50 DIY Natural Handmade Beauty Products That Make Great Gifts

Handmade soap

Image courtesy of M Car

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh? If you still have a long list of people to shop for, consider making some of your own gifts! You can beat the crowds at the mall and give something more personal as well.

Handmade beauty products are always a huge hit during the holidays. Fortunately, even novice DIYers can create some pretty great natural handmade beauty products if they follow the right recipe. And most people even have many of the ingredients needed to make some of these recipes lying around their homes already.

We’ve put together a list of 50 DIY natural handmade beauty product recipes for you right here, so you can get your Christmas list finished up pronto. (Hint – each idea listed below is a clickable link.)

For the Body

  1. Peppermint Sugar Scrub Bars
  2. Solid Perfume
  3. Sugar Scrub Flowers
  4. Healing Himalayan Salt Scrub with Grapefruit and Sandalwood
  5. Candy Cane Bath Bombs
  6. Whipped Gingerbread Body Butter
  7. Oatmeal Exfoliating Bars
  8. Bath Salts for Kids
  9. Sea Salt Body Scrub
  10. Slow Cooker Lotion Bars
  11. Calendula Lavender Salve
  12. Ultra Moisturizing Whipped Body Butter
  13. Homemade Deodorant
  14. Lemon Sugar Scrub
  15. Coconut Oil Body Scrubs
  16. Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrubs
  17. Peppermint Star Bath Bombs
  18. Brown Sugar Coconut Scrub
  19. Detox Bath with Ginger
  20. Spicy Coffee Sugar Scrub
  21. Natural Sunscreen
  22. Sugar and Sage Body Scrub
  23. Peppermint Foot Soak
  24. Peppermint Milk Bath
  25. Hard Body Butter Bars

For the Hands

  1. Manicure in a Jar
  2. Soft, Silky Hands Treatment
  3. Gardener’s Hand Scrub
  4. Foaming Hand Soap

For the Face

  1. Pomegranate Facial Scrub
  2. Yam Facial Mask
  3. Honey Facial Mask
  4. Honey Cinnamon Nutmeg Facial Mask
  5. Natural Face Toner
  6. Anti-aging Moisturizer
  7. Activated Charcoal Face Mask
  8. Coconut Mocha Face Mask
  9. Face Powder
  10. Smooth Hippy Shaving Cream
  11. Peppermint Tea Tree Aftershave

For the Lips

  1. Sweet Lips Sugar Scrub
  2. Soft Lips Moisturizer
  3. Mango Pina Colada Lip Balm
  4. Vanilla Peppermint Lip Scrub
  5. Peppermint Lip Balm
  6. Dreamcicle Lip Balm

 For the Hair

  1. Hairspray
  2. Herbal Goddess Soapnuts Shampoo
  3. Rosemary Honey Conditioner
  4. Tea Tree Hair Gel

There is sure to be something on the list for everyone on your list!

Do you like receiving handmade gifts? Will you be giving handmade beauty products for Christmas gifts this year?

Feature image courtesy of Annouk

The Essence Of Giving: 5 Essential DIY Holiday Gifts Made With Essential Oils

The mention of “fragrance” on a product label may seem innocuous, but this one word is likely to encompass a handful – if not dozens – of harmful chemical compounds that don’t have to be listed individually.

Manufacturers are not required to disclose the exact components included in fragrance due to the risk of other companies copycatting their formula, and unfortunately it has become commonplace to stash any number of questionable ingredients under the vague mention of “fragrance” on ingredient lists.

One way to neatly sidestep this scent condundrum is to skip artificial fragrances altogether, build your own collection of essential oils, and use them to make your own fabulous gifts. Here are five suggestions to get those DIY juices flowing:

Lavendar field

Lavendar field – Image courtesy of kennysarmy

1. Aromatherapy Playdough

Apparently it is no longer acceptable to give children small sips of whisky to take the edge off, and aerosol valium still hasn’t been invented yet. Thus, whipping up this naturally-scented homemade play dough might be the best gift in the world to give to the energetic children in your life (and their parents!) Using scents like lavendar or Sweet Marjoram can add a soothing aromatherapy component to an afternoon of tactile play.

2. Low-tech car air freshener

Cut a cute shape out of felt and attach a piece of ribbon or string to create a simple, pleasingly low-tech car air freshener. Adding a few drops of essential oils to the felt every week or so will keep a loved ones ride smelling good, naturally. Bonus points if you use an essential oil like pine that gives a nod to the old air freshener classic, without a trip to the convenience store.

eucalyptus

Eucalyptus – Image courtesy of jar ()

3. Soothing Bath Salts

Epsom salts are incredible for easing sore muscles and replacing depleted magnesium stores. Mixing up a batch of scented bath salts is simple, and makes a fabulous gift for the hardworking teachers in your life. Simply stir 10-15 few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or vanilla into 1 cup of epsom salts, and 1/2 cup baking soda (to soothe skin irritations and soften water). Package the salts in a nice glass jar, and voila!

