DIY Christmas Countdown - 12 Days of Eco Ideas Part 1

Shows Santa

As we attested in our rebuttal of Christmas being the most unsustainable time of year, we believe that with some simple reductions in consumption, we can do better and wipe that slanderous slogan from existence. So get ready to ditch the non-biodegradable tinsel and plastic baubles for decorations you’ve made yourself this Christmas, with a little help from ReLove 💚

Although the 12 Days of Christmas don’t actually begin until Christmas Day (what?!) we are celebrating the lead up to it with twelve days of eco ideas; a festive saviour to get you in the Christmas spirit and put this mostly abysmal year behind us (it hasn’t been without its opportunities)Each day between December 14th and Christmas Day we will be releasing a new do-it-yourself (or buy small) decoration, game or otherwise eco idea to inspire you this festive season! Check back every morning for a fresh idea in our Instagram story and find the full how-to guides below and in Part 2.

*p.s. If you are catching up having missed the live reveals, read from the bottom to enjoy the countdown effect ⏳*

On the 7th day of Christmas...
Make your own Santa handprint ornament 🎅🖐

A Santa handprint ornament shown at three stages. After initial moulding, once Santa's face is painted and once designed.

A craft handprint ornament is great fun to make. You’ll enjoy it just as much as your kids, guaranteed. With this one, you’re essentially creating your own homemade play-dough (remember that stuff?!) before shaping it into your kids handprint and adding a little colour. Something reminiscent to bring out every Christmas for your kids to display and remember how small their hands were! Just don’t eat it...

Here’s what you’ll need for the salt dough:

♥ 4 cups of flour

♥ 1 cup of salt

♥ 1.5 cups of warm water

Firstly, mix together the flour and salt in a bowl before adding the warm water. Once you have a good consistency (after 5-10 mins), roll it to a thickness of around ½ an inch. Now the real fun begins - press yours, or your kids, hands into the dough to make a handprint with fingers reasonably distanced. Carefully cut it out with a knife (adults only) and place on your baking tray. Oh, and don’t forget to poke a small hole through where your twine will go later on. Heat for around 2 hours in the oven at 120◦C and let it dry till later on that night or the following morning. For a full how-to cook guide, including tips if you come across problems, click here for the original recipe, you’ll find it around half way down the page.

Here's what you'll need for Santa:

♥ White paint for Santa’s beard

♥ Your choice of paint for Santa’s face

♥ Red paint for Santa’s hat

♥ Large white pom-pom

♥ Small googly eyes

♥ Small red pom-pom

♥ Festive twine

♥ Tools: clear gloss sealer, paintbrushes, knife

Now Santa’s ready to be painted, start with his face and allow it to dry. Next, add the red paint around the top and thumb area to form his hat and the white of his beard at the finger area. Add clear gloss sealer before the next stage to make it durable and stop it cracking after a few uses. Finally, with glue, add your cotton for Santa’s hat trim and moustache, googly eyes, red pom pom nose and white pom-pom to the end of his hat. And you're done! Feed a little twine through the hole you created earlier and hang it on your tree for years to come 🎅

On the 8th day of Christmas...
Add a little embroidery to your 
tree 🎄

We’re sharing the reusable love with some of our fellow eco warriors, so if you don’t have the time (and the embroidery skills) to give them a go yourself, check out some of these gorgeous options on Etsy, which come with the added bonus of supporting small eco businesses like us. Check out ChloeReanne for some great embroidery designs, many of which can be used all year round! More interested in rustic ornaments? Create your own wooden slice ornaments, all you need to do is pickup some wood slices from your local craft store and break out the pens and paint. For something a little more professional, check out TitchyStichDesign or BohemianForestDesign on Etsy.

On the left, Chloe Reanne Embroidery "Donut Worry" design. On the right wooden/embroidery Christmas tree mashup from TitchyStichDesign

On the 9th day of Christmas...
Make your tree 🎄 smell beautiful with a 
fresh ornament

Cinnamon stick Christmas ornaments with pine garlands.

Use cinnamon sticks to add a subtle spicy scent and a unique handmade ornament to your tree, to the envy and awe of your visitors.

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ 3” cinnamon sticks

♥ Pine garlands - you could even reuse what’s fallen from your tree!

♥ Festive twine

♥ Some decorative buttons or sequins if you so wish

♥ Tools: glue, scissors

This one’s pretty easy once you have all the bits and bobs above and great fun to do! To start, glue 3 pieces of pine to each of your cinnamon sticks. Place a short piece of pine at the top, a slightly larger piece in the middle and slightly larger piece again at the bottom. Knot your festive twine around before placing the glue on the sticks. Lastly, get to decorating with some old buttons, sequins and more! Find more information where we first discovered the idea for it here.

