Archive for the ‘Eco-crafts’ Category


Are you still suffering flashbacks from wrapping, taping, and then cleaning up mounds of paper this year?  Even if you tried to go green by using recycled paper, wrapping everything and then cleaning up the holiday mess is labor intensive.  You may never have had have time to sew up a batch of gift bags before the holiday crush, but why not do it now?  Holiday fabric and ribbon are on sale and it will only take you about two hours to make bags that can wrap up all your gifts for years to come—with no waste and no yearly cost.  (My mom is still wrapping our gifts in festive bags that we’ve used for over thirty years!)  While you’re at it, whip up a few out of simple patterned fabric and have bags that can be used for birthdays, Valentines, and random surprises.

I am NOT a talented seamstress, but I’ll walk you through the steps so that you can stitch up some holiday bags yourself.  This one is made from ribbon we got for seventy-five percent off and fabric I had left over from my daughter’s curtains.

You’ll need:

  • Fabric (as much as you’d like to make small and large bags)
  • A sewing machine (Try to borrow one for an afternoon!)
  • Fabric Ribbon
  • Pins (optional)

fabric layout for homemade gift bagsFirst fold the fabric so that the outside pattern is facing inward.

Fabric gift bag directionsThen cut two six-inch pieces of holiday ribbon.  Lay the pieces on top of each other and sandwich them between the seam toward the top of the bag with the ribbon strings extending inward.

Rolled hem for homemade gift bagsSew a seam around the three sides of the bag, including the ribbon in the seam.  Then turn the bag inside out.  Finish off the bag by doing a rolled seam on the top edges to prevent fraying.  You’re done!

Finished homemade fabric gift bagIf you have time and skills you can applique patterns onto the bag front or stitch on decorative ribbons.  You can also use iron-on letters to personalize bags for each of your children. (My mom finally gave me mine after I’d had it for my entire childhood.)DIY finished fabric gift bags

The finished bags look really cute, pack up easily, and won’t cost you a dime for decades to come!  I hope you get a bit of time to make things easier on yourself next year.  If you’re swamped you can ask a crafty family member to whip you up a homemade set or buy a Wrapsacks set of gift bags on Amazon.  Have you found a way to avoid wrapping paper?  Please share!

Homemade Napkin Rings for HolidayEven small tots can participate in the holiday preparations with this simple craft.  If you use cloth napkins instead of paper on a regular basis, you may want to dress them up a bit for the festivities.  This simple craft should be done within an hour and will help your little one contribute to the holiday table.  If you already have a few of your child’s paintings to use, you’ll be done in just minutes!

Materials needed:

  • Paper
  • Tempera or watercolor paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape
  • Ribbon

Technically, these aren’t napkin rings at all, but simply decorated wraps for your cloth napkins.  Pick out the colors that will accent your holiday table and then set your child lose on a blank canvas.  When the painting is dry, cut it into two inch strips.  Roll your cloth napkins up and use the painted strip as a ring.  Cut and tape it shut.  Then add a decorative ribbon on top.  Done!

Why waste money on plug-in devices that spray chemicals into the air when you can scent your house with natural ingredients? This time of year, I like to buy whole cloves in bulk from the grocery store to make a simple homemade air freshener. All I do is take a small saucepan, fill with a cup or two of water, then sprinkle in a small handful of cloves. Keep the pan on low heat and let the spicy smell waft into the room. Of course, this does expend a bit of energy. I’m working on a bicycle-powered version of this little trick. . . .
clove-studded orange in bowl

Do you have any homemade potpourris or air freshener ideas? Do let us know!

How to Make a Proper Paper Snowflake

Do your paper snowflakes come out looking like doilies? Do you wish you had the creativity, skill, and expertise to cut out a proper paper snowflake? Keep reading to learn how a prize-winning* snowflake cutter makes it happen.

snowflake1
1. Fold a square piece of paper in half.

snowflake2
2. Fold it in half again.

snowflake3
3. Fold it in thirds, so it looks like this:

snowflake4

snowflake5
4. Cut the top part off.

snowflake6
5. Cut out pieces to create your snowflake design. Note that there is very little paper left! Cut nice, skinny lines to create a delicate paper snowflake. Cutting out tiny shapes all over will result in a doilyesque snowflake.

snowflake7
The finished product!

snowflake8
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

*All right, so I never really won a snowflake prize.

