Portrait Of Two Senior Women Sewing Quilt Together

Upcycling is a wonderful way to turn a great find into a unique one-of-a-kind treasure and to do so without spending a lot of money. Other terms that you may have heard being tossed around that fall into this category are reused, shabby chic, and “trashion.”

Whatever you call it, it can be a whole lot of fun! First, there is the thrill of the hunt. As they say, one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. To find your treasure, you will probably need to sift through some stuff.

It is a fun challenge to look at something you find interesting and then figure out a way to transform it into a treasure for yourself or one you plan to share with someone else.

Wikipedia offers a great definition for upcycling: “Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The holiday season is in full swing, and there are various ways you can upcycle items to create treasures your friends and family will cherish for years to come. Let’s explore some DIY holiday gift ideas.

Upcycling with Books and Magazines

Go to any thrift or antique store and you’re sure to find books, and lots of them – many of them at very economical prices, oftentimes a dollar or less. This means that by using books to create new items, you can create some really extraordinary handmade gifts without laying out a lot of cash.

Create a small Christmas Tree or Snowman for someone who could use a little Christmas cheer.

Make a gorgeous pair of quilled earrings using a colorful page from a magazine.

Books can be used to create an end table or an end table with a little twist. A set of encyclopedias works especially well. Here is an excellent tutorial to make sure your stack of books holds up.

They can be glued to the back and seat of a chair or used to create a unique and interesting rug. This video shows you how to use a saw to cut books quickly and cleanly.

Use a piece of glass, a large board or an old door and lots of books to create a desk, coffee table or side table.

Books can be used to make shelves. This one does a nice play on words with Humpty Dumpty and the egg beater, plus the second book title being “All the Kings Men.”

Old books with historical clocks

How about a storage box or book safe? It can be compartmented like this one or it could be composed of one large compartment. Maybe a little more difficult, but how about an interesting shape … like a heart, for instance.

You can use the techniques in this video to decoupage any piece of wooden furniture or shelves using comic books. How fun would it be to take your kid’s or grandkid’s coloring projects and do the same thing? Or, to use cookbooks to create something for someone’s kitchen?

You’ll find lots of great DIY gift ideas with books here at 30+ Great Upcycling  Ideas for Vintage Old Book Pages.

Upcycling Watches and Clocks

Using the decorative faces from a couple of old watches, you can create a pair of Watch Face Earrings. Then, using some of the extra watch parts, metal washers, old metal buttons and a few jewelry findings, make a unique bracelet. Gears and other inner workings from old clocks would also make interesting components to use with a bracelet like this. Personalize the bracelet by inserting a special photo or other items, like an initial, behind the watch glass to give it a special little touch.

Turn any item into a clock with a clock kit you can get at a craft store or on Amazon. Here are a few handmade gift ideas to get you started: Use a mustard tin for a chef you know, an old saw blade (another blade idea) for a woodworker, a vintage book for a book lover or a bicycle gear or wheel rim for a cyclist.

Beginning around the 2-minute mark, this video, How to Make a Lolly Stick Clock, shows you just how easy it is to make a clock using a clock kit.

Upcycling with Old Dishes

Use this reverse stencil technique to turn any dish into a unique gift idea. Plates can be hung on the walls or converted into clocks. Cups and bowls can be made into candles. Glasses into candles or pencil holders. Here is an additional decorative plate video.

Other Fun Ideas and Sites

Here are a few other links with lots of interesting DIY gift ideas. Check them out. You’re sure to find inspiration for the DIYer in you.

Cropped photo of elderly craftswoman painting decorative plate in workshop


Well, that about wraps things up. You’re sure to have found a few ideas to make gift giving much easier this year. And there’s a whole lot of satisfaction in knowing that you created it.

And that’s a good thing too, especially at True Connection Communities. Our family-like atmosphere means you’re sure to have lots of family and friends to exchange upcycled handmade gifts with this Christmas. Contact us to learn more. And then get out your paintbrush and glue gun, plus one of your amazing antique store treasures and begin creating a very special handmade gift for someone you love.

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