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Upcycling updates ornaments

Anybody who still needs to do some holiday decorating should think twice before throwing out that toilet paper roll.

Anybody who still needs to do some holiday decorating should think twice before throwing out that toilet paper roll.

Everyday items often found in the recycling bin can be "upcycled," or repurposed, to make great decorations or even gifts, says crafter Denise Corcoran. It's saved her hundreds of dollars over the years, she says.

"Repurposing takes something boring and adds a personal touch," she says. "And it's cheap."

Wine corks, cardboard egg cartons and toilet paper rolls are particularly useful, she explains. A toilet paper roll can make a handy gift box, notes Corcoran.

"Put your small gift inside, fold down both sides of the roll, wrap or paint it, and it's done," she says. "If you want to get fancy, you can cut designs out of old Christmas cards and use that to decorate the box."

To make a snowflake ornament, cut a toilet paper roll into five pieces that are roughly the same height and glue them into a star shape. "You can also add an old button or junk jewelry as a nice accent piece for the middle," she says.

Christmas cookie cutters make great stencils. "They're perfect for using as your pattern." Trace the shape onto a cereal box (a great canvas because it's stiff) and paint or decorate accordingly.

Corcoran will buy second-hand generic ball ornaments, paint them, add glitter and glue buttons or jewels as finishing touches. "It updates them and makes them a bit more modern," she says.

A little creativity can turn cardboard egg cartons into tree decorations, explains Corcoran. Cut an egg carton into four individual cup holders, stack them upside down into a tree shape, string a ribbon through them, and add green glitter. For extra sparkle, repurpose some old jewelry or a bell at the top of the tree, she says. "It's super-easy and it's a project somebody might want to do with their kids because it's not too messy or labourintensive."

Decorating a clothes peg with scrap paper, adding a button as an accent, and gluing it to a magnet can make a handy stocking stuffer. "You can use this to hang things on your fridge," says Corcoran. Pushing a wine cork into a candlestick holder and securing a paper clip to the cork will create a cute picture holder that could also be a gift, she says.

Upcycling doesn't cost a lot or take a lot of time, and it doesn't take much talent to make something pretty fabulous, explains Corcoran. "Sometimes it's just really nice to make something and give it to someone instead of going to the store and buying it," she says. "That little thought can go a long way."

Corcoran runs upcycling seminars. The next one is expected to be in February. For info visit

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