4. Gardener’s Hand Scrub

The perfect gift for the green thumb in your life, this homemade hands scrub combines white sugar, gentle dish soap (substitute an eco-friendly brand for Dawn), and essential oils to gently lift dirt while softening tired hands. This recipe uses small mason jars to hold the scrub, and adding a pretty label and ribbon is the perfect finishing touch.

5. DIY Essential Oil Cologne

Don’t feel like the men in your life have to be excluded from the essential oil party. Whipping up a custom scent for your favourite dude is simple with essential oils, witch hazel, and water. Combine any combination of oils like sandalwood, cedar, or vetiver to create a perfectly masculine signature scent.

Feature image courtesy of kennysarmy

Uncork Your Creativity: DIY Recycled Wine Corks Bath Mat

Recycled wine cork bath mat.

Recycled wine cork bath mat. Image courtesy of Inhabitat

Enjoy a glass of wine with a bath? Why not indulge your passion for fine wine by recycling all of those corks you’ve been collecting and creating a stylish eco-chic recycled wine cork bath mat?

Wait, what? How could you possibly consider putting wine corks in a bathroom of all places? Think about it. Cork is the preferred method to sealing wine bottles, known for its ability to lock out liquid, and keep vino fresh. If it’s good enough to preserve your favorite bottles of wine, shouldn’t it be durable enough to craft with?

Cork has amazing properties that are highly desired in bathroom décor, too. Cork is inherently antimicrobial, antibacterial, hypoallergenic and resists mildew. You know, all of the benefits that companies try to impart on their products with the use of chemical additives to non-natural fibers and materials. Yet cork offers them up naturally, in a material that comes from the bark of a tree and is a more sustainable choice.

Oh, and you can probably get all that you need for free. So what’s stopping you? Here’s how to make a bath mat from recycled wine corks:

  1. First, you need corks. Like, 100-400 of them! Don’t worry. If you haven’t consumed that many bottles of wine (or you have, but you just haven’t kept the corks from the bottles of wine that you have consumed), just ask around. Scam some corks from your friends, or better yet, ask a bartender or wine shop if they could give you corks from opened bottles of wine.
  2. Next, you can either use a hot glue gun to attach corks to a non-slip backing, or you can stack up corks in a wooden frame.
  3. Among the easiest way to make a wine cork bath mat is to stack up the corks inside a wooden frame with raised sides, such as a shadow box. If you’re crafty, you could nail together pieces of wood to create a shadow box frame. However, make sure that there is a base underneath attached. Otherwise, reuse an old shadowbox or purchase one new.
  4. Now, simply add the corks. Place them vertically so that you can see the end of the wine cork. This will take the most amount of corks. Or you can place them horizontally so that you see the entire width of the corks. If you would like to make the wine corks more stable, hot glue them together on the edges. Or just place them in as tightly as possible so that they do not move around, without the need of glue.
  5. Another way to create a bath mat out of wine corks is to cut the corks in half and lay them flat on a non-slip base. A piece of corkboard could work well as a base, or a piece of non-stick shelf liner with a rubbery gripped feel. Cut the base to the size that you would like. With a knife, cut wine corks carefully in half. Glue each half to the base, stacking the corks side by side in rows.

Now go uncork your creative side – and that favorite bottle of wine!

Feature image courtesy of Sam Howzit 

Pucker Up! Gift DIY Cocoa Lip Balm This Holiday Season

As the holidays approach we are always thinking about gifts for our friends and family, especially handmade gifts. This easy DIY cocoa lip balm recipe can be made with only a few simple ingredients. And, who doesn’t love a little TLC for their lips this time of year!?  Ready to get started?

Lips pressed

Image courtesy of Myrmidon Formicidae

Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons organic unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure, filtered, unbleached cosmetic grade beeswax pastilles
  • 1 teaspoon organic cocoa butter
  • 2 capsules of vitamin E (optional)

Directions:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Using a heat safe bowl, place the bowl over the boiling water making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Place the coconut oil, beeswax, and cocoa butter in the bowl. Stir regularly to diffuse the heat. As soon as the items are all melted, remove from the heat.
  3. Optional – Open the two capsules of vitamin E and stir into liquid.
  4. Transfer the liquid into small glass containers while the mixture is still in a liquid state.
  5. Let the lip balm cool before placing the cap on.

Variations:

If you want to vary the above recipe, add some essential oils to make a flavor that your gift recipient will just kiss you for. Tip – You will only need to use a very small amount, about 1 or 2 teaspoons for each ‘batch’.  Here are a few variation options you might consider;

  • Peppermint or spearmint oil (minty)
  • Orange oil (sweet)
  • Camphor (good for cold sores, only use one drop very strong)
  • Tea Tree oil (anti-viral and anti-bacterial but can be an over powering scent some may not like it)
  • Vanilla (sweet)
  • Almond (sweet and can be combined with vanilla)

If you want your lip balm more glossy use 1/2 tablespoon of castor oil after your other ingredients have melted (but it is still in the bowl over the heat.) Stir it in until it is well mixed and remove from the heat.