On the 10th day of Christmas...
Hand make your 
crackers 🥳

Christmas crackers are a staple of the festive season - but also one of the most unsustainable aspects of it. As ever, here’s how we can help you stop that from happening.

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ Some A4 patterned paper or old wallpaper

♥ Cardboard toilet or kitchen roll inner tubes

♥ Festive twine (to replace ribbons)

♥ Non-plastic toys, games, jokes and tissue hats

♥ Tools: biodegradable tape, paint or pens, scissors

If you’re not using wallpaper, begin by designing your paper to wrap around each cardboard roll. It sounds as if you should do it last but trust us, it’s better to start there, let it dry then wrap it. Position your tube in the centre of the paper lengthwise then, to create your cracker ends, softly score the paper at the end of each tube. Wrap it around each tube, overlapping the edges and glue it in place. Carefully twist the first side of your cracker, securing it with your festive twine. Add your fillings in the other side before securing it, and you’re done. Your guests will love the handmade effort 😍 Here’s the full how-to if you need more info. You can also make them with fabric.

On the 11th day of Christmas...
Make a personalised family ‘Guess Who?’ 🤷‍♀️

Personalised Guess Who? board made using MDF and coloured wooden boards.

Why not keep your creative hands at work and make your own, personalised Guess Who, courtesy of almostmakesperfect.com! Admittedly, this one will take a little work, but what a fun way to create something unique this festive season.

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ Card to print or draw faces of your family and friends on

♥ Plywood for the base

♥ Wooden rectangles to attach the faces

♥ Small dollhouse hinges and screws

♥ A few dowels to hold your card

♥ Optional: a woven carry bag, photoshop skills and some paint

♥ Tools: sandpaper, screwdriver, biodegradable tape, ruler, paintbrushes

Decide who you want to add to your board and get your editing (or drawing) skills to work. Twice print or draw each person on some pieces of card. Attach each face to each piece of wood (impermanently) with some biodegradable sticky tape. Make some quick pilot holes where the hinges will go and screw them in. Make sure to use a ruler so it all lines up well. Last, cut a dowel into four identical pieces, leaving a small gap between for your chosen card to fit in. And you’re done! You can find the full how-to here. If you're looking for a more simple alternative, ditch the wood and just use card. To hold each face up, add a little card to the back to make it freestanding.

On the 12th day of Christmas...
Make your tinsel plastic-free 😍

An all natural, flower based tinsel alternative. Shows flowers in tub, on twine and finally wrapped around a tree.

First up because time is of the essence! If you're keeping to the classic Christmas tradition, today is the day your tree will be going up. If your tree is up early we don't judge - the way this year has been we wouldn't be surprised if the search for festive cheer began in November...but I digress. Ah, tinsel. A great way to add sparkle to your tree. Yet terrible for the environment: plastic-based, completely non-recyclable and landfill bound...We've found a handful of alternatives so you can ditch it forever! From pine cone garlands to colourful bunting replacements, there are loads of more eco and natural ideas out there. Our personal favourite, and easy DIY alternative if you can find the bits - an all natural flower tinsel. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ A bouquet of paper daises or other flowers that dry out well (e.g. rose buds)

♥ Festive twine

♥ Tools: a needle & scissors

Start by cutting the stems from your flowers. Cut a metre or two of twine depending on how many flowers you have (lay them atop to approximate). Next, thread your needle and push it through the front of the paper daisy to the back. FYI - going front to back stops your twine from damaging any petals. Pull the needle through the flower and push it to the end of your twine. Repeat this with the other flowers on your twine, leaving whatever gap you feel is necessary. To keep them in place, tie a knot after each flower. Once they're all together, tie the end and as easy as that - your all natural flower tinsel is ready to be wrapped around your tree or across your fireplace!

Don’t fancy giving one of these a go yourself? Check out MakeItWild’s eco-alternative - it uses recycled paper, colouring and some copper wiring to make for a plastic-free, hand-wound purchase, perfect for your tree!

Stay tuned for tomorrows eco idea on our Christmas Countdown!

We have loved curating these ideas into an eco countdown for you guys and gals. If you’re just now discovering it after Christmas or haven't had the chance to try them, make sure to save the bookmark for next year! Thank you to all of the creative craft websites, awesome Etsy sellers and everywhere we’ve referenced for ideas for our Christmas Countdown - you are all helping to make the world more eco. Have a wonderful Christmas 🎅

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