Saturday, October 20, 2007

Top Six Eco- Friendly Gifts

Making your own gifts during the festive season is a great way to reduce your ecological footprint and have some fun while you’re at it. Homemade gifts are fun to make, use less resources and mean a lot to the people you give them to.

This post contains 6 of our favorite do-it-yourself gifts. Some are very easy, while others are a bit more challenging. Share these ideas with your friends, have a craft-making party, and most of all...

Have some good, green fun!

1 . Re-Usable Nature Calendar

Ever wanted to make your very own calendar? It’s easy, and it makes a great gift for kids and grown ups.

You Will Need
  1. The blank calendar grid
  2. 12 sheets of paper, preferably recycled or one-sided
  3. Pencil crayons, felt markers or gel pens
  4. Glue
  5. Scissors
  6. Magazines with lots of nature pictures, nature photos (ones you took yourself are best) or pictures you have drawn, or the kids have drawn
  7. A photocopier
  8. A hole punch
  9. 60 cm of thin ribbon or string
Sparkles, stickers or coloured paper

  1. Make 12 photocopies of the blank calendar grid. This is your basic calendar.
  2. Use a calendar that’s already been made to help you fill in the days of each month. Double check each month to make sure you have the right number of days, and that you started the month on the right day of the week.
  3. Find 12 photos, magazine pictures, your own drawings or anything else that you would like on your calendar and decide which photo/picture/drawing you would like for each month. Cut them to the right size if necessary.
  4. Glue the pictures on the calendar in the space that says ”Paste picture here”.
  5. Decorate the Calendar with sparkles, stickers or additional drawings if you like.
  6. Use the 2-hole punch to punch two holes at the top of the calendar. Try to center the paper under the hole punch.
  7. Cut 2 pieces of coloured ribbon or string about 30 cm each. Tie one piece of ribbon through each of the holes and use the scissors to curl the ribbon.
  8. Give it to someone special.

2 . Bead Necklaces

Did you know that you can actually make your own beaded necklaces & bracelets with shiny magazine pages and glue? They make great gifts and they’re a fun way to re -use glossy paper.

You Will Need:
  1. A stack of shiny magazine pages (ones with pictures are the best)
  2. White glue or Modge Podge(available at Hobby Shop, Mahalaxmi)
  3. Toothpicks or match sticks
  4. Scissors
  5. A paint brush
  6. String, fishing line, beading wire or thin elastic

  1. Cut the magazine pages from top to bottom, making long, thin triangles. The widest part of the triangle will become the length of your bead, so if you want big beads, cut wide triangles. If you want little beads, cut narrow triangles.
  2. Wind each strip around a toothpick or matchstick, starting from the wide end of the triangle, finishing with the pointed end. Put a drop of glue on the pointed end of the strip to make sure it sticks to the rest of the bead.
  3. Using a paint brush, coat the entire bead in white glue or Modge Podge.
  4. Let dry completely.
  5. Continue making beads until you have enough to make a necklace or bracelet.
  6. Once all the beads have dried, string them onto the fishing line, beading wire, string or elastic. Make sure you make the necklace long enough for the person you’re giving it to.
  7. Tie a knot on each end of the necklace to hold the beads on.

3 . Chocolate Truffles

Have you ever wanted to make your own chocolates? This recipe makes it easy and truffles are a great gift, especially if you put them in a fancy re-usable tin or box!

You Will Need:
  1. 3 packages semi-sweet chocolate chips (750 ml)
  2. 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz /420 ml can)
  3. 15 ml flavoring (vanilla extract, mint flavor, hazelnut flavor… banana… whatever you like
  4. Coatings: (optional) Icing sugar
  5. Cocoa powder
  6. Sprinkles (chocolate, coloured, or both)
  7. Finely chopped or ground nuts
  8. Flaked coconut
  1. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can put a bowl or small pot inside a larger one and put water in the bottom of the larger pot.
  2. When the chips are melted, add a can of sweetened condensed milk and stir until everything is mixed together
  3. Remove from heat and stir in flavoring.
  4. Put the mix in the fridge until it becomes firm (about 2 hours).
  5. Shape into 2.5 cm balls
  6. Place balls on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.
  7. Roll the balls in your choice of coatings. Try a variety of coatings.
  8. Chill for 1 hour or until firm.
  9. Store covered at room temperature.

4 . Dough Ornaments

These make a great festive decorations or gifts for family and friends.

