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DIY decorations for your event 

Make these upcycled ideas from household items – they’re free and easy!

Decorations can help your event to feel welcoming and well-organized, but they don’t need to be bought new. You can make a huge range of DIY decorations from items around the house and in your recycling – here’s our top upcycled ideas! 

Why not host a craft evening with your community to create a set of brilliant decorations that can be used at multiple events?

Paper decorations

With some crafty recycling, you can create a variety of fun paper DIY decorations. Use brightly coloured paper if you have any old gift bags or used wrapping paper can do the trick nicely! 

  1. Paper chains – an easy classic which can really brighten a room or garden with very little effort (and one which you can set the kids to do without much preparation!). Simply cut strips of paper and glue them into rings, each one interlocking with the one before. Here’s a guide on how to make people paper chains.
  2. If you’ve got old newspapers or magazines lying around, try some newspaper streamers to add some zazz. These ones are sewn together, but you could just as easily use glue or a stapler to achieve the same effect.
  3. Empty egg cartons can be turned into egg carton flowers with a bit of paint or felt tip pens. You can punch a hole in them to hang them with string or attach them to old lolly sticks or skewers to create a bouquet! Find out how.
  4. Speaking of flowers, you can also make a bunch of blooms from toilet rolls. They’d be great as table decorations or can be made into a wreath – the possibilities are endless! There are loads of ways to create them, so just search ‘toilet roll flowers’ and pick whatever takes your fancy!
  5. Toilet rolls can also be turned into toilet roll butterflies to complement your flowers. They’d look great on a garden fence or old pallet.
A bunting making event in a tent with eco written on the bunting outside

6. If you’ve got tissue paper to hand, it’s much easier than you might think to create fun and colourful paper pompoms. Here’s how to make paper pompoms.

7. Another fun craft is paper pinwheels, which look great and double up as fidget spinners! You can use any sort of paper you have in the recycling – we think these would look great made from old magazines!

8. If you also happen to have spare seeds lying around, why not make some seed stars to give away at your event? They’re easy to do and a really simple way to spread some joy in your community.

9. With spare large cardboard boxes, you can create some easy games to play at your event. Cut out Os and Xs and pop some blu-tack on to create a giant version of tic-tac-toe that’s sure to be a hit!

10. Finally, if you’ve got some old cereal or parcel delivery boxes in your recycling, you can make some quick and easy cardboard bunting. Simply cut out a template triangle and trace it onto your cardboard, then punch holes in the top corners to string together. You can decorate the triangles however you want (brightly coloured paint, felt tip pens). It will work best as indoor bunting as the triangles won’t do well in rain!

Find bunting templates 

Glass decorations

Glass decorations can add a bit of class to any event, and unlike many paper decorations, there’s minimal crafting involved! 

11. Use glass jars (think old jam jars, perfume bottles, empty bottles of wine, gin or whisky) as flower or fairy light holders for your tables. Some bottles are beautiful as they are, just rinsed and scrubbed clean, while with others you can try glueing twine around for extra effect.

12. Old Gu pots or similar ramekins can become tea light holders (just check tea-lights are allowed at your venue and assess the risk – sometimes battery operated are safer!).

13. Bigger glass jars look brilliant sitting next to each other on shelves – they can be used to store all sorts of things from cakes and biscuits to pens and pompoms.

Fabric decorations 

Old sheets can become a variety of different decorations, while scraps of smaller fabric can be transformed into bunting. 

14. Hang up old sheets to create some easy but effective wall hangings for your event. For a classy effect, you can drape fairy lights over the top, or get your community involved in decorating them. One idea is to create trees or flowers from everyone’s handprints.

15. You can also use old sheets as a tablecloth if you cut and rehem them. Again, you could keep it simple, or bring along some fabric pens and ask your guests to help you customise it. Read our guide on how to customise a tablecloth.

16. Any fabric scraps you have lying around can be made into bunting to reuse again and again! It’s not as hard as you might think – here’s how to make bunting.  

Tin can decorations

Soak your leftover tin cans in hot soapy water to remove the label – then who knows what they can become! The insides of tins can be sharp, so be careful doing these crafts with children.  

17. If your event is likely to go into the evening, you can make some lovely tin can lanterns by carefully punching holes in the sides of tins and popping tea lights inside. We’d also recommend adding citronella for those muggy summer evenings to keep insects at bay!

18. Tin cans can make excellent planters for herbs and flowers, which can really help to spruce up your event! Punch some holes in the bottom for drainage, then layer with some gravel and potting compost. You can paint them with bright colours for extra effect! We love the ones in this guide to make tin can planters.

19. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can even turn old tin cans into owls to hang around your event! They look brilliant – here’s how to make tin can owls.  

Other upcycling decorations 

We’ve covered the main sorts of recycling you might have at home, but here’s a few extra ideas for things you might have hanging around the house! 

20. Paint old CDs in bright colours and hang them around your venue (if you leave the shiny side unpainted, they also work as an excellent deterrent for birds nibbling on your home-grown veg!).

21. You can repurpose paint tins into ice buckets if you’d like to serve drinks cold at your event – just make sure to give them a proper scrub first!

22. Cartons for orange juice or non-dairy milk can be used as planters and work especially well if you’re planning to give any plants away at your event. Cut the carton in half to the height you desire and punch some holes in the bottom for drainage.

Painted rocks to look like insects on a bench

23. A fun activity with pebbles is to paint them in bright colours and dot them around – we love these ones that look like insects above!

24. You can also paint up old cartons and make them into a recycled giant Jenga game! They won’t be as smooth or flat as Jenga tiles, but we think that just adds to the fun…

25. If you’ve got an old pallet lying around (or know where to find one), they can make great signs for your event. Paint your welcome or important details across the slats in bright colours, then display it somewhere prominent for your guests.  

Share your ideas with us

If you’ve got any bright ideas for brilliant recycled crafts, please share them with us on social media! You can find us at @edencommunities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.