Use What You Have: Upcycle Household Items Into Holiday Decor

Prepping for holiday guests? Shop your home and turn old stuff into creative new Christmas decorations.
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May 29, 2015
By: Liz Gray

Puzzle Pieces = Napkin Ring Bling

We all have that maddening puzzle that's missing five or six key pieces. Reinvent those extras as snowflake napkin holders. Spray paint the pieces white, then glue several pieces together and attach to basic rings with hot glue. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Tin Cans = Cake Stand Risers

You don't have to splurge on an expensive cake stands in order to create an eye-catching display. This 3-tiered stand is made by stacking cake drums (available at baking supply stores) of different diameters onto stationary-wrapped food cans. Secure each tier with hot glue, then top the rounds with fake snow. Design by Cristina Riches, Bird's Party

Ceiling Medallion = Textured Wreath

These pretty accents aren't just for remodeling projects; you can also use them as unexpected holiday decor. Leave a medallion white for a modern look, or spray paint in your favorite glossy hue. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Old Door = Dining Table

Holiday parties can have hefty guest lists, but that doesn't mean you have to splurge for a new or rented dining table. Top your smaller version with an old door or a piece of plywood cut up to six inches larger than all sides of your table, then cover with a tablecloth. Voila, seating for a crowd! Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

A Few Paint Chips = Favor Tags

Paint chips can pile up after a home improvement project. This year, put them to good use as colorful tags for party favors. Cut chips into a tree silhouette, then add each recipient's name. These would work equally well as playful place cards. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Lots of Paint Chips = Bloom-Covered Wreath

Once you've built up a larger collection of paint chips, transform them into a wreath full of brilliant blooms. To create the flowers: Cut the end of the chip at a 45-degree angle with scissors, then twist around until a conical form takes shape. To keep it from unraveling, add a generous bead of hot glue to the back where the two edges of the paint chip meet. Make enough flowers in assorted colors to fill a foam wreath, then attach them using hot glue. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Pennant Banners = Sport-Savvy Tree Skirt

Relive your high school glory days or vacation memories all holiday season with this unique tree skirt made from vintage pennant banners. It will be an instant conversation piece when guests arrive. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Vintage Aprons = Homespun Tree Skirt

For the more domestic-minded decorator, retro aprons can also stand in for a traditional tree skirt. Photo courtesy of Matthew Mead

Metal Stencils = Painted Ornaments

Turn metal or cardboard stencils from past craft projects into modern, graphic Christmas ornaments. Use them to deck out your tree, or create ornaments with each guest's initial for custom party favors. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Drop Cloth + Drapery Hardware = Faux Mantel

If your living room lacks a fiery focal point, create your own whimsical version using a drop cloth, drapery hardware and chalkboard paint. Bonus: It can double as a canvas for pint-sized houseguests. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Cookie Cutters = Christmas Ornaments

Cookie cutters aren't just for slicing up dough. With a few stationary scraps and some ribbon or twine, turn extra metal cookie cutters into colorful Christmas ornaments. Design by Layla Palmer

Sheet Music = Whimsical Christmas Trees

Turn vintage sheet music into a keepsake you can enjoy year after year: a miniature Christmas tree. Group three of the trees together to make a statement in the dining room or entryway. Design by Marian Parsons

Sheet Music = Pitch-Perfect Placemats

If you’d rather leave favorite tunes in one piece, use connected sheets of music as a creative and sophisticated placemat. Here, it adds an unexpected whimsy to this classic silver-and-white table. Design by Marian Parsons

Mason Jars = Outdoor Luminaries

Transform extra mason jars into a bright accent to greet holiday guests. Fill jars with Epsom salt to emulate freshly-fallen snow, then add small votive candles and place along your front walkway. Design by Melissa Michaels

Mason Jars = Waterless Snow Globes

You can decorate with mason jars inside the house, too, like Michelle of Sweet Something Design did here. She created waterless snow globes by hot-gluing small evergreen trees to the jars' lids, then pouring fake snow in the jar and screwing on the lids. Group several together for a wintry scene you can leave up all winter long.

