Last week we celebrated the start of the new year and, despite having to go back to work, we’re able to use the rest of the week for some self-care recuperation from the holiday season. Now it’s a new week and a new year, so it’s time to finish packing away all those holiday decorations and transition from ‘Christmas music everywhere’ season to ‘everything is cold and wet’ season.
While hoping the dreary winter passes quickly, we’ve brainstormed a few ideas to help keep the cheer alive for the next few months. In addition to lighting up your winter, these ideas aim to reduce your waste level in the new year with some DIY repurposing of your holiday celebration remnants.
What to Do with That Pine Tree
Leaving the Christmas tree up into the new year keeps that seasonal cheer alive a little bit longer. That’s especially helpful when there are at least two months of winter left to get through.
If you have a real Christmas tree and haven’t gotten around to taking it down yet—or have it sitting in the garage—you might want to consider saving those needles. Though they’re sticky and annoying to clean up throughout December, the needles can brighten up your home for the next few months to combat the dreary weather outside.
Start by collecting the needles off the tree’s branches. Do this outside if possible, to avoid more needles to clean up off the floor. After the collection process, simply add a thin layer of needles to indoor or outdoor potted plants and planters to brighten up your home. This added greenery will help liven up your environment during those overcast winter days.
For When You Went Overboard with the Cookies
Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition that often ends up with a total excess of sweets. Though you’ve already eaten all of these by now or gifted some to neighbors and co-workers, you may open your fridge to find unused cookie dough.
As overzealous as you were with the dozens of treats made, somehow there’s still a mound of dough left. Kaitlyn’s* family combines all this leftover cookie dough every year and freezes it for use throughout the rest of winter.
This way you can enjoy delicious cookies to cheer you up during winter or bake some for upcoming family/friend gatherings. Think of it as a great treat for cheat days or those just because occasions.
Leftover Food You Can Use
That holiday ham or Xmas turkey has most definitely gone bad, but if it’s still taking up space in your fridge you can find a purpose for the bones. A healthy and economical way to use these leftovers is preparing some bone broth soup. This is just a recipe for the basic broth, but you can add in meat or vegetables as desired.
Ham or Turkey Bone(s)
3 quarts water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon thyme
½ tablespoon rosemary
1 cup chives, chopped
½ cup parsley
- Add the water and skinless bone(s) to a large pot. You may have to adjust the amount of water based on the amount of bones you have.
- Bring to a boil on the stove and add the apple cider vinegar. Leave to boil for a few minutes and then reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Skim off and discard the froth that rises to the top of the pot.
- Add all of the ingredients except for parsley to the pot and bring to a boil. Use salt and pepper as needed for taste.
- Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 to 5 hours.
- Add parsley to the pot ~15 minutes before removing from the stove.
- Strain the stock through a mesh strainer and let cool.
This recipe can be enjoyed as a drinking broth or, if you added extra ingredients before simmering, it can be enjoyed as soup. Bone broth is one of the healthiest meals there is, so there’s no guilt in enjoying this wintertime pick-me-up. The broth can be stored for about a week in the fridge or in the freezer for a few months.
Don’t Waste Wrapping Paper
Throwing out wrapping paper is one of the most wasteful acts of the holiday season. If you still have that trash bag of wrapping paper scraps, consider doing some DIY crafts with the material.
Making it into a Christmas decoration is probably your best bet—with those expressive Christmas colors it will definitely match. Plus, this way you can immediately store it away, so you can move on from the holiday scene while still being environmentally friendly.
You can probably make a number of items with leftover wrapping paper, but we’re going to go simple and do a wreath. I’m assuming this will turn into quite a colorful wreath since it’s coming from various leftover wrapping paper styles.
- First find your base. This can be as simple as a paper plate with the center cutout or more elaborate with an o-shaped piece of wood or foam material. You can wrap a ribbon around the base for hanging.
- Start by rolling a piece of wrapping paper into a slender cone shape and taping it together.
- Put glue on the end of the wrapping paper cone, covering an area equal to the width of one of your fingers. Glue it onto the base.
- Glue some cones in the middle of the base and others to the inner edge to give the wreath layers.
Make sure to store it carefully, so the wreath lasts until next Christmas without any significant bending or squishing.
Efficient DIY Repurposing
Strive to reduce your waste in the new year, the Earth will thank you. Use these recommendations to recycle that ‘trash’ and turn it into ‘gold’.
It will help brighten up the gloomy winter days ahead, so that you can enjoy this time of year instead of continually wishing for spring. Christmas trees, holiday cookies, warm broth, and wrapping paper—what will you reuse this winter?
*Designer at HMS Mfg. Co. for the Stola brand
Written and Published by Jessica – Writer at HMS Mfg. Co. for the Stola™ brand
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