How to Create a Fun and Easy Christmas Tree Ornament From Recycled Items.

Introduction: How to Create a Fun and Easy Christmas Tree Ornament From Recycled Items.

Recently I have become obsessed with creating crafts from recycled objects. I needed a simple and cheap craft for a large group of children so I decided to see what I could make using recycled items that wouldn't look cheesy.
A box, a puzzle missing a few pieces and an old catalog were transformed into a pretty cool Christmas Tree ornament. They can be made for practically nothing and can be done by people of all ages.
I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do.

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Step 1: Materials

Recycled Objects:
Box - I used a cardboard box that was too busted up to mail again.
Puzzle Pieces - I asked people on Freecycle to give me any 750-1000 piece puzzles that they knew were missing pieces. For this project I decided to use small puzzle pieces but if you wanted to create a similar wall hanging you could use bigger pieces.
Old Catalogs/Magazines - I had a lot of fun using busy pages (like plaid samples in a clothing catalog) but some solid spots are nice too. You REALLY do not need much.

Non- Recycled Items:
Ribbon/String - I guess this could be recycled but I didn't have any to "reuse"
Glue - White craft glue
Green Paint - I used spray paint because we were making a lot of ornaments and didn't want to hand paint them but if it was a smaller group of older kids I would have them sponge paint different shades of green on the pieces. Also if you are lucky enough to find a puzzle that is GREEN you can skip painting the pieces but the cardboard will still need to be painted.

Hole punch -
If you have one that captures the holes it makes this a much neater (as in cleaner because even without it the ornament is COOL).

Step 2: Step 1 - Cutting Out the Trees

There needs to be a base for the puzzle piece "branches" to be attached to so start cutting up your box.
I was careful NOT to have all 3 sides the same size because I didn't think it would look like a Christmas tree. I tired to make the trees around 3.5 inches high and about 2.5 wide but I didn't measure anything.  Some of the big ones are 4.5 inches by 3 inches. Really you can make them as big or as small as you want. In fact small ones might make a nice pin for your holiday sweatshirt..... I think I'll try that later.

Step 3: Step 2: Painting

Since I was doing this for a large group of kids I decided to pre-paint the pieces.

I put out the triangles and puzzle pieces and sprayed them with the paint. You do not need to totally cover the pieces. They just need to look green. MOST of the cardboard should be covered by the puzzle pieces so you won't really see it.  I gave the puzzle pieces a light coat of green and that allowed the "texture" of the underlying image to come though. The "branches" looked less flat that way.

If you had the time you could also sponge paint the pieces with different shades of green to provide more depth to the tree.

Step 4: Step 3: Assembling Your Tree

Before adding any pieces create a hanger by cutting a 5-6 inch length of ribbon and gluing both ends together to the top of the painted side of the tree. I had about  half an inch of ribbon on the cardboard. I wanted to make sure I could cover it with the top piece of the tree.

I found it easiest to "dry fit" my pieces before breaking out the glue.

I began at the top and tried to find a piece that gave me a point at the top of the tree. Then I added other pieces to create a rough tree shape. There are going to be LARGE gaps. Do not worry. Once you have a nice shape If you like the general shape glue down the first level.

Now add a second level to help fill in the gaps in the first level.

I added a single piece in a 3rd level to give the tree more dimension.

REMEMBER this is a craft not a science so go with what feels right.

Step 5: Step 5: Hanging the Ornaments

Time to pull out those magazines and catalogs and go to town with the hole punch.

Punch anything and everything you think might look cool. Actually scratch that... I could see people getting arrested for following that direction. Just punch out circles of designs you thinking would make fun ornaments for the tree.

If you want to use something else you could try small stickers or glue on some small rhinestones instead.

I only decorated one side of my ornament (I didn't even paint the second side of the cardboard because I wanted people to know it was recycled) but feel free to turn it over and make a second side to your tree.

Step 6: Other Thoughts

I think that this tree could be made in a few different sizes. A small one could be a holiday pin a large one could be a wall hanging.

I have also seen a similar ornament in the shape of a wreath using puzzle pieces so if you have extra ones try that (I didn't want to cut out donut shaped backing pieces so I went with trees)

I have so many additional puzzles people gave me that I am going to be using them to cover cheap frames. The puzzles have some amazing colors so I will not be painting them. I am planning on painting the frames a dark blue to match the puzzle pieces then dry fit the peices and glue them down... I have a nice photo of my bother and his girlfriend and am going to add 1 painted piece with "You complete me" on it to the corner of the frame.

Maybe there will be another Instructable coming.
Happy Crafting!!!

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    5 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Another project for odd puzzle pieces I did with my Children's Church class for Father's Day.
    Have the kids paint the pieces the colors of their choice - glue them around a picture frame with their picture inside. Add a little note at the bottom that reads - "Dad, you will always have a piece of my heart." Easy, cheap, the kids love making it and the Dad's love getting it.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I just heard back from my husband who was at the crafting event where they did these (I am away at my sister's baby shower). The trees were a complete hit with both the kids and the parents. I am thrilled about it.