Category Archives: party décor (recycle and upcycle)

Firefly Lanterns Powered By Bioluminescence: Made From Glass Juice Bottles and Salvaged Wire

Catching fireflies is the quintessential children’s summer evening activity. Every new generation is captivated by these magical blinking moving lights and instinctively wants to know the source.
Make one today or If you are having a summer party that will continue after dark, make a bunch for your young guests.

How to make a firefly lantern:

Save your empty glass juice bottles. Take off the label and clean it.
Use scrap electrical wire to make the handle for your lantern; you will need a piece about 30 inches long. We had some pieces left over from an addition to our house. You might try calling an electrician in your area; maybe they could give you some scraps that would otherwise just go in the dumpster. How-to make the handle:

1. Start on one side of the lamp (point A), go half way around (point B).
2. At point B, bend the wire up for the handle. After you form the loop for the handle, you should end up on the other side of the bottle (point A; where you started).
3. At point A, bend the wire end around the handle loop to secure it.
4. The wire will continue around the neck of the bottle and attach at point B. Use wire cutters to trim off extra wire.

It is a lot easier done than said.

You will want to cover the top of the bottle to prevent the fireflies from prematurely escaping. You could put holes in the cap and use that. Or trace a large cup on a scrap piece of fabric and cut out with pinking shears if you have them. That circle of fabric is held in place with an elastic band. I have a little stash of elastic bands that came off of vegetables or other packaging. You will find a second use for them in projects like this and many others.

Did you know that there are thousands of different species of fireflies? Fireflies blink to attract a mate but some mimic the blinking pattern of a different species of firefly in order to lure them near so they can eat them. Yikes!

Did you know that Fireflies produce light via a chemical reaction?

Find out more about fireflies at The Firefly Files or National Geographic.

Have any other bright ideas or a clever variation? Send me an e-mail and I will pass on your great ideas.
Are any of the directions unclear? If you have any questions about this project or any other, send me an e-mail. -Jane

Recycled Sweater and/or T-Shirt Pennant Swags

Front view

Back view

Pennant swags strung between poles.

Liven up a birthday party, beach party, or child’s room with these easy to make pennant swags!

How-to: Gather some thin sweaters and/or t-shirts in lively colors. Make yourself a triangle stencil out of an old cereal box or whatever. My triangles were 7 ¼ inches along the top edge and about 8 ¾ inches along the sides. You can make your triangles bigger if you prefer. The easiest way to make all your triangles is to use a rotary cutter. Using one is not necessary but sure is fast. Unlike the rotary cutter, when using scissors, you will need to trace your stencil before cutting. I liked to use the hemmed bottom edge of a shirt as the top edge of the pennants. I think it gives it a little bit more of a finished look to the swags. Work around any stains or worn places. Lay out your shirt flat on a cutting mat. You will be cutting two triangles at a time. After cutting out all the triangles, arrange them in the order you would like. You can be creative here. Next use a sewing machine to make one long running stitch attaching the pennants to the ribbon. Leave room at each end of your ribbon to make a loop or leave enough extra ribbon for trying.When using outside, I tie them to bamboo poles.

Home-made Sweet Bird’s Nest

You will have fun making your own sweet bird’s nest. They are lovely as centerpieces in a garden wedding or for spring decorating. Nests look amazing displayed under a glass cloche. These nests have all the charm of natural bird’s nests so you can leave the real ones for the birds. (There are laws in the US and Canada prohibiting the collecting of eggs and nests.)

They also make a beautiful gift for an expectant mother. They adorn the nursery with a natural reminder of the new life and the comfort and protection she will surround it.

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How-to:
Step 1. Gather some vines. I made these examples from the vines of the fragrant honeysuckle flower but you could try other vines as well. While the vines are still fresh, twist them around your hand; making tight circles then gradually spiraling bigger until you form the desired nest shape and size. Tuck in the ends to prevent unraveling. No glue is needed.

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Step 2. Add a layer of dried grass and/or dried fall leaves. Look on the side of the road in the fall or early spring for different dried grasses. You might want to put a pouch of rice or sand into the center of the nest to weight it down while your nest dries a bit. Keep it there until it holds its shape on its own -usually the next day. This gives the nest its great cozy feel; like a mommy bird has been sitting in it getting it ready for her little ones.

