my upcycled, diy, homemade holidays

This season was busier than most in the crazy ‘prepare for the holidays’ crunch. We decided to invite 10 people over for Christmas dinner (that makes 12 total) – a feat we had yet to attempt in our modestly sized Brooklyn apartment.

We started in November. Using no-VOC paint by Mythic, we gave a fresh coat to the living areas (still have to work on the rest of the apartment!). The stuff worked great – went on super smoothly & didn’t stink much, unlike traditional toxic paint. Painted interior, check.

One of our dining chairs was getting kind of ratty and I didn’t think we had the time to send it out to be reupholstered so I decided to tackle the task myself. I consulted my pile of fabric to be repurposed and found a curtain that we ‘inherited.’ Now all I needed was a staple gun. Easy peasy. (Here are the instructions.)

Reupholstered chair, check.

Another thing getting a lot of wear and tear was the throw pillows on our couch. I know I can make one, so why buy? Throw pillow, check.

We wanted to create a warm & cozy mood for our holiday festivities. So I went out and got my favorite beeswax candles from Big Dipper Wax Works. (They’re available at Whole Foods or on Amazon, too.) I didn’t have any candle holders and I’d been wanting to try out my Ephrem’s bottle cutter so I grabbed some old kombucha bottles I’d been saving up to upcycle into drinking glasses, or in this case, candle holders. It’s so ridiculously easy to do. Here are some rough instructions (the kit has more detailed info).

1. First, clean the bottles of all labels (this may require soaking in hot, sudsy water).

2. Next, lay the bottle on the wheels of the cutter and, holding firmly, turn the bottle towards you until you’ve met the beginning of the etch.


3. Then, hold the etched part of the bottle over a flame, turning slowly at first and speeding up. There should be soot building up on the spot.

4. Get it good and hot and then dip it in a bucket of cold water. The top of the bottle magically pops off, et voila! You’ve got a new product! (Actually two new products – the top can be used to make a lantern or turned upside down with the cap on to create a little dessert bowl or cup.

5. To finish the rough edged, get yourself some wet/dry sand paper, wet it down and smooth around the cut edge.

Candle holders, check.

I’d recently learned the art of soap & lotion making and wanted to show off my new skills to my family & friends. So I made a couple of batches of melt & pour soap and some bath fizzy bombs. We gave our party guests goody bags (see below) full of clean goodness. Handmade gifts, check.

I don’t really like to buy new wrapping paper, so I either reuse it for years or make my own. This year, my boyfriend got in on the act and we made a whole batch of paper together. I carved out some stamps (I learned this skill from Make Workshop last year). Using unfolded paper from some mailings we received, we stamped away in red, gold, and green (red, gold, and green!). Handmade blockprinted wrapping paper & gift bags, check.

This was all my bf’s doing, but I just had to mention it. We (he) made butter & ricotta (with some help from Brooklyn Farmhouse!) for the party. With the ricotta, he made Italian cheesecake. Delicious!

grass-fed cream makes all the difference

A very Merry Christmas, check.

How did you spend your holidays?

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3 Responses to “my upcycled, diy, homemade holidays”

  1. learnings for a new year Says:

    […] my upcycled, diy, homemade holidays […]

  2. will barter for skills Says:

    […] Back in October, I attended the Brooklyn Skillshare and learned some great skills which I’ve since applied at home: upcycling glass bottles into vases, drinking glasses (and more) and making butter and ricotta. (You can check out the results here.) […]

  3. get your {fashion} fixx Says:

    […] I had last night. As you may know, in addition to my love of herbs and natural body care, I love to remake things. Well, last night I got to play around with some tired old and moth-eaten clothes, remaking them […]

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