Forget spending a ton of money on fancy wrapping paper, ribbons and boxes. "It's the silliest thing in the world; you know someone's just going to tear it up and throw it away," says green lifestyle expert and crafter Danny Seo. But don't get him wrong, Seo believes in gorgeous presentation. "I just think there are so many things that you can use that you already have to wrap presents and make them look really pretty." In his new book "Upcycling Celebrations," the "Today" show contributor creates over 100 ingenious holiday-themed projects out of stuff that's lying around (think: cheery garlands from packing peanuts). We got him to teach us a few projects from his book -- start raiding your cabinets now.
Why are homemade decorations more special?
When someone asks, "Oh, where did you get these trimmers?" the last thing you want to say is, "Pottery Barn." You want to have a story, like, "Oh, when I was 8-years-old I made these with my mother, we've had them generation to generation." So what I was trying to do with this book was to take the idea of making things by hand and make it easy for people who truly don't have a lot of skill.
What's a good starter project?
During the holidays everybody gives out gift cards; it's an easy gift but it's hard to wrap. What I do is I save Altoids tins, and cover it in a really pretty paper. (see below left for directions). Once it's done, throw some peppermint candies inside, place the gift card on top, tie it with a ribbon and you're done.
How are you planning to decorate your home for the holidays?
I'm making a big newspaper wreath this year. You cut six or seven squares of newspaper out and then you put the squares onto a wreath frame -- which are like two dollars at a craft store. Then you zip-tie that bunch of newspaper onto the frame and take your hands and scrunch it; they become these newspaper rosettes. Once you do the whole thing you can create a giant wreath using newspapers you already have, and the only tools you need are a wreath frame, zip ties and scissors.
Altoids Tin Gift Card Tins:
Forget envelopes: Save some trees and use your empty Altoids tins when giving gift cards to your loved ones.
HOW TO: You don’t have to cover the outside of the tin with decorative paper, but if you don’t, you are simply reusing an Altoids tin and not upcycling it. If aesthetics matter to you, it’s easy to do: Spread craft glue on the top of the Altoids tin and lay it flat on a piece of pretty paper. Press it firmly in place and then use an X-Acto knife to trim off the excess along the edges for a clean finish. Do the same along the edges of the tin. Paint a thin layer of glue around the edges and sprinkle with glitter, place a gift card inside and tie it all up with a ribbon.
Happy Holidays banner:
Make your own quirky holiday banner to greet your guests and spruce up a blank space.
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HOW TO: Cut thick office-supply paper (think cardstock) into circles. With a hot-glue gun, attach dried-out pens, markers and broken pencils to the front of each circle to spell out a letter. Repeat until your phrase is completed. Use a hole punch to punch two holes at the top of each circle, and run yarn or string through it to make the garland.
Put your used light bulbs to use and make these adorable hot-air-balloon ornaments.
HOW TO: Cut tissue paper into small strips that will cover the outside of the bulb, from the base of the socket to the top of the bulb. Cover the whole bulb in Mod Podge glue and attach the tissue paper on top. Wait for it to dry slightly (about 10 minutes; do other bulbs as you wait) and then apply a thin layer of more Mod Podge on top to seal it in. To get the cool striped appearance, use strips of identical tissue paper and attach them one at a time, alternating colors. Allow to dry completely. Tie two pieces of string around the socket tightly, and bring them up along the sides of the bulb and knot at top. Leave excess so you have enough string to loop around the tree to hang it. Twist a champagne metal cage around the bottom to make the “basket” for the balloon.