8 Re-Purposed DIY Gifts

I am secretly crafty. I spend my days and nights coaching and writing about how to change your life but every now and then, I press pause on all of that (and my household chores too)… for a play date with myself. I spread out on the living room floor, pull up the Netflix instant view menu, and settle in. Those weekends restore my sanity, feed my inner artist, and produce lots of marvelous treasures that I can give as gifts during the holidays.

During a recent trip to the Goodwill, I couldn’t help but notice this tired, old decoration and wonder if it might have another chance at life. It was grimy to say the least, complete with lots of hot glue from whatever no-longer-festive-faux-greenery used to be attached. It all cleaned up quite nicely and the simplicity of this thin gold and cream ribbon seemed like the perfect touch. I call these Re-purposed Peace.

My mom recently disconnected her wireless Internet and I found myself trying to make room in our wires box for two more extra cables. I can’t bring myself to throw anything like this away and we already have several in the box, so I wondered if I could do something crafty with them. The red wire is from a spool that I picked up at the Goodwill some time ago and the beads are from a necklace that nobody here wants to wear anymore.

On a recent trip into the woods, my son found what looked like the axle from a child’s wagon. The two tires were still attached and when he played so hard that one broke off, he said that maybe I could do something with it so we could keep it out of the landfill. The rope is a brand new mop head that I found for $.99 (Goodwill again) and dismantled to reuse. The beads, again, were from an old necklace.

Another Goodwill refurb here. This is one of those card or picture display pieces. It had a topper that was bent and the paint was chipped. I can’t imagine that anyone was going to stumble upon it and think, “Wow, I’ve been looking for a tired, broken down place to hang pictures of my grandchildren!” So… I made peace with it. And it looks simply amazing with our holiday cards on it but since our loved ones probably didn’t anticipate international exposure for their young children, I removed them for this shot.

This one is simple but lovely. Again, I found this tray at a thrift store for $.99 and the left-over purple yarn (from a beautiful scarf that my wife made me last year) came together perfectly.

Yes, that’s guitar string. I’ve done this with my wife’s old cello strings and now with guitar strings. They don’t wear out fast enough to keep me in good supply, so I’m trying to make friends with new sources (which can’t be too hard… this is Nashville, after all). I’ve made them large and small. The interior might be rope or wire with beads from something that nobody wants to wear anymore. I love them, as does everyone I’ve ever given them to!

These are three of the many ornaments I made from parts of an old chandelier that my wife’s mother sent me so that I could make something lovely. She knows me so well. They look absolutely brilliant on a tree but also in the window, where they can throw rainbows around the room!

This is one of the many, many bookmarks I’ve made in the last three years. I find rope or ribbon, second hand now (It wasn’t that way in the beginning but when we know better, we do better.), and combine it with beads that others have discarded, and my favorite treasures of all… RUSTY METAL!

I find these, much like other people find pennies, when I’m out and about in the world. They remind me about how hard we are on this planet, keeping me awake to the realities of the way we live. I bring them home and make magic with them–bookmarks like this and ornaments too–and then give them away, to encourage other people to remember to tread lightly.

It seems like every time I give one of these gifts, or post a picture online to show my friends, someone says, “Oh, I wish I was creative like you.” I’m not, or at least I never thought I was before. I always wanted to make things like this but when I tried, I didn’t care for what came of it. I would take it back apart, put everything away, and go back to my regular life.

When I started trying to find ways to keep some of this stuff out of the landfill, the results were suddenly… different.

I love these things because they aren’t just pretty or useful or cool. They have meaning. I make them in the spirit of love, and it’s as if the love gets woven right in, then the people around me love them too. I think it’s a special kind of magic that comes from service to the earth, to others, and to myself (honoring my creative self). That magic belongs to all of us… even you.


Mary T.
Mary T4 years ago

thank you...love all the peace symbols - should try to make my own :)

Bob P.


Kiana Siino
Kiana S6 years ago

Haha I love that you're secretly crafty! I love re-purposing things instead of throwing them away. I once made a corset out of duct tape and sweet wrappers :) I especially like your guitar string decoration. How pretty! And what a great (especially for a musician).

Natasha L.
Natasha L6 years ago


Miss May
Ashley Piechocki6 years ago

Time to raid our rusty metal junk drawer! I love these crafts. Especially the first one with the repurposed peace horn! I guess you could hang these things up on the wall, or a door. Or you could take a bunch of the rusty metal objects and hang them on a coat hanger and make a mobile. I love doing craft stuff too!

Krista R.
Krista R6 years ago

Oops, I meant the bookmark isn't too bad.

Krista R.
Krista R6 years ago

Hmmm, the bookmark too bad.

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M6 years ago


Anne F.
Anne F6 years ago

Marvellous ideas - I think we should make many many peace signs from all sorts of discards and present them to the Men In Charge.

Catherine B.
Cath B6 years ago

Just had a lovely Christmas Day. No children this year - just 3 adults. The food was there and we helped ourselves when we wanted to do so. Couldnt be better as we didnt have to be on anyone else's time schedule. Truly relaxing eating from our favourite table (our laps) sitting on the verandah in the cool breeze enjoying a view we never tire of. Should have thought of it years ago.