Personalize packaging for the person you are giving this to based on their interests. You can also make several variations of this and give your friends a selection of lip balms.

Bonus recipe:

A great compliment to this gift is a lip scrub which is great to use when your lips are very chapped (and whose aren’t this time of year). All you need is three tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (warmed to a liquid state) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix together in a small glass jar. Rub a small amount of this on your lips – exfoliating the skin gently.

What is your favorite scent of lip balm?  Would you consider giving this as a gift this holiday season?  We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them with us in the comments section below.

Feature image courtesy of Toan Nguyen

Be The Handmade Holiday Hero This Year: 5 Amazing DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

Handmade is in. There is something so special about receiving a gift that someone put their heart into.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a crafting genius to create DIY gifts that are sure to get a smile. There are many things you can make yourself with items you likely already have around the house! And if you have mason jars and some ribbon, you have the packaging too.

Here are 5 DIY Christmas gifts you can easily make with items you already have in your home.

Sugar Scrub

You can make a basic sugar scrub with 3 simple ingredients.

  • Combine ¼ cup of oil (olive, melted coconut, etc.) and 1 cup of sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Combine, then add about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil and stir in.
  • Transfer to a cute mason jar and tie a ribbon around it and you have a lovely, handmade gift.
Sugar scrub cubes

Image courtesy of Marilyn Sherman

Bath Salts

Another very simple, yet classic DIY gift is bath salts. Just combine;

  • one cup of Epsom salt
  • one cup of sea salt
  • one cup of baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10-15 drops of essential oil

You can even add some lavender buds or crumbled rose petals at the end to make a visually stunning salt. Like the sugar scrub, place in a mason jar or other glass container, tie with a ribbon and gift to someone that could use a soothing bath.

Ice Candle

Image courtesy of Happy Mothering

Ice Crystal Candle Holder

All you need for this one is a mason jar, spray adhesive and Epsom salts. To create the Ice Crystal Candle Holder, spray the jar with adhesive then roll around in the Epsom salt until the jar is coated. Allow to dry then insert a candle and you have a sparkling gift!

Homemade Hot Cocoa Powder

For this recipe, you’ll need;

  • 1 ¾ cups dry milk powder
  • ¾ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • and goodies like marshmallows, broken candy cane pieces and mini chocolate chips.

You can either layer each item in the mason jar, or you can combine all of the powders then top with the goodies.  Download a cute tag to add to your mason jars here.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Everyone loves receiving special, handmade ornaments, right? To make salt dough ornaments, combine 4 cups of flour and one cup of salt, then stir in 1 ½ cups warm water. Knead until the dough is pliable and soft. Then roll it out and make shapes with cookie cutters. Make sure to use a straw or toothpick to make a hole for the ribbon.

Bake your ornaments at 325 F for about an hour, or until they’re hard. Once cool, paint and add special touches, then tie a ribbon to the top of each one. You can put a few into a wide mouth mason jar or a gift box. This is a great gift idea kids can help with!

Salt dough ornament heart

Image courtesy of Elin

These are just 5 DIY Christmas gifts you can make with items you likely already own. Reusing items from around the house reduces waste but increases the love.  Now what’s not to love about that!?

What is your favorite handmade gift to give?

Germs Gone Wild: 4 Natural Cleaning Recipes To Drive Away Dirty

Many store-bought cleaning products contain numerous toxins, such as synthetic fragrances, propylene glycol, and Ammonium Hydroxide. Making your own cleaning products is an easy way to save money and reduce toxins in the home.

To minimize packaging waste, save your spray bottles and jars to store your homemade cleaning potions to minimize packaging waste. With just a few basic ingredients, you can make a variety of products. These staple ingredients include baking soda, borax, washing soda, lemon juice, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Castile soap, and essential oils. If you have children, this can even be a fun family project.

Here are four simple, natural cleaning recipes that will have you saying goodbye germs in no time.

Natural Disinfectant

Ingredients:

  • Fill a dark spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Fill a separate bottle with white vinegar

To disinfect surfaces, such as counters, door knobs, tabletops, sinks, cutting boards, and even the toilet, spray a few times from each bottle (the order doesn’t matter) and then wipe. This system can be used on produce, but rinse with water before eating. Note, the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be mixed together in the same bottle before applying, as it causes the hydrogen peroxide to break down.

Research from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University shows this simple system is highly effective at killing a variety of germs, including E. coli and Salmonella. Although vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are both strong disinfectants on their own, they are particularly potent when they team up.  Don’t have time to create this recipe? Check out our natural cleaning products available at YouChange.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 bar of soap (Fels-Naptha or Castile bar soap are popular options)
  • Several drops essential oil (optional)

Finely grate 1 bar of soap by hand with a box grater or in a food processor. If you want an unscented laundry detergent, use unscented bar soap.

Add the bar soap, washing soda, borax, and essential oil (if desired) into a mixing bowl and stir. Put the mixture into a sealed container. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load of laundry as the water is filling the washing machine.

* Note: This detergent can be used in both standard and HE washing machines.

