10 Ways To Make Your Holiday Season Greener

Natural elements found in your own back yard are great ways to decorate for the holidays without spending a ton of money, while also reducing your carbon footprint.When I think about the holidays, the first things that come to mind is beautifully lit Christmas trees, celebrating with family and friends, and how all of it can be terribly wasteful when one doesn’t think mindfully about their impact. Because my wife and I live a relatively minimalist and sustainable lifestyle, we often struggle with how much waste there really is when we leave our bubble.  I get why: thinking critically about where one’s stuff comes from sucks. Unfortunately, this can make the holidays a little more stressful. Examples include well-meaning family who insists that paper plates save time so are better at parties, all the electronics bought as gifts, tons of food waste, and generally people not thinking critically about what they’re buying or doing.  It’s hard to debate every aspect of one’s lifestyle from food, to decor, to clothing. Yet as our environment becomes swiftly faster and more globalized, I find it imperative to continue to be thoughtful and intentional about our lifestyles. The holidays are part of that, whether we like it or not.

Salvage & Stitch: Eco-friendly ways to make your holidays greener!

This is the first year that Amanda and I are living alone and celebrating the holidays together, so they’ve been on my mind a lot. There’s definitely a certain amount of pressure that people don’t talk about when you’re married and you don’t have housemates to decorate one’s house, host family and friends, and invest in things like Christmas tree stands. That said, we’re definitely trying to keep our lives free of too many material things. We’re both very wary of becoming people who store hundreds of boxes of holiday decorations hidden in our future basement or garage, not unlike our parents.

Luckily, all that thinking hasn’t been for nothing! I’ve compiled my top 10 ways of making your holiday season greener, so that you can have a beautiful, Instagram-worthy December, and feel really good about your choices as well. I really believe making sustainable choices can be more beautiful than piling on the gilded wrapping paper and plastic ornaments, and these suggestions will have you feeling the love in no time.

1. Invest In Your Tree

Salvage & Stitch: If you're buying a real tree this year, learn about the many ways you can dispose of it come January in your city. These eco-friendly holiday decorating tips will help you have the most sustainable holiday season ever!

In the past week, I’ve done a lot of Christmas tree research, and it turns out that it’s more sustainable to purchase a live tree over a fake tree during the holiday season (though to be honest, a potted tree that you lovingly tend to is still the most sustainable alternative). The farmed trees are grown on land that has difficulty producing other viable crops, the land is protected through the farm and won’t be developed, the trees provide a habitat for animals throughout the year, and several trees are typically planted for every tree cut. The most sustainable tree farms typically cut from the top of the tree, leaving the rest to grow back, producing several Christmas trees in a tree’s lifetime! Not to mention, the trees suck up CO2 throughout the year, which is great. BUT, not all trees are equal, and there are several ways you can ensure that your tree purchase stays sustainable.

Always buy a tree that’s as local as you can. Do your research and make sure the tree you buy is the best tree you can buy in terms of mileage to ship it. Make sure your tree was grown sustainably by reading up on the farming practices of your local Christmas tree farm before you purchase. Many cities have composting or repurposing programs Christmas trees, see how you responsibly dispose of your tree when you’re done. Some cities turn the trees into multch for parks, others compost them, regardless, look to see what’s in your area before you just chuck your tree in the trash. There are also a ton of cool DIY projects you can make with old Christmas trees. I really liked the idea of turning the pine needles into sachets or natural dye, that might be a post for later!

2. Set The Table With Real Plates and Silverware

Salvage & Stitch: If you plan to throw any holiday parties this year, use real plates and silverware over plastic! These eco-friendly holiday tips will help you have a sustainable holiday season!

Make your guests feel special this holiday season, and serve them dinner on real plates and let them eat with real forks! I don’t even want to think about all the paper and plastic plates I’ve eaten off of in my life, when it’s so easy to just serve food on actual plates. And silverware! If you don’t have enough plates for your party, spend the extra dollar and rent some. As someone who has rented tableware for numerous events, and my own wedding, I’m always surprised by how easy it is. You can even just rent 10 plates, which is pretty awesome. 10 plates would cost you around $5, and those are Bay Area prices. Not only is it a much more sustainable way to serve dinner, it’s an elegant gesture that will go over well with your mom. The best rental companies won’t even make you wash all the dishes, just scrap off the excess food and put them back in the crate. It’s a win-win.