Paper snowflakes make the perfect cheap DIY holiday decorations. They work for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

homemade thanksgiving centerpieces use natural itemsWhen the last piece of Halloween candy has been devoured and the sugar high is over, it’s time to look forward to the cozy festivities of Thanksgiving.  If you happen to be preparing the feast this year in addition to being pregnant or the mother of a little one, you may feel oppressive exhaustion just thinking of a centerpiece.

Fear not!  There are several gorgeous things to choose from which are probably laying in your front yard or in the park up the street.  On a brisk autumn walk you and your child can easily gather lovely items to display on Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.

Here are some of Mother Nature’s offerings that will make for an elegant display:

  1. Fall Leaves: Gather them now and press them between heavy books.  If possible, look for dramatic contrasting colors so that you have a vibrant display.
  2. Mini-pumpkins, gourds and squash: Your local farmers market probably has some beautiful offerings that can be elegantly arranged on your tabletop.  And many of these artistic masterpieces are edible!
  3. Acorns: My three year old son has begun hoarding acorns in his pockets whenever we go to the park.  I didn’t understand his obsession until I looked a bit closer.  These little gems are so elegant!  Sprinkle them across your table runner and then save them for next year.
  4. Candles: For just a buck or two you can enjoy the soft glow of candlelight.  It enhances the mood, makes the food look even more delicious, and totally fascinates the children.  Could it even lead to better table manners?  We can hope…
  5. Potted Plant: Contrasting the shiny green leaves of the plant with your other fall centerpiece items will make for a lovely display of colors.
  6. Pine cones: If you happen to live in a zone full of coniferous trees, gather up a variety of pine cones and display them in all their geometric brilliance.  Days before the event you’ll want to immerse them in a bucket of water with some rocks on top for an hour or so and then dry them.  Otherwise you may have insects exiting the cones and making an entrance during Thanksgiving dinner.  Yuck!
  7. Apples: The bright reds, greens and yellows of this seasonal fruit go perfectly with fall leaves and autumn gourds.  Pick up a pretty array at a farm stand and then sample them in the days after the feast when you’re hungry for something other than bread and potatoes.

Do you have other easy ideas for Thanksgiving centerpieces? Are you in charge of the cooking this year?  Do you have tricks to share with the rest of us? Do tell!

While some of us have been lovingly hand-sewing Halloween costumes since Memorial Day, the rest of us are stuck sticking stainless steel colanders on our kids’ heads and making them trick-or-treat as “robots.” Last year we mentioned several DIY Halloween costumes—from the Cold Weather Bandit to the Glad Bag. (Yes, that’s right—we actually recommended dressing your kid as a garbage bag.)

What brilliant last-minute ideas were we able to come up with this year?

Baby burrito. Swaddle your baby in a white blanket, letting some lettuce or cabbage leaves peak out at the edges. Variations on this theme include baby spring rolls, baby eggrolls, or baby turkey wrap.  Here a doll is modeling this look, which took just one minute to create.

baby burrito halloween costume

Striped baby bug. If you can get your hands on some antennae—or make some out of pipe cleaners or something—then you can dress your baby in various striped garments for this look.

Gnome. Last year Audrey put on a brown tweed skirt and coat she had received as a gift. She wore striped tights and carried a tin watering can to collect her treats. I did need to sew a pointy green hat out of an old curtain, which took me about an hour or longer (because I am such a bad sewer), so this isn’t a completely last-minute costume option.

Charlie Brown. Is your baby bald? Do you have a yellow onesie and some brown shorts? Can you draw a passable zigzag pattern with a felt-tip marker? Then you can dress your baby as Charlie Brown.

Old Man. Again—is your baby bald? Do you have some baby-sized glasses, some sort of “old man” hat and maybe a sweater vest? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you might be able to dress your baby as an old man this year.

Alien. Dress your baby or child all in white and use a black eyeliner pencil to create huge alien-eyes.

Dick Cheney. One of our Green Baby Guide consultants came up with this one. “Another great costume idea for babies is the ‘Dick Cheney,’” he says.  “Dress them up in a little blue business suit and add a cheap pair of reading glasses and some white hair around the sides via cotton balls for a look that will delight Democrats and Republicans alike!”

Dick Cheney Halloween Costume Idea

ZZ Top. This costume idea brought to you from the mastermind behind the “Dick Cheney.” All you need is a set of twins, some fake beards, sunglasses, and grungy old hats.

zztop baby halloween costume

Baby Grecian. Another Green Baby Guide consultant suggested fashioning a toga out of a piece of fabric and crowning your baby with leaves. Brilliant!