Laundry Stain Remover

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 part liquid dish soap (Dawn is often recommended)

Dish soap is good at breaking down oil, while hydrogen peroxide allows stains to fade or disappear. Shake the bottle before applying and beware that hydrogen peroxide can have a lightening effect, so use with caution on colored items.

Mix the two ingredients together and add to a dark bottle or store in a dark place, as peroxide breaks down in light. Apply the mixture an hour or two before laundering.

Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/4 cup citric acid
  • optional: several drops of essential oil

Mix together ingredients and store in a sealed jar. Use 2 tablespoons per load and pour in a couple tablespoons of vinegar in the rinse compartment to help remove sediment.

Disinfecting or cleaning your home doesn’t have to done with products be laden with chemicals.  These easy to create recipes are made with all natural, safe ingredients.  Add to that reduced waste, and you have a recipe for a clean, eco friendly home.

Feature image courtesy of Andrés Þór

Trade You A Hammer For A Nail: Home DIY Project Market Gets Social

As the use of the internet and social media has grown, so has the proliferation of home DIY projects. According to a survey conducted by TheStreet, Inc. and GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, 70% of all home projects now involve some sort of DIY component.

It’s so easy to hop on Pinterest or your favorite DIY website to locate a project; why hire someone when you can save money and do it yourself? Of course, DIY projects can become costly very fast if you don’t adhere to a strict budget.

Supplies alone can get expensive if you’re paying retail prices for new materials. There are now websites that help DIYers locate free materials for their projects – and for people looking to unload their unwanted supplies.

Home DIY project

Image courtesy of Kevin Bailey

For example, DIY Exchange is a free website that was created to help DIYers locate, share and sell extra DIY project and home repair materials. Members can find (and list) a wide variety of items, including appliances, light fixtures, fencing, joint compound, drywall and much more on DIY Exchange.

Another useful feature is the ability for members to barter labor for labor, ask and answer questions within the community, offer project coaching and discuss stories of success. It’s designed not only as a listing site like Craigslist, but one where DIYers can build a community.

Saving the green in your wallet isn’t the only reason to reuse construction materials – saving the environment is another huge factor. According to Green Waste, home construction, remodeling and demolition projects account for 25-30% of the country’s municipal solid waste each year. The U.S. EPA says that 170 million tons of excess home renovation materials end up in landfills annually. However, the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association estimates that number to be closer to 350 million tons.

Instead of contributing your old home improvement and DIY supplies to our growing landfills, you can make an eco-friendly decision to pass them onto someone who will put them to use. If you simply don’t have the time to list your materials on the DIY Exchange website, another option is to call up your local Habitat for Humanity chapter and see if they need materials for an upcoming project.

Either way, it will serve us all best to reduce the amount of waste that goes into our landfills. Paying forward our home renovation and DIY project materials is one simple way to do that.

Feature image courtesy of Sean

(DIY) Non-Toxic Finger Paint Recipes So Easy A Kid Could Do It

Kids love to unleash their creativity with arts and crafts. Some of those art supplies, though, can be toxic, which is especially problematic for younger children still prone to put everything in their mouths.

How can you encourage artistic self expression and protect your children from chemical exposures? Create your own finger paints from ingredients in your pantry, of course.

So easy a kid can do it

Finger paints are among the easiest arts and crafts for young children. All you need is the paint and a canvas – be it a plate, paper, cookie sheet or tabletop.

If you are going to be covering your kid’s hands with paint, though, you want it to be safe enough to ingest. Good thing that inexpensive kitchen staples such as flour and corn starch can provide hours of creative fun.

Homemade finger paints can be created with a variety of food ingredients. It depends on what you have on hand at the moment, as well as what your child’s allergies and sensitivities might be. Remember, anything your child cannot eat should not be used to create finger paints.

While the recipes are certainly edible, that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be tasty. However, your kids won’t be ingesting synthetic chemicals or toxins if they decide to put their fingers in their mouth using these non-toxic finger paint ideas:

A dash of color

Finger paints can be created from just one food, too. Consider using yogurt as an edible finger paint ideally suited for small children. Colors can be added if desired. Pure mashed fruits and veggies are also a colorful finger paint option, whether straight from a baby food jar or mashing up produce from the garden.

It is important to use only organic and food-derived food colorings in any recipe to limit your child’s exposure to synthetic ingredients. Conventional food colorings contain synthetic colorants. Natural food colorings are available that are derived from fruits, vegetables and other colorful foods. Alternatively, mashed up colorful foods, such as blueberries, can add a non-toxic color to the paint.

Consider pouring portions of the finger paint base into individual sections of muffin tins. Each muffin tin can be individually colored, yet all of the paints are in one container.  Ice cube trays are another smart container for smaller amounts of paint. Paints can also be mixed in old glass jars with lids, such as baby food jars, or any repurposed small container, and stored for more arts and crafts fun at a later time.

A few heads ups:

  1. These non-toxic paints can be a little thicker than store-bought varieties
  2. Consider using a paintbrush for older children to apply to the paper
  3. The thicker paint will also take a bit longer to dry.