3. Buy Locally Handmade Gifts

Buying local holiday gifts this year can help reduce your carbon footprint! Find out more eco-friendly holiday tips to have a sustainable holiday season at Salvage & Stitch

Is there anything better than supporting a small business? Every year Amanda and I try to buy our gifts from locally owned small businesses run by women. It’s so much fun to go to a craft fair or to a locally focused shop and pick stuff out for family and friends, and we get the added satisfaction that we helped support a real person with real aspirations that aren’t just a bottom line. Plus, we always end up making a few friends along the way, and I’ve never had someone disappointed by the handmade soap, body butter, jewelry, home decor, or accessories I’ve purchased. It’s also really cool for relatives who live out of town to get something special from where you live.

4. Better Yet- Make Gifts Yourself

Make holiday gifts this year instead of buying them! This knitted hat will keep someone very cozy.

Of course, if you’re crafty and have the time, making your gifts is the best way to go, especially if you think intentionally about where the materials are coming from. The hat photographed above I knitted myself from locally sourced and naturally dyed wool from a local yarn shop here in Berkeley called A Verb For Keeping Warm. It took me a while to finish the hat, but I know my friend will really appreciate it. There are so many wonderful projects to try out, it’s almost impossible to run out of ideas. In the past we’ve made everything from flavored cooking oils to mittens made from sweaters. All are fantastic options.

5. Give Experiences and Causes over Things

Wandering the moors in Yorkshire, England.

Every year for Christmas my mom asks for the same thing: a renewal of her membership at the DeYoung Art Museum in San Francisco. She loves art, she loves the museum, and it’s never been a disappointment for her because she gets reduced rates for shows and then she can bring me or a friend as well. While some people might sneer at getting an experience or a cause over a physical gift, others would actually prefer it. The truth is, not everyone wants more stuff, but if you spend the same amount of money on an experience that they’d never think to get themselves or one they’ve been wanting for awhile, it can be really worthwhile. The photo above, for example, was taken of me wandering through the moors of Northern England. Because Amanda and I don’t spend a ton of money on things like televisions, iPads, or designer clothing, we’re often able to travel to really amazing places.

As for causes, I love when people donate to causes in my name- assuming I agree with the cause. It can help here to choose politically neutral causes, like wildlife refugees, humane societies, children’s foundations, hospitals, you get the idea. Definitely don’t try to stir up controversy with this gift. That said if you really know the person and suspect they might enjoy a donation in their name to Planned Parenthood (me, if anyone’s reading this), go for it.

6. Get Creative with Gift Wrapping

This year, try wrapping presents in brown paper bags from the grocery store, with sprigs from the Christmas tree.

Wrapping paper might be one of the most fun things about putting presents under the Christmas tree, but it’s also one of the most wasteful parts of the holidays. Most people in my experience rip their gifts open with glee and then toss the respective paper in the trash. I’ve seen big black plastic bags of paper just thrown away at various holiday events. Because trees make paper, and we currently have a shortage of trees in the world, recycling your wrapping paper is one of the best things you can do with it. Better yet – use recycled materials to wrap your gifts, and then recycle the paper when you’re done. Even better than that is if you can use recycled materials to wrap your gifts, and reuse that wrapping time and time again until it can’t be used anymore. Kids will typically always rip paper, but you can teach them about recycling by getting all the kiddos to gather up the wrapping paper at the end of opening their presents and talking about how we need to save trees.

Gift bags are also a great alternative to traditional wrapping paper. I’ve been using the same brown giftbags that I hand-stamped myself for several years now. My family knows that I’d prefer they give them back to me if they don’t plan on keeping them, and they always do. I mix and match different additional decorations to keep things interesting, and it really never gets boring. A well-thought out wrapping job is a well-delivered package no matter what you use.

7. Choose Natural Decor

Salvage & Stitch: DIY Holiday wreath made from foraged materials, all compostable at the end of the year!

 

You know what you can’t recycle? Petroleum-based holiday decorations. But you can compost natural decor like branches, berries, leaves, and misteltoe. Culinary herbs like rosemary and sage make beautiful holiday decorations in little vases or mason jars, the added benefit being that you can cook with them when you’re ready to take them down! Almost anything from your backyard can be repurposed into stunning natural decorations, like this wreath I made from branches that fell off a tree near my apartment building. Of course, you could argue that you plan to use your plastic decorations for years to come, but those decorations would have to be used for many years to earn back their carbon footprint after production and shipping from China. Natural decor- even the branches you snipped of your Christmas tree to fit them into are elegant, minimalist, and provide a great alternative to synthetic ribbons piled with glitter, in my humble opinion.

8. Turn Off Your Lights

Fairy lights for the holidays.

There is absolutely no reason your Christmas tree or holiday lights need to stay on all night. If no one is enjoying them, turn them off and save energy. It’s much more efficient in the long run, even if your lights are battery operated LED lights, because no matter what makes your lights twinkle, they’re running off of something. I keep mine off during the day, or when I’m not in the room with them, turn them on in the evening to enjoy during dinner, or when I have company over, and then turn them off when I’m going to bed.