Step 3. Looking for things to decorate your nest is half the fun. Go for a hike.
Adorn your nest with a variety of native and locally grown ornamental plants including dogwood blossoms, hydrangea flowers, grasses, and herbs. In addition, you could add moss, bark, leaves, and feathers. Don’t overlook the tiny dried seedpods of last summer’s flowers.

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You may try lining your nest with downy feathers like in this nest or use a striking feather as an accent.

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Moss looks very natural in a nest. Moss can be found in shady areas which tend to be damp.

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Flowers like the dogwood blossoms on this nest can be dried in silica (a desiccant). There isn’t much to it really. Just place the fresh flowers in a container of silica and then gently pour more on top until the flower is completely covered. Check it after a few days, if it is dry, shake off the excess powder and you are ready to use them on your nest.

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Try adding fresh herbs to make it smell good. Thyme was used in this nest but I also like Sage.

I think these adorable ceramic speckled quail eggs make a nice addition.

I encourage you to make your own but if you would prefer to buy, you can special order the nests for garden weddings or otherwise from Fun In The Making (contact).

Clementine Box Re-used To Grow Lush Green Grass Or Wheat-grass

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Wheat-grass growing in Clementine box.

This re-purposed Clementine box doubles as an attractive green focal point. It looks great around the house: kitchen, dinning room, office – anywhere you want to be reminded of spring. I love it! I like to jump-start spring by growing grass or wheat grass indoors before the grass outside greens up. It is a super easy centerpiece for a spring or summer party; it looks amazing and is so inexpensive. Use as part of an economical eco-friendly garden wedding. You may also want to try growing a living Easter basket.

How-2: Early in the year, ask all your friends to save their Clementine boxes for you. These boxes have quite a few uses so don’t throw them away after you are done growing grass! Preparing the box consists of lining it with a piece of plastic. Any kind you have handy (a scrap of construction waste, the plastic bag that your bag of dirt came in, whatever). Wait until after you put in your growing medium before trimming off the extra plastic. Next if you are using soil, add a half inch more or less of pea gravel or other small stones for drainage. If using Vermiculite, it is not necessary to add rocks for drainage. Just remember not to flood your container. If you add too much, try pouring off excess water.

growing wheat grass

Wheat berries (also called wheat grass) can be found at your local health food store. This is the stuff that some people juice (with a special juicer) and drink for its health properties. Unlike growing rye grass, you must first soak and sprout your wheat berries before planting. To do this, place your wheat berries (less than a cup for each Clementine box) in a clean jar or bowl and cover with plenty of cool water and let sit overnight. You do not need the lid on at this point. Keep your jar out of direct sunlight and at room temperature during the sprouting process. In the morning rinse with cool water, drain off the extra water and put the cover on your mason jar. You should rinse one or two times that day and the next day. The idea is to have the wheat berries sprout a little root while avoiding mold or slime to form on the seeds. I didn’t have any problems with that. You should see roots forming within two days (more or less). Distribute the sprouted wheat berries across the top of the soil or Vermiculite. They should be sitting right on top of your growing medium. Use enough to cover the surface with some overlapping. Wet the soil/ Vermiculite in the box but don’t drown it. To keep my new “seedlings” happy, I put a clear plastic bag over the top to keep the humidity high. After about two days when the wheat grass starts to grow and the roots have gone into the soil/ vermiculite, you should take off the plastic. Place in front of a sunny window. You will need to check on it and mist as needed.

growing rye grass
Growing rye grass is even easier than growing wheat grass because you don’t need to pre-soak the seeds. Just distribute a layer of seeds across the top of the soil. (I use soil not vermiculite when growing rye grass.) The more seeds you use the thicker your “lawn” but don’t go overboard. Next, I sprinkle just a bit of soil on top. Water, cover with plastic, and mist when needed. Take off plastic when the grass starts to grow. Place in a in front of a sunny window and water when needed. So easy the kids can do it.

New Year’s Eve Party Décor

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These numbers were cut out of previously used pie tins. I think they are made of aluminum actually. The silver numbers add a little sparkle to your buffet table or jazz-up your bar. HOW-2: Find a font you like on your word processor and print out the numbers in the size best suited for your display. Then place the printout on the tin and trace; pushing down so you leave an impression in the tin. Then grab a pair of scissors and cut out. Alternatively, I decided to draw the numbers on free hand. Be as creative as you like. I mounted the numbers on salvaged chopsticks using a glue-gun and displayed them in an arrangement of vases.