Now let the kids go (non-toxic) paint the town!

Feature image courtesy of Renate Flynn

Burn The (Halloween) Midnight Oil: Transform Halloween Into DIY Candles For Thanksgiving

Well folks, Halloween has come and gone once again, leaving in its wake a trail of spiders, witch hats, and a lingering sugar-high that may well last into late November.

Now of course the question is, what does one do with all the spooky decorations? Most are easily boxed up and stored to be re-used next year, but what about all those tiny pumpkins and gourds that so brightly adorned your mantle and front porch?

You can certainly compost them, or keep them around for Thanksgiving decor, but you can also employ a little ingenuity to create a fun autumn craft that will make your home feel warm and inviting until the snow blows.

This simple tutorial teaches you how to create festive Thanksgiving candles out of leftover gourds and mini-pumpkins using just a few basic supplies. With natural beeswax and lead-free wicks, hollowed out mini-pumpkins are transformed into cute, waste-free, natural DIY candles.

The process is simple, and a perfect activity for little hands to help with (just make sure adults handle the power tools and hot wax).

  • First drill a hole in the pumpkin or gourd to hollow it out, or alternately, use a knife to cut the top off and scoop out the seeds as though you were making a tiny jack-o-lantern.
  • Once you have created a hollow inside, use a tin can or double boiler to melt pure beeswax until it becomes liquid.
  • Cut a lead-free wick so that it extends about a quarter inch above the top of the gourd and place it inside, holding it centered while you pour in the beeswax.
  • After you have poured the beeswax, place the finished candles somewhere where they won’t be disturbed and allow them to harden and cool.

Not only is this a great way to re-purpose Halloween decorations, but these homemade candles readily replace store-bought versions which may use artificial waxes, wicks which may contain lead, and a host of artificial fragrances, too.

When complete, these natural votives make great seasonal decor, thoughtful hostess gifts, or, paired with a sweet note, they can become wonderful Thanksgiving gifts for your children’s hard-working teachers.

Feature image courtesy of rjcox

Upcycled Secret Book Safe Tutorial

How to make a secret book safe. Photo: Dinah Wulf

How to make a secret book safe. Photo: Dinah Wulf

What can you do with an old book? You can try giving it to a library or secondhand bookstore, but not all books are acceptable for donation, including those that have out-of-date information or are too damaged to read. Being the trash-to-treasure gal that I am, the answer to this question for me is simple: I upcycle it!

For one recent project, I made a book-safe. I’d wanted to give something like this as a gift, but I figured that I would have to buy it because it would be too difficult to make.

But I took the time to figure it out, and it was a lot easier than I thought. Here is how to make a secret book safe.

Materials:

  • Thick, hardback book
  • Decoupage medium or glue-and-water mixture
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paint brush
  • Sharp knife
  • Metal straightedge

Step 1: Wrap the cover and front pages

Although the book I used was slightly damaged, I wanted to keep a few of the front pages intact to show the copyright date and an illustration. So I covered the front cover, those pages plus one extra page with plastic wrap to protect them from glue I’d be using in Step 2.

Photo: Dinah Wulf

Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 2: Brush the book’s edges

I used Mod Podge, a decoupage medium, and a paint brush to seal the three edges. Make sure you saturate them with approximately three coats.  Allow the Mod Podge to dry (about 15 minutes) between each coat. Then set something heavy on top of the book to create pressure.

Photo: Dinah Wulf

Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 3: Mark the area to cut

Next, using a straightedge and a pencil, I marked the area I wanted to cut out.

Step 4: Make the cuts

Using a sharp knife and a metal straightedge, I carefully cut out a few pages at a time, making sure to remove small bits and pieces along the way. Take your time while doing this step.

Photo: Dinah Wulf

Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step Five: Seal the edges as you go

After I reached the desired depth, I sealed the inside edges with Mod Podge and allowed it to dry completely.

Step Six: Final touches

I then used Mod Podge around the top edges and glued the extra front page on top.  After a few minutes, I used the knife to cut out the center.  This top page gives it a nice clean look.

That’s it in six simple steps! Be sure to save the book pages for other book page craft projects. Also, consider using ribbon to cover the inside edges or decorative paper to cover the inside back for a more finished look.

Dust Off an Old Filing Cabinet and Turn It into Something New

Take your old filing cabinet from functional to fun with these upcycling ideas.

Take your old filing cabinet from functional to fun with these upcycling ideas. Photo: Shutterstock

Was being more organized one of your New Year’s resolutions? Then it’s time to dust off that old filing cabinet in the garage and give it a new look.

If you’re still using the cabinet, file these tips away for later: House Revivals compiled a list of ways to upcycle your filing cabinet into an end table, kitchen island, work bench and more. A standard piece of office furniture never looked so chic!

If filing cabinets aren’t your thing, check out 12 ways to upcycle other thrifted furniture.

