Holiday Remix: Repurposing Candy Canes, Christmas Trees, Poinsettias, Cards and More

If you haven’t decorated the house, sent out cards or wrapped presents yet – STOP, DON’T DO IT YET! Read this article first. I originally published this article last January, but realized how I should have put it out before Christmas. Even in mid Dec, it’s behind schedule.  Ya see, the best way to to reduce some of the waste of this holiday season is to limit what we purchase in the first place. So my best advice for a frugal and planet-friendly holiday is to plan better. Just remember this: Wise women repurpose! (Even if they can’t say that five times in a row real fast.) Now on to the read…

Yur average thrifty person will have a few large, plastic storage bins to save ornaments, lights and even mildly used packagin’ for next year. That’s great and everyone should do it! But there are still just a whole bunch of things that don’t go into the bins that make me wonder as I wander to the garbage can, “Isn’t there somethin’ better to do with this than toss it?” You know what I’m talking about – Christmas cards, candy canes, broken (but not to smithereens) ornaments, obviously used packagin’ and even our quickly deterioratin’ tree.

Great amalgamator that I am, below you’ll find some of the sweetest and neatest ideas on the Web for recyclin’ and repurposin’ what won’t keep until next year.

What to do with Christmas cards is gettin’ to be less and less of a problem, with people optin’ for e-cards or no cards at all! But for those whose families and friends cherish the tradition, you get a double whammy on the way to the trash can with Christmas cards, knowin’ that not only could they be repurposed, but they also have sentimental value. But who needs (or wants!) a set of Christmas card collage placemats? Some not-so-corny uses of these cards are creatin’ an advent calendar for the next year, Christmas crackers (a great, and fun tradition you need to start!), and money-savin’ gift tags for next year. If you’re a scrapbooker, why buy Christmas scrapbookin’ supplies? And if you have a recipe card collection, use the blank sides of Christmas cards to note some of yur favorite holiday recipes. Card fronts also make great post cards or custom invitations for holiday functions next year.

If you have cats, you probably have some broken ornaments. And Christmas lights aren’t built to last forever either. Turn these tiny tragedies into triumphs, creatin’ custom gifts. I refer you back to the Rachel Ray video featuring PBS’s “B Organic” Host Michele Beschen, who makes jewelry from broken ornaments, as well as three other neat ideas found here.

Chocolate-covered cherries around my house never get the chance to grow old, but candy canes, on the other hand, could fossilize before I take the wrappers off. I see that candy companies have responded to America’s waning peppermint appetite by fancyin’ up the candy cane – Hershey’s makes a mint chocolate candy cane, and I saw gingerbread-flavored candy canes too – but I’m thinkin’ it’s just too much hard candy in one package because even these new tastes aren’t temptin’ me. The crazy thing is I buy some anyway! When they inevitably break, I feel okay about tossin’ em, but ya know, that’s not OK. Some poor little sugar cane had to give its life to make that and I should value that sacrifice, which is why I’m pleased to steer ya to 33 Uses for Leftover Candy Canes.

“A life is a terrible thing to waste.” Of all the post-Christmas perditions, it’s poinsettia homicide that bothers me most. If I lived in Florida, California or along the Mexican-American border, where it doesn’t freeze, I could just find a sunny spot outside to stick it in the ground and it might stand a chance. I know they can be grown as houseplants, but if you’re like me, and tryin’ to keep a poinsettia is really just prolongin’ its inevitable death, consider alternatives. Do you have a friend or relative who is successful at raisin’ ‘em (and actually enjoys it)? Give it away, then. If you know you’re gonna kill it sooner or later, try preservin’ the flowers before they get yucky. Put ‘em between two sheets of wax paper, pressed down between some heavy books for a couple o’ weeks. Then you might be able to craft January birthday cards or use the deep red for decoupage of Valentine’s crafts.

Oh, Christmas Tree! There are lots of environmentally sound ways to dispose of a Christmas tree, from mulchin’ to improvin’ fish habitats to dune restoration, and the best one for you is gonna depend on where you live. Contact yur local recycling center to see what they suggest. If they are big losers and have nothin’ to suggest, contact yur city, county, or state parks department. Or, if yur feelin’ crafty and want to turn that tree into next year’s Christmas presents, check out this Rachel Ray video on makin’ jewelry, coasters, hair sticks and more out of a tree trunk. Also on this video is a great idea for even the most brutally used wrappin’ paper – shreddin’ it for gift packagin’ all year long. But I’m bettin’ you may have already taken out the trash… Well, next year!

Oh, I know, it’s easier to get a 35-gallon glad bag and toss it all. But as wise women – resourceful and good stewards – we’re called to make somethin’ out of what other people call garbage.

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