Extra Wrapping Paper = Homemade Wine Charms

Once the gifts are tucked under the tree, repurpose leftover wrapping paper and ribbons to make season-perfect wine charms. Designer Rima Nasser added each guest’s initial to help partygoers remember which glass to sip from. Extra ornaments? Tie them on for another festive touch.

Leftover Cardstock = Graphic Christmas Ornaments

Once you've made holiday cards, recycle the leftover cardstock into 3-D paper ornaments. All you need is patterned paper, a circle punch and some double-sided tape. Design by Layla Palmer

Deck of Cards = Unexpected Holiday Wreath

Poker fans will get a kick out of repurposing a deck of cards as a cheery holiday wreath. Create multiple layers of cards with thick mounting tape; this gives the wreath more dimension. For added whimsy, attach red and green poker chips in one corner to resemble a sprig of holly. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Starlight Mints = Sweet Serving Tray

A fresh way to use holiday mints? Melt them into a sweet serving tray. To create, lay peppermints side by side on a cookie sheet, then stick into a warm oven until the mints have melted. Remove from the pan and allow to fully cool. The shiny, slick surface is perfect for holding holiday cocktails. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Scrabble Tiles = Personalized Place Cards

Bring the trend of repurposing wooden game tiles to the dinner table this Christmas with these personalized place markers. Using hot glue, attach tiles to spell each guest's name onto twine or ribbon. These can double as ornaments or favor tags. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Last Year's Cards = This Year's Cocktail Markers

Get your glassware into the holiday spirit with cocktail charms made from last season’s greetings. Find an area with lots of color or an attractive design element, then cut a small hole in the middle for the glasses' stem and a slit so guests can easily slide the markers on and off. Vary the colors and patterns so each partygoer can easily identify his or her glass. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Wooden Clothespins = Clean Snowflake Ornaments

Steal a few clothespins from the laundry room to decorate the tree this year. Glued back to back, clothespin halves transform into crisp white snowflakes. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Covered Cake Plate = Holiday Terrarium

Transform an extra cake stand into a Christmastime "terrarium" with candles, ribbons, ornaments and boughs of greenery. Vary the heights and textures inside to create a visually pleasing display, then tuck it all under the glass dome. Have an extra cheese dome? Create the same effect on an entry table. Design by Layla Palmer

Cake Plate + Ornaments = One-Minute Centerpiece

Stack extra ornaments atop a cake plate to add a quick hit of holiday cheer to any room in your house. Hold ornaments together with double-sided tape. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Wool Blanket = Warm Table Runner

A vintage wool blanket is an unexpected but cozy base for this rustic table setting. By folding the blanket instead of cutting or sewing it, it can warm your table for the holidays, then go back to warming your feet for years to come. Design by Marian Parsons

Glassware Collection = Temporary Tree

Collections can be reimagined for the season as part of your Christmas decor. Here, Matthew Mead used a collection of turquoise glassware positioned on a bookshelf to resemble to outline of a Christmas tree — it's even dotted with silvery orbs like the real deal. Photo courtesy of Matthew Mead

Drawer Pulls = Heavy-Duty Napkin Holders

Scrolled drawer pulls add unexpected style to simple white napkins. To create a more modern look, spray paint the pulls in a neon hue. Photo courtesy of Matthew Mead

Glass Jars = Colorful Candle Holders

Small glass jars become colorful votive holders with a quick coat of spray paint. Have an assortment of sizes? Spray them in one hue and arrange the down the middle of the table for a mood-setting centerpiece. Design by Camille Styles

Old Wine Bottles = Outdoor Candelabra

Wine bottles seem too sturdy to throw out, but they can pile up fast. Put them to good use this season by turning them into a dramatic outdoor candelabra. To make, spray paint the wine bottles with matte black paint, then fit each bottle with a tall taper candle. The drips will naturally run down the sides as they burn bright all evening. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Everyday Books = Holiday Accents

Need extra holiday color? Raid the bookshelves. Everyday titles can become bright accents when covered with festive fabrics that coordinate with the rest of your decor. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

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