DIY: A Hand-Me-Down Play Table Makeover

Getting hand-me-down furniture is a great way to keep good stuff out of landfills. But if your new-to-you pieces need a little refreshing, it can be hard to know where to start. Blogger Dinah Wulf explains how she ‘glammed up’ a play table she received from a friend. You can adapt her simple steps to almost any furniture face-lift project.

When rescuing furniture, look for pieces that have a solid structure. Photo: Dinah Wulf

When rescuing furniture, look for pieces that have a solid structure. Photo: Dinah Wulf

One of my best friends gave me a Disney princess table when she moved. I loved the shape of the chairs and the storage pocket in the center; however, it was a little worn from use. I took the table on as DIY project and glammed it up a bit, giving it a Hollywood Regency style. This project required priming and painting as well as adding seat cushions, a monogram and a clear crystal knob.

Step 1: Sand and prime

I used a light sandpaper to remove a few old stickers and then cleaned the surface. Even though the surface was already smooth, I decided to prime it first. Two coats of primer worked perfectly. (When priming, make sure the first coat is completely dry before you add the second.)

For furniture with scratches and a dark pattern, prime it first. Photo Source: Dinah Wulf

For furniture with scratches and a dark pattern, prime it first. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 2: Add paint — and protection

I painted both chairs and the table with two coats of white paint. After the paint dried completely, I used painter’s tape to create my Hollywood Recency–style design.

Next, I painted my design and the storage cover blue. I also used the blue paint for the balls on the table and chair legs. When the paint was completely dry, I used two coats of polyurethane to protect the furniture from its future encounters with crayons and markers!

Pull the fabric taut while stapling the fabric. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Pull the fabric taut while stapling the fabric. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 3: Add cushions

For the seat cushions, I used a circular wooden plaque, polyester fiber fill and fabric. In regard to cutting the fabric, I find that it’s best to keep some extra material (see the above photo) and trim it after you’ve finished attaching it.

I glued the seat cushions to the chair with extra-strength wood glue and added a self-adhesive monogram. I also added a few coats of decoupage medium to seal in the monograms. Finally, I reattached the storage pocket and added a knob to the lid.

A children's play table after a makeover. Photo: Dinah Wulf

The children’s play table after the makeover. Photo: Dinah Wulf

I have had this table now for more than two years and it’s still in great shape. My daughter uses it every day. It’s definitely one of my favorite trash-to-treasure pieces.

Make a Recycled-Magazine Frame in 4 Easy Steps

A recycled-magazine frame makes a great gift. Photo: Dinah Wulf

A recycled-magazine frame makes a great gift. Photo: Dinah Wulf

I have always wanted to make something out of magazine pages. With some careful crafting, you can achieve a mix of images and colors that looks quite lovely.

I finally sat down and made a recycled-magazine frame to give to my brother. Although this project was at times slightly tedious, I have to say it was also a lot of fun to make — and the end result was well worth it.

Here’s the four-step process I used to pull this off. Try it out and let me know what you think by sharing feedback in the Comments section.

Materials

  • Any frame
  • Old magazines
  • Tape
  • Paper cutter
  • Decoupage medium
  • Small paintbrush

Step 1: Gather magazines

Gather a few magazines that you’ve already read and no longer want. (I say “a few” because I used pages from four different Rolling Stone magazines to get the colors I wanted.) Consider the colors you would like for your frame, then find and cut pages with those colors out of the magazine.

Step 2: Start cutting

Cut the magazine pages into strips. I made the width of my strips the same width as the frame I chose. The frame holds a 3-by-4-inch photo, and each side of the frame is 1 inch wide. I ended up cutting 1-by-7-inch strips out of eight or so magazine pages.

Next page: Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ and Get to gluing

DIY: Upcycling Garage-Sale Finds

Upcycling a garage-sale find can be a perfect DIY project. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Upcycling a garage-sale find can be a perfect DIY project. Photo: Dinah Wulf

I adore going to garage sales. With a little time and effort, you can find hidden treasures that just need a little TLC. You’re helping sellers off-load their unwanted items (so those hidden treasures don’t end up in the trash!) while also helping yourself by saving a few bucks.

Not long ago, I bought a red bench for $5 at a garage sale. I brought it home and turned it into the perfect DIY weekend project.

With a little cleaning and by adding an upholstered cushion, I upcycled my find into something fun and comfy.

Ready to tackle your own found-furniture face-lift? Follow my step-by-step process.

To do a project like mine, you’ll need:

  • A bench (or similar type of furniture)
  • Spray paint with primer
  • High-density craft foam
  • Scissors
  • A yardstick
  • Fabric
  • A staple gun and heavy-duty staples

Next page: Steps 1 and 2: Cleaning and painting

6 Easy Eco-Actions to Take with Your Kids

When you think about moving toward a greener lifestyle, recycling often tops the list — and for good reason. However, there are many more ways to incorporate eco-friendly actions into your family life. Below are six easy, kid-friendly activities you may not have considered.

A young girl mails in her recyclable toothbrush. Photo: Donna DeForbes

A young girl mails in her recyclable toothbrush. Photo: Donna DeForbes

1. Switch to an eco-friendly toothbrush

Since dentists advise us to replace our toothbrushes every three months, using a green one seems like a sustainable no-brainer. Here are a few to choose from.

