Christmas presents should be given from the heart. Are you looking for gift ideas that show you care but not break the bank? Interested in helping the environment at the same time? Repurposing may be the answer!
These methods of repurposing that do not require advanced craft skills that will translate into unique, “one of a kind” gifts that do not look “too crafty”. Another advantage is that you can get friends or family involved, creating special memories for all involved.
Picture Frames – Painted Old picture frames can be found at garage sales, thrift shops and probably stored in your own home. Often, the glass is intact, but the frame becomes outdated. Wooden frames can be “repurposed” by using modern distressing techniques, which give them new life. This technique can also help restore the frame that has knicks and marks by covering them.
Pre-preparation includes deciding what color you want your frame. If you want solid coverage, it is best not to go from dark to light unless you are prepared to use several coats of paint or remove the stain first. If you want a distressed look, this may not matter. In this example, the frame is dark and the plan is to repurpose it into a white, distressed style.
First you need to prepare your frame. Clean your wooden frame using mineral spirits or your preferred wood cleaner. Some finishes will need to be removed with stripper but most do not. Use a fine grain sandpaper to prepare your frame for the new paint. Lightly sand the entire frame including the edges. Once you finish, clean frame again to remove residue.
Second, use a clean brush to paint your frame. If you want to achieve a transparent finish, consider mixing paint with glaze to thin it out and make it easier to work with. You will determine the amount of coats needed by personal preference.
To distress edges, use sandpiper in a slightly higher grain and rub edges and corners. This would be where the frame would age “naturally” over time. As you sand, you will see the dark color appear. Be careful not to “over sand” which could result in removing the dark stain. Consider a final coat of polyurethane to seal your project.
Picture Frames – Decoupage Picture frames make great gifts. Another technique to repurpose picture frames is to decoupage to match personal taste. Ideas are endless for this technique. You will of course need an old wooden frame with glass intact. Consider using old photos, magazines, fancy scrapbook paper, wrapping paper or other paper. Photos can actually be reproduced with a good copier to use instead of the original.
This idea is to select a few special pictures or mementos and use scrapbook paper in a trendy or traditional pattern which will accent, but not distract from, your pictures.
First, prepare your frame as in the first example. You will need a decoupage product (available at craft stores), brushes or sponges, scissors and materials.
Once your frame is prepared and the glass is removed, you will put the scrapbook paper on first. You can cut the paper in shapes, or consider “ripping” them in rectangular pieces and adhere in a random pattern. Once your paper is ready, add the decoupage product by brushing on the front and back. Adhere to the frame immediately. Then move on to the next piece and continue until all empty spaces are covered. Allow to dry in a cool area.
Once your frame is dry, it is time to adhere pictures or mementos. Cut items first and decide where you want to place them. Adhere using the same method, but be sure not to coat too much on the top, to avoid clumps of the glue product. Allow to dry once complete. Consider using polyurethane to seal the product.
Small Furniture – Decoupage and Distressing Technique This technique is identical to the decoupage frames idea, but you use small furniture such as stools, wooden boxes, small chairs etc.
It is especially important to prepare the item first and make sure there are no safety issues. Are there any loose nails that need to be replaced?
Then, proceed as listed above.
Family Cookbook – Family recipes are special, no matter your age or cooking ability. Consider gathering recipes from the recipient’s friends and relatives. Original handwriting makes this even more special.
You will need recipes, pictures, and a basic cookbook with a cover that can be decoupaged. You will also need inserts to add recipe cards.
For the cover, consider decoupage using the techniques already described. Polyurethane is not needed. Pictures of friends or family would add sentimental value to this cover.
You can also add pictures to the inside of the cookbook, next to the person’s recipe. What makes Grandma’s chocolate cake even more special is a picture of her right next to it!
Photo Album Cover Using Old Magazines, Album Covers, Pictures – Decoupage Technique This technique is similar to the Family Cookbook but you use an old or inexpensive scrapbook. Decorate the cover and add pictures and mementos to make a truly sentimental gift!
Cans from Canned Food Items – If you have one of those can top removers that leave a smooth edge, it can be repurposed. Be sure to clean the can thoroughly before beginning and make sure there are no rough edges.
Use paint made for metal and paint to desired color and finish. Add a magnet (available at craft stores) and you have a handy storage item for the side of a refrigerator. Black paint with a simple white initial looks great on a black or stainless steel refrigerator. Recipients actually can use this on other metal upright surfaces as well.
This is a great way to combine gift-giving, saving the Earth and creating sentimental gifts and memories. Be sure to “sign” your finished product on the back or underneath, and add the date. Perhaps “Merry Christmas from The Smiths – 2010”.
As you can tell, the ideas are endless. Let your creativity emerge to create original ideas. I hope these will help get you started!