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Waste Free Christmas Decorations – Part One : Cardboard

Like many other families across the country, we are trying to have a more eco-friendly Christmas this year. We’re trying to cut out all the waste that surrounds Christmas. So we’ve had a good think about what we need to enjoy Christmas and what we don’t.
One of the things that our kids didn’t want to miss was the decorations and crafts in the build up to Christmas. For them it’s a big part of the magic. It brightens up gloomy winter days and they enjoy it more than Christmas day itself.
So we’ve put our heads together to come up with some ideas for decorations and crafts that we can make, without creating a whole load of waste.
In this blog post we’re looking at ways that we can get a bit more use out of cardboard before we send it for recycling.

1.The Toilet Roll Gift Box

We’ve seen lots of pictures of these great little boxes and with five kids we have no shortage of cardboard toilet rolls! You could hang these on your tree or number them to make an alternative advent calendar.
They’re really easy to make. Just flatten out your cardboard roll a little bit and then score a semi circle at both ends and on both sides. We used a pen pot as a guide.

Then fold along your score lines and push the tube into a pillow shape.
Then you can get creative. To add a bit of festive colour we’ve cut some fabric scraps and wrapped it around the mid-section of the box (you could use colourful waste paper for this). Then we’ve tied them with twine, but you could use wool scraps or bits of ribbon.
Couldn’t be simpler, and you can fill them with some little treats.
2.Eco-Friendly Christmas Angels

These are really nice for kids to make. Once you’ve made a template, you can cut out as many as you want. Then let them enjoy giving each one a different outfit and face, or get creative yourself. You can pop a big one on top of the tree, put strings on to hang them or string them all together to make a very charming garland.
You’ll need some thin card for this, cereal boxes are ideal. First draw around a bowl or plate and then draw a shape in the circle that looks a bit like this.

Cut it out and bend it round to make a cone shape. We fastened ours with a small piece of paper tape.

Cut some wings from foil that was destined for the recycling bin as we’ve done, or use some more card.
Finally, use up scraps to decorate. This is a natural themed angel, but colourful ones look great too.

3. Christmas Crackers Without the Waste

Christmas crackers are another brilliant way to use up toilet rolls. Plus, when you make your own, you don’t end up with lots of tiny gifts that you don’t need or want.
Both myself and Matt loved the TV sitcom The Good Life when we were growing up, especially the Christmas episode where they have a very waste free Christmas. So we’re more than happy to go without the snaps and just shout out bang! When we pull our crackers.
Our son has asked to be put in charge of jokes to go inside and we’re going to put a handmade gift in each one.

It’s another super easy make. Cut your toilet roll in half, then place it on a piece of scrap paper. Put your gift, joke/fun fact and a homemade paper crown into the cardboard roll making sure to push the two halves together. Then roll it in the paper.

Squeeze in the ends and tie with scraps of wool or string. We’ve found that it helps to make some small cuts in the paper with a craft knife, about where the tube is cut in half. It makes for easier pulling. Then decorate them however you like or personalise them for each person.

Once you get started, there’s no end to the Christmassy things that you can make. And it makes the whole event more personal and special.
In the words of Dr Suess’ Grinch,

‘ “Maybe Christmas” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store”
“Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.’