Preserve toothbrush handles are BPA-free, made from recycled #5 plastic yogurt containers. And after you’ve used the toothbrush for three months, you can mail it in (postage paid) to be recycled again. They also have toothbrushes specially designed for kids.

The Environmental Toothbrush, invented in Australia, is made of biodegradable bamboo. The packaging is biodegradable, too. Their toothbrushes come in adult and child versions, and you can order a year’s supply.

Brush with Bamboo also offers a BPA-free bamboo toothbrush in compostable packaging.

2. Have “power down” days

In our tech-addicted society, it’s refreshing to take a tech break once in a while. “Powering down” means spending a day without the television, computers, phones, etc. It’s a way of slowing life down while reconnecting with your loved ones and yourself.

A few summers ago, my neighborhood experienced a five-day blackout after a storm, and this unintentional “power down” ended up being quite enjoyable.

The silence was delicious; you don’t realize how much background noise is created by household appliances until the power goes out. Undistracted by electronic devices, my family played board games, read books, took long walks and shared meals with our neighbors. We showered by candlelight and went to bed early, against a background of cricket song.

The lack of electrical power reduced our energy consumption, yet we felt more energized afterward. It inspired us to integrate regular “power down” days into our year.

3. Keep kids in their favorite clothes

If your child is like mine, he or she has a few favorite outfits they prefer to wear over and over and over again. And what’s wrong with that? Too many times an outfit goes into the hamper after just one wear even though it looks perfectly fine. Little kids don’t have body odor yet, so why waste time and energy doing more laundry?

Your washer and dryer (and your kids) will love you for it. Plus, less-frequent washing is one more way to extend the life of your clothes. In the same way that some people use the three-second rule for food dropped on the floor, why not enforce the three-day rule for clothing? Only toss it in the hamper after it’s been worn three times. As long as your child has clean underwear, you’re good.

Next page: Eat ice cream by the cone; Get creative with trash; Donate to a green cause

8 Tips for Greening Your Super Bowl Party

Hosting a green Super Bowl party is easy if you follow some of our simple tips. Photo: Shutterstock

Hosting a green Super Bowl party is easy if you follow some of our simple tips. Photo: Shutterstock

The National Football League has taken steps to make Super Bowl XLVIII a green event, including purchasing renewable energy certificates, hosting e-waste recycling events and using biodiesel in outdoor generators.

How can you do your part? If you’re hosting a party for the big game, help green the event by making your gathering as eco-friendly as possible. To help you do so, we’ve put together a list of eight simple tips for planning your green Super Bowl party.

1. Green your TV

Photo: Shutterstock

Even your TV can be green. Photo: Shutterstock

Having a group of people watch a game together does save some energy, since only one TV will be on instead of many. Still, most people want to see a football game on a big screen. If you’re considering buying a new TV for your party, choose an energy-efficient model. Many televisions are Energy Star certified, and on average these models are 25 percent more energy efficient than other models.

If you do choose to buy a new TV, be sure to donate or recycle your old one. The EPA offers suggestions for where to do this, or you can search for local options here at Earth911.

Next page: Make food at home

How to Lower Your Pet’s Carbon Pawprint

Photo: Shutterstock.

Even the cutest of pets can have not-so-cute effects on the environment. Photo: Shutterstock

Sparky might be your best friend — but he’s not exactly eco-friendly, according to a recent article by Care2.

The truth is, owning a medium-size dog can potentially be just as bad as owning a gas-guzzling car. Things like non-biodegradable poop scoop bags, kitty litter, pet food packaging, medications and more lead to a high carbon pawprint for your furry friend.

Does this mean you can’t be a pet owner and eco-conscious at the same time? Of course not! There are several ways to lower your pet’s environmental impact:

Do you have any other tips for lowering your pet’s carbon pawprint? Let us know in the comments below.

5-Minute Tutorial: How to Make Skinny Jeans

The perfect pair of skinny jeans is just 5 minutes away. Photo: Shutterstock.

The perfect pair of skinny jeans is just five minutes away. Photo: Shutterstock

When it comes to jeans, the perfect fit can be hard to find. And for anyone on a budget, it can sometimes be near impossible. But don’t despair — you can turn an old pair of jeans from the back of your closet (or the shelves of a thrift store) into jeans so tight that even the hippest of hipsters will be swooning.

Blogger Jen at iCandy Handmade provides a great tutorial on how to turn a not-so-flattering pair of pants into stylish skinny jeans. Check out her simple step-by-step tutorial, complete with helpful photos. Head’s up: her fix requires a sewing machine, but the stitches are simple and fast.

If your old jeans really are completely unwearable, check out some of our great reuse ideas for old jeans.