Check this site out for baby costumes (including a baby muscle man and Sasquatch!) that require some actual crafting and sewing skills.

If worse comes to worst, you can always stick your baby in a cardboard box, bucket, or other baby-sized receptacle. What is this costume, exactly? “Baby in a box,” “baby in a bucket,” etc. All right, I’m clearly running out of inspiration. What are your best DIY Halloween costume ideas?

Making my own costumes out of household odds and ends works for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family!

It was my sister-in-law who came up with the idea: Why spend all that money on disposable diapers that just end up breaking down in a landfill for the next 500 years? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use nature’s bounty to diaper our babies? This fall is the perfect time to start carving your own diapers out of pumpkins. Simply choose an appropriately-sized pumpkin, carve out the top, scoop out the seeds, and cut out two leg holes. This DIY diaper requires no sewing.

Check out my niece sporting her all-natural homemade diaper:
baby wearing a compostable pumpkin diaper

While gDiapers claim to be compostable, they still contain SAP–a petroleum product that doesn’t really break down. A pumpkin may not have the wicking and absorbing powers of an ordinary diaper, but it is 100% natural and biodegradable!  No other diapers can compete with that.

Babies in pumpkins work for me. For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

First, take a square piece of paper and fold it in half. I usually just start cutting out the spider freehand, but if you prefer, draw the spider on the paper first, like this:

paper spider1

Then cut out everything surrounding the spider’s body and legs, leaving a border around the edge.

paper spider2

Open it up and there you have it: A creepy paper spider to hang up for Halloween. Tip: If you want the spider to be a black widow, cut a diamond shape out of the abdomen and tape a piece of red paper behind it.

paper spider3

How to Make a Paper Jack-o-Lantern

 Step 1: Fold a piece of orange paper in half. Draw half of a pumpkin on the paper if you don’t want to cut it out freehand.

paper pumpkin2

Step 2: Cut out the pumpkin, the mouth, and the nose.

paper pumpkin3

Step 3: Fold the pumpkin in half again for the eye. Draw on half of a triangle and cut it out.

paper pumpkin4

It will look like this when you unfold it partway:

paper pumpkin5

And then it will look like this when you unfold it all the way:

paper pumpkin6

Here’s a goofy variation once you’ve mastered the basic jack-o-lantern. Go wild!

paper pumpkin7

This post is a part of Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family. It’s another themed edition featuring cleaning tips this week. As usual, I am not on the ball with these themes!

  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: Eco-crafts
  • Pregnancy is a wonderful time to cherish the life growing inside of you. It is also the time to dress as a pregnant nun or the Pillsbury Doughboy. Sporting a watermelon-sized belly this fall and wondering how to best feature it in this year’s Halloween festivities? Check here if you want to view a photo gallery of some homemade costumes for pregnant women. (I love the “bun in the oven” costume!) Thrifty Fun has many excellent ideas, many of which I’ve listed below.

    juno pregnant maternity halloween costume idea

    • Man with a beer gut  (Optional: Your companion can dress as the wife)
    • Santa Claus
    • Pregnant animal—Say, a cat. Wear all black, attach a tail and ears.
    • Deviled egg
    • Construction worker wearing a hardhat and a tool belt. Fill the tool belt with diapers, wipes, bottles, and other baby gizmos.
    • Eight ball (Optional: A companion dressed as the pool cue)
    •  Beach ball—Wear a bikini top and shorts or a skirt, then paint the beach ball on the belly.
    • Lady bug—Add black polka dots to a red maternity top. Add antennas made from pipe cleaners and make or buy some wings.
    • Shotgun bride
    • Mother Earth—the belly is a globe.
    • Homer Simpson
    • Pregnant nun (Optional: Bring along a priest as a companion.)
    • Pumpkin
    • Fred Flintstone (Optional: Your companion dresses as Wilma.)
    • A cow
    • Black widow
    • The Pillsbury Doughboy
    • Juno (Optional: Companion dresses as Paulie Bleeker, complete with sweatbands and tall socks.)
    • The pregnant celebrity of your choice (e.g., Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes)
    • A barefoot and pregnant woman

    Any other costume ideas for the mother-to-be? All suggestions welcome!

    Do-it-yourself Halloween costumes work for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

    The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
    Eco-nomical Baby Guide
  • Recent Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blogs We Like

    Like us on Facebook   Subscribe to GBG
    Glutenfree Gourmand
    Melissa and Doug
    zulily2
    Zulily
    SmartKlean
    Zulily
    Gina Kelley
    Advertise

    Meta