I am not an artist by nature. My 5-year-old daughter can draw far more intricate pictures than I ever could. But I do enjoy dabbling in a little bit of craft work here and there - the easier, the better. And if it means using what I already have at home so that I don't have to spend more (or a lot of) money, and it minimizes the stuff I have already have, well then, that makes the idea of upcycling all the more worth while. Wikipedia defines "upcycling" as the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. I define it as using whatever you already have (that would otherwise wind up in a landfill waiting years to decompose) to create unique pieces of work that will continue to serve the purpose of decor, fashion, gardening, living, and anything else that will expand the life of the product. This holiday season, as my family tries to make the most out of cooking, celebrating, decorating, and gift giving - without breaking the bank - we have decided to make upcycled handmade gifts that we hope will continue to help us live frugally and keep us on track to minimizing our home and life.
So, what do we have in mind to make that may give you ideas for your own gift-giving? Who doesn't have a t-shirt in their closet that either no longer fits, has minor stains, was given to you for free from an informational booth at a mall or an event, or just doesn't suit your style anymore or didn't in the first place? Turn that shirt into a new scarf perfect for this wintery season or make great looking necklaces or bracelets - no sewing and can be done in minutes! Do you have old sheets, curtains, formal wear, maternity tops or dresses, or old children's clothes that you can't seem to part with? Keep a little bit of these items around while preserving the memories that you can later pass down by making fabric flowers. Big or small, these new embellishments can be used to accessorize your hair, clothes, bags, or shoes, or to decorate frames, wreathes, bulletin boards, notebooks, etc. The list is endless! Look around your home for broken crayons and make new ones for stocking stuffers. Another upcycling project you can try is using old frames you may already have but can't seem to pair with the perfect photo. Don't have any lone frames? You can find great ones at garage or estate sales for mere change. Paint the frame with new color. In place of a photo, use scrapbook paper, your favorite magazine ad page, comics from the newspaper, or gift wrapping paper, and you've got yourself a new dry-erase board for your kitchen that can be placed on any wall, table, or shelf in the house. Dress it up with those upcycled fabric flowers or word art, include a pack of dry-erase markers, and you have the perfect holiday gift.
Looking to get rid of unwanted things in your home to create a clean slate in 2012? What better way to live minimally and frugally than to reuse them for new and refreshing items for yourself or for others? You don't need to be born an artist, but your work will make it seem like you were. Happy crafting from The Green House!
The Green House Disclosure: I wrote this post for The Little Seed blog.