9. Eat Less Meat

Eat less meat this holiday season. These yummy roasted brussel sprouts are a great start!

Whether we love it or hate it, no one can deny that it takes a lot of energy and water to raise livestock for food. I’m not suggesting that you can’t eat meat, only hinting that if you want to cut back on your impact, maybe having numerous meat dishes at your family’s holiday feast is unnecessary. It can be just as delicious to have a main dish like lamb or turkey and a bunch of tastey sides. Yes, that might mean giving up anything bacon-wrapped, but with a million vegetarian recipes out there you’re bound to find something that satisfies your pallet. And while you’re at it, make sure that the meat you do buy is local and organic- which will definitely mean less CO2 was released while shipping the meat, and it will be more nutrious overall.

Better yet- go completely meatless! As a not so strict vegetarian who actively does try to eat vegetarian, my favorite recipe blogs for vegetarian food are Cookie + Kate, 101 Cookbooks, and The Simple Veganista. You can’t go wrong with these sites, trust me.

10. Compost Your Food Scraps

Compost your food scraps.

I know, I know, I know, you probably don’t have compost in your city and don’t have the space for your own compost garden. I’ve heard it all before. But if you do, you should be composting. It’s so beneficial to the environment, it provides the city with a free mechanism to get compost for local parks and gardens, it’s super easy, and it doesn’t cost a dime. If you have space, you could also think about setting up your own compost pile. Regardless, holiday parties create a lot of leftover food and it’s way more sustainable to compost that food and the scraps than toss it into a plastic garbage bag and ship it off to the landfill.

Of course, meat isn’t something you can compost. That said, making bone broth from the bones left over from your holiday meal is really easy and a great boost for the rest of cold and flu season!

Anyone have other tips?

Salvage & Stitch: How to celebrate the holidays in style and reduce your carbon foot print! These sustainable holiday tips will have you feeling merry, bright, and greener all around.

I hope you enjoyed these tips for keeping your holidays sustainable! What are other ways to cut back on your waste during the holidays? I’d love to hear more suggestions.

Salvage & Stitch: This holiday season challenge yourself to choose environmentally conscious ways to celebrate! There are tons of ways to have a greener holiday season, whether it's eating less meat, or composting your tree.

DIY Fabric Covered Shoes Tutorial

Fabric covered shoes with ankle-straps.Shoes are an apparel item that most people chuck almost immediately after outgrowing a certain style, which is I’m so excited to share this DIY fabric covered shoe tutorial. I gave these flats a makeover after they’d been sitting around for too long, and I’m super excited about the results!

My style tends to shift toward minimal with a focus on pieces that tell a particular story or draw attention. I love combining prints, layering textiles over each other and materials with plush attributes like velvet or embroidered lace. That’s exactly why these made-over shoes are so perfect, I love the lush florals but also that they’re comfortable flats. They aren’t super trendy, they just are.

 

 

Black lace-up shoes next to cactus                         Floral pointed toe flat shoes.

I originally bought these shoes at a thrift store, attempting to take advantage of the lace-up shoe trend that was so popular a couple years ago. They were originally from Target, but as I figured then, the lace-up shoe trend wasn’t going to happen forever and I wasn’t exactly going to spend a ton of money on it. Then the shoes sat around for awhile as I opted into different trends, and the other day I realized that I kind of hated them. They weren’t very me. I almost tossed them into the “Charity shop/Clothing swap” pile when I realized it would be so easy to change them and probably class them up.

DIY fabric covered flats.

Covering your shoes with fabric is incredibly easy, and takes very few materials. What I love most about it as a concept is that you can take relatively cheap shoes with a good shape and make them look like expensive exciting shoes. I chose to cover my shoes in the scraps of a floral vintage dress that I had upcycled into a jacket a year ago. I loved the fabric so much I kept every last bit of it, so I had plenty to work with. I have to admit, I’ve seen other fabric covered shoe tutorials that I really like and think are fantastic. This older one from Delia Creates is one that I really like and might be helpful for you to check out if you want to cover shoes with sides to them.

DIY fabric-covered shoes.

I also cut most of the strappy parts off, simplifying the shoe quite a bit. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I wasn’t wearing them before, every time I looked down at my feet I felt like I was being turned into a gladiator. Tragically, when I removed the strappy bits, one of the ankle straps decided to fall off completely and I had to sew it back on before I could continue covering the shoes! Luckily the cheap suede that these shoes were originally constructed out of was easy to sew through using my sewing machine and a needle meant for sewing denim. Still! For moments I feared these shoes wouldn’t happen at all. Luckily, patience, glue, and some scissors, I turned them into something cute and the ankle straps still function! 😀

DIY fabric covered ankle-tie shoes

Supplies

  • Shoes: It helps if they’re already fabric, leather or faux suede. If they’re faux leather use sandpaper to grit them up before you continue as it will help the glue stick to the shoes.
  • Fabric glue (I like Aileen’s Tacky Glue)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Craft Paint Brush
  • Fabric Scraps: It helps if it’s relatively thin, opaque, and not stringy material.

