It’s winter. The gifts have all been unwrapped and put away, along with all the trappings of the holidays.
Or have they?
If you are still surrounded by bits of “this is worth saving” wrapping paper, cards that you just can’t part with or well-intentioned gifts of clothing that won’t fit into your closet, take heart. ‘Tis the season for repurposing!
These dark winter months are a perfect time to get creative while also being kind to the environment. Reimagining and repurposing what is right in front of you can be fun and productive; and you might even discover a few hidden talents along the way.
Let’s start with that pile of new clothing that you either received as gifts or purchased on sale after the holidays. Using the “one item in, one item out” rule, you can easily make room in drawers and closets by donating or tossing things you don’t wear. But why not take things a step more creatively? Old T-shirts, sweatshirts or even fleece throws can be cut into strips and braided to make colorful rugged tug toys for the family dog or to tuck away for gift-giving. If you are really ambitious, step things up a notch and make a braided accent rug. Tutorials online abound!
That stack of magazines or catalogs can, with a little glue and a lot of patience, become a wall clock, as featured in a previous MethuenLife column about artist Charlotte Kenher’s creations.
And speaking of clocks, why not purge the bookshelves, especially in the kids’ rooms, by adding craft-store clockworks to favorite titles and hanging on the wall or saving for future gifts?
Art can be therapeutic. Spend a snowy day cutting up old Christmas cards. Make simple gift tags. Using blank cards, create new ones for next year. Frame a few, especially any hand-crafted ones, for sweet little wall art. Look around at holiday decorations that might be frame-worthy, as well, such as an heirloom cloth napkin or even a small ornament.
Rethinking what we already have is a great way to continue to enjoy cherished items in a new way. Paper can be cut into strips and woven to create any number of objects, from picture frames and mirror borders to coin purses, tote bags, bowls and baskets. Most wrapping paper is sturdy enough to hold up for craft projects with only the application of a little glue. Again, there are endless tutorials online for both beginners and more advanced artists/crafters.
HaverhillLife readers may recall a recent column on local artist Jenny Arndt and her tissue paper art. Using torn bits of recycled tissue paper from gifts, she “paints” intricate works of art by applying them to a canvas with glue. Put your own spin on this technique by using anything from cut-up corrugated boxes to bits of ribbon, and you will never look at that pile of rumpled gift-wrap and discarded packaging in the same way.
Got catnip? Cut up an old fleece throw and make simple but well-received “knot” toys by rolling up a small amount of ’nip into a rectangle of material and knotting at each end. Loose catnip can be found at any pet supply store, and your furry friends will thank you.
Now that your creative juices have begun to flow, grab a giant tote bin and label it “2024 Holidays.” With any luck, by the end of the year it will be full of unique handcrafted gifts, wall decor and cards to share with friends and family. They will be impressed, the environment will be grateful and, after the holidays, you can look forward to your new post-holiday-stress-relieving-recycling-repurposing-gift-making tradition!
Patricia Bruno is a Methuen native, currently living in Haverhill. A writer and photographer, she is also the owner of The Winged Rabbit gift shop in downtown Haverhill.