Holiday Waste-Wise Gift Ideas

Holiday Waste-Wise Gift Ideas

Don’t “Throw It All Away” This Holiday Season

The holiday season brings an influx of paper to homes in the form of holiday advertising and shopping catalogues, not to mention envelopes and wrapping paper. Holiday entertaining can also generate lots of aluminum cans. Remind parents and fellow teachers to give a gift to the planet and your school by bringing those recyclables to your schools paper and aluminum can bins.

Challenge students to be in charge of the holiday recycling by making sure as gifts are unwrapped, bows and ribbons are saved for reuse and wrapping paper goes into a bag to take to school. Have a contest to see who brings in the most cans or bags of paper.

Gifts = Thought + Kindness — Not Necessarily Stuff From Stores!

gift certificate
Instead of purchasing a trinket or pencil for your students, give a gift that they will appreciate and that also serves as a model that the most thoughtful gifts don’t have to come from a store — a gift certificate redeemable for a free homework pass, extra library or computer time. Click below for a ready-to-print gift certificate template.

Gift certificates can also make great parent gifts for older students. Have the student fill in what the certificate is redeemable for- a clean room, a hand-washed car, a whine free trip to the symphony etc.

Reduce and Reuse Parent Gift Ideas

Gifts that illustrate the 3R’s teach a waste reduction lesson in addition to delighting parents with a homemade treasure. Ideas include:

  • Glue construction paper or tissue to a jelly jar for a vase. Fill with flowers made from egg cartons.
  • Make a holiday candleholder from a bleach bottle.
  • Make placemats from holiday paper and cards.
  • Make Recycled Paper Ornaments.

Holiday Crafts/Gift Ideas

egg carton

Egg Cup Bouquets

What You Need

  • Several polystyrene foam egg cartons in pastel colors
  • Sharp scissors
  • Sharp pencil
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ribbon or vase

What You Do

  1. Cut egg cartons into single egg cups
  2. Scallop, fringe, point edges to make flower shapes out of the cups
  3. Using the pencil, poke a small hole in the center of each egg cup
  4. Insert a pipe cleaner in the hole
  5. Tie stems with ribbon or place in vase

Bleach Bottle Candleholder

What You Need

  • One empty bleach bottle (triple-rinse and drain thoroughly)
  • Pocket or paring knife
  • Pair of sharp scissors
  • Decorative pieces of scrap- felt, fabric, rick-rack, lace
  • Glue
  • Candle with diameter similar to bottle spout (if too large, use knife to carve away wax until it fits)
  • Aluminum foil

What You Do

  1. Using the knife, make a slit in the side of the bleach bottle, about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom
  2. Insert one scissor point in the slit and carefully cut the bottle into two pieces
  3. Decorate by gluing scrap pieces
  4. Wrap base of candle with foil, wrinkling and crushing until you have a safe, snug fit

Holiday Placemats and Coasters

What You Need

  • Used holiday cards and wrapping paper
  • Ribbon and glitter
  • Scissors
  • Self-stick clear shelf paper

What You Do

  1. Cut out shelf paper in desired number of 4” x 4” squares (coasters) and 10” x 14” rectangles (placemats). You’ll need 2 pieces of shelf paper for each item
  2. Cut out the pictures from cards
  3. Trim wrapping paper into interesting shapes
  4. Peel off the backing of the shelf paper and place on the table sticky-side up
  5. Arrange cards and paper face down on the shelf paper leaving a ¼ inch border for a good seal
  6. Add ribbon, glitter for decoration
  7. Peel the backing of the second piece of shelf paper
  8. Press together the sticky sides
  9. Trim edges

Recycled Paper Ornaments

What You Need

  • Blender
  • Screen on a frame
  • Water
  • Plastic cookie cutters with backs
  • Microwave oven
  • Acrylic paint, glitter, markers

What You Do

  1. Make recycled paper pulp by mixing 3 parts water to 1 part torn shredded paper.
  2. Pour water/paper mixture through a screen (simple vinyl window screen works great) leaving pulp on the screen.
  3. Use a plastic cookie cutter (no metal in microwave) with a back. Squeeze water out of the pulp, but don’t let the pulp get too dry or it is not manageable. Push the pulp into the cutter, filling the entire cutter and working the pulp into all the grooves and turns.
  4. Press the full cutter paper side down on a towel to get out as much water as possible
  5. Microwave for 1.5 minutes. 4-6 small cutters can be placed in the microwave at one time.
  6. Cutters will be Hot! Gently tap cutter paper side down until the damp ornament pops out.
  7. Dry ornament overnight – 2 days. Place something on top to keep from curling.
  8. When dry, color with magic marker, glitter glue or spray with acrylic paint. Do not use water-based paint!
  9. Hang with thread or use hot-glue to attach a pin on the back to wear the ornament on clothes.