Upcycle Your Christmas Cards into Bottle-Cap Magnets

Bottle-cap magnets are a great way to upcycle photos from holiday cards. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Bottle-cap magnets are a great way to upcycle photos from holiday cards. Photo: Dinah Wulf

I love receiving the family-photo Christmas cards I get from my friends. The cards are great, showcasing my friends and their families as they change over the years. The whole family is dressed up and looking their best. The only problem is that the cards sit in a drawer, get tucked away in a box, or even eventually get tossed in the recycle bin. And I feel horrible throwing them away! So I decided to upcycle them into something that I can look at every day: bottle-cap magnets. Making these Christmas-card bottle-cap magnets, I literally turned trash (the bottle caps, not the photos) into treasure.

This project took me some time — days, in fact. Why? Because I, of course, took the cheap route! I chose to use decoupage medium because it was already in my craft closet. For quicker results, you can use resin or other mediums.

Materials

  • Bottle caps
  • Decoupage medium
  • Old pictures
  • A half-inch circle craft punch
  • Magnets
  • Strong adhesive, such as E 6000

Step One

First, fill each bottle cap three-quarters full with decoupage medium. Gently lift and tap the cap on your counter to even and smooth out the glue. This also helps eliminate small air bubbles. Set the caps aside for a while. (I waited 24 hours.)  Meanwhile, use the craft punch to punch out the pictures that you want to use.

Step Two

In step two, the photo is put in the cap. Photo: Dinah Wulf

In step two, the photo is put in the cap. Photo: Dinah Wulf

Your first layer of glue should have hardened slightly. Put another small dab of glue on top of that first layer and then insert your photo. Add a second layer of glue. Again, gently tap the bottle cap on a hard surface to even and smooth out the glue. Allow the second layer to dry. (This time, I waited 48 hours.)

Step Three

Next, attach the magnets to the back of the bottle cap using a strong adhesive. The glue will dry completely clear over time (approximately 48 to 72 hours).

You could also package these cute magnets in a small treat bag with a personalized label and give them as homemade gifts!

Eco-Friendly Hair Dyes You Can Buy or Make Yourself

Most hair dyes contain harsh chemical ingredients that may be harmful to you and the environment. Choose a a low-impact pick instead! Photo: Shutterstock

Most hair dyes contain harsh chemical ingredients that may be harmful to you and the environment. Choose a low-impact pick instead! Photo: Shutterstock

Coloring hair for a new look or gray coverage is routine for many of us, but commercial dyes often contain chemical ingredients that are potentially harmful to both humans and the environment.

P-Phenylenediamine (PPD), an active ingredient in most hair dyes, has been linked to skin irritation, as well as immune and nervous system problems. Ammonia, another common hair dye ingredient, can cause respiratory problems and throat irritation.

If you’ve ever colored your hair, you’ve likely noticed these chemicals in the form of a harsh odor or burning sensation, but these ingredients can also harm local ecosystems long after they’re rinsed out.

To put it simply, when you wash commercial hair dyes out of your hair, chemical ingredients often wind up in local waterways. Ammonia has been linked to soil acidification and changes in ecosystems, and the EPA notes that chemicals associated with personal care products like hair dye are proven to be in our water supply.

Luckily, you don’t have to stop coloring your hair altogether to keep yourself and the planet safe. A growing number of salons are embracing organic and nontoxic hair dyes, and there are even a few boxed hair colors that nix harsh chemical additives. If you really want to ensure you don’t come in contact with chemicals while dyeing your hair, you can even do it yourself at home using natural ingredients.

Read on for the details, and kick those chemical-laden colors to the curb.

Next page: On the Shelf

Fix Broken Gadgets Yourself with Help from iFixit.com

Consumers can send fewer phones to landfills by repairing them instead of upgrading. Photo: iFixit

Consumers can send fewer phones to landfills by repairing them instead of upgrading. Photo: iFixit

A cracked iPhone screen doesn’t have to mean that you need to buy a brand-new replacement.

While incentives from cellphone service providers make it tempting to upgrade every year or two, repairing old devices can do wonders for your wallet — and the environment.

That’s because it’s difficult to fully recycle electronics. Often, the gadgets are actually shipped to other continents where their valuable parts are harvested. Chemicals released during this process can contaminate local soil and water supplies, and unsalvageable materials end up in landfills.

If consumers double the length of time they use their gadgets, the amount of e-waste created could be cut by 50 percent.

iFixit aims to curtail this harmful cycle by providing free DIY repair manuals for everything from phones and household appliances to game consoles and cars.

It was founded in 2003 by Luke Soules and Kyle Wiens, engineering students at California Polytechnic State University at the time. The idea behind iFixit came about when Wiens couldn’t find the repair guide he needed to fix his iBook.

“I knew there was a service manual, and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t online,” says Wiens. “Apple was … [preventing] people from being able to fix their machines.”

After a bit of a struggle and lots of frustration, he figured out how to fix the computer. Then he decided to write his own repair manual for it and to make this one available on the Internet. “The nice thing about being young and stupid is you don’t know what’s not possible,” Wiens adds.

The repair manual received 10,000 hits during its first weekend online.

Next page: Why We Need to Fix Electronics Instead of Tossing Them