You Will Need:
  1. 1 Liter Flour
  2. 250 ml Salt
  3. 375 ml Hot Water
  4. Cookie Cutters
  5. Glitter, sparkles, glue, paint, beads etc.
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients
  2. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  3. Knead the mixture until it becomes firm dough.
  4. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to about 1.5 to 2 cm thickness (just like making cookies).
  5. Use the cookie cutters to cut out shapes. You can mould the dough into your own shapes too.
  6. Place the decorations on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for about two minutes.
  7. Remove from microwave and let cool
  8. Decorate with paint, glitter, sparkles, whatever you like.
  9. HAVE FUN! You can make ornaments, fridge magnets, etc.

5 . Paper Mache Bowl

Paper mache bowls are a good way to recycle newspaper. They make a great gift, and they’re fun and easy to make.

You Will Need:
  1. One Newspaper
  2. Water
  3. About 30 ml Salt
  4. About 30 ml Glue
  5. A glass or ceramic bowl that you would like to use as a mould
  6. Piece of used plastic wrap (big enough to line the inside of the bowl you will be using
  7. Glitter, sparkles, glue, paint, beads etc.
  1. Rip newspaper into small pieces and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add warm or hot water until it just covers the mixture.
  3. Soak the mix overnight.
  4. Once it’s good and soggy, roll up your sleeves! Mix the pulp with your hands, squish it through your fingers and kneed it until it is the consistency of porridge. Mix until most of the lumps are gone. You may need to add a bit more water and let it soak a bit longer.
  5. When the mixture is as smooth as you can make it, add about 30 ml of salt. This will help to keep mould from growing if you store the mixture in the fridge.
  6. Mix it again with your hands. Once it’s well mixed, squeeze the pulp to get out any extra water.
  7. Now add about 30 ml of glue and mix again.
  8. Line the outside and rim o f your bowl with plastic wrap
  9. Place the bowl upside down on the counter (make sure your parents don’t mind you making a mess on the counter.) You can put down a layer of used newspaper if you want, to make the clean up easier
  10. Press the pulp onto the bowl, making sure to cover the bowl evenly with the pulp mixture.
  11. Smooth the mixture with your hands and let dry for at least 12 hours.
  12. Remove your new bowl from the form and make sure that the inside is dry. If not, you may need to leave it for a few more hours.
  13. When it is completely dry, you can decorate the bowl with paint, sparkles or whatever you choose.
Tip: You can speed up the soaking process by letting your newspaper and hot water mixture sit for a few hours and then putting it in a blender or food. Remember to add the glue and salt once your mixture
is smooth!

6 . Light Bulb Tree Ornaments

This is a great way to re -use old light bulbs and make festive decorations.

You Will Need:
  1. 1 burned out light bulb / or a bulb you are replacing with a CFL
  2. 1 pipe cleaner (for the hanger) / or thin wire that can be bent
  3. to make a hook
  4. 2 or 3 buttons or sequins
  5. A long, thin scrap of fabric for the scarf
  6. 2 small twigs for the arms
  7. A piece of candy corn for the nose
  8. A scrap of fabric or felt for the hat
  9. A pom pom
  10. A scrap of quilt batting, felt, fleece etc for hat)
  11. Acrylic craft paints in white, red, blue, black, green, yellow, brown etc
  12. Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  13. A pencil
  14. Scissors
  1. Paint the light bulb white.
  2. Decide how you want your snow man/woman to look. Use a pencil to sketch the features of your snow man/woman. When you’re happy with the design, begin painting .
  3. For the hat, create a cone shape from a square of coloured felt or other fabric and, use a hot glue gun to stick the hat together. Make sure it will fit over the light bulb. You can decorate the hat with strips of different coloured fabric if you like,
  4. Trim off the very bottom edge of the hat (the part that will go around your snow man’s forehead) and glue a strip of trim along this edge.
  5. Bend the hat so that it hangs down to one side and glue it in place.
  6. Glue a pom pom to the other end and your hat is done.
  7. Twist a pipe cleaner around the bottom of the metal base, just above the face, and twist the two ends together in an oval shape to create a hanger. Push this hanger down and place the hat over the metal base and the pipe cleaner hook.
  8. Use the glue gun to secure the hanger onto the metal base. Then secure the hat over the metal base as well. At this point, the hanger will be a loop that starts at the base of the hat (at the back of the head) and sticks down towards the ground).
  9. Once the glue has set, bend the hanger upwards and you’re done!

Happy Gifting
The Eco Responsive Team

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