Instructions

    1. Prepare your shoes by trimming of parts you don’t like. For me, that meant taking off all the cumbersome straps. If you like your shoes already, you can proceed to step 2. black lace-up flats being cut up
    2. Cut pieces of fabric that are larger than the front of your shoe when you wrap the fabric around the toe.  Fabric being measured around shoes.
    3. Using your brush, spread a thin coat of fabric glue over the entire front of your shoe. It dries quickly so you must work fast! Then place your fabric over the glued area, and smooth it down, making sure all creases and cracks are covered. You might have to reapply the glue to the undersides, this is okay, just glue and smooth. Gluing fabric on shoesCovering shoes with fabric
    4. Trim the excess fabric along the base of the shoe, nice and close to where the upper part reaches the bottom.bottom of shoe with fabric around it       Fabric trimmed around shoe
    5. Here’s the hard part: use your scissors (or a razor blade if your scissors are too big) to push the fabric under need the base of the shoe so that the edge is concealed. If your blade ends up perfectly cutting the edges off and you’re left with a smooth edge, that’s ok too, just add some more glue to make sure it doesn’t fray.
    6. Trim the excess material on the top of the shoe around the opening, leaving about 1 centimeter of fabric. If your shoe has a curved opening like mine, make a cut in the center of the fabric. Glue the excess fabric under the top of the shoe. Make sure to glue excess fabric around the toe as well. covering shoes with material7. Repeat these step on the back of the shoe, making adjustments as necessary based on your shoe design. The back of my shoes have zippers, so I used the natural edges of my dress scraps like the hem for the areas around the zipper to make a clean line. If you’re using new fabric, you can create your own folded “hem” by dabbing a little fabric glue on the fabric, folding it over and pressing it with your fingers or an iron.

Fabric being glued to the back of a shoe.That’s basically it! Now you have fabric covered shoes! If you’re feeling really wild you could even embellish them, but I kept mine simple as I like a more minimal look. Have fun wearing your new kicks!

Floral pointed-toe shoes and sunglasses.

This DIY tutorial will show you how to cover your old shoes in new fabric!

My New Backpack Used To Be An IKEA Slipcover

DIY backpackOnce upon a time, I bought an IKEA slipcover to adorn an IKEA futon that we used as both a couch and a guest bed. We eventually grew tired of our butts turning into rocks everytime we sat on the futon, and having a little money from our wedding we decided to invest in an actual couch (which we got used off Craiglist, but also previously came from IKEA). Being the overly thrifty and eco-conscious people that we are, we saved the slipcover, thinking it would become something else in a matter of time. Then one day, I realized that it would make a great backpack, and thus all my dreams of using the slipcover and getting a new backpack came true.

backpack made from ikea slipcover

This is one of my favorite parts of upcycling: the inspirational moment when you know that this one thing you have is going to become something better, cooler, unique, and special because you’ve tapped into some brilliant understanding that things are not always stuck forever as what they appear to be. It’s a philisophical journey as well as an engineering problem all at once. On a more practical level, it’s just plain awesome that a backpack could be made from a slipcover. The slipcover provided the perfect material for the backpack because it was durable, lightly quilted, and machine washable.  It was your typical BEDDINGE cover, boring, surprisingly unfashionable, and oddly clunky:

IKEA BEDDINGE LOVAS futon cover

The backpack warranted a trip to the fabric store for all the notions I would need, plus some sweet aqua daisy fabric that became the toned down theme for the backpack. I purchased new quilting cotton for the lining and accents because I didn’t have enough material of anything repurposed to line it. I spent quite a long time in the fabric store trying to talk myself out of the aqua daisy print, being a woman in my thirties and not an elementary school student…but then I decided that being a woman in my thirties means I know what I like and aqua and daisies together are bliss.

knapsack made from futon slipcover

inside of backpack with daisy fabric

I didn’t use a pattern, I drafted up plans by looking at a few backpacks I liked online, using those dimensions to create a blueprint of how I might construct the perfect backpack for me. I purchased the webbing and most of the hardware, except for the clasps on the front which I took from an old purse. Backpacks are rather rectangular in construction so it wasn’t difficult to figure out how one would come together, though I did take a lot of notes and really study a few back packs I liked before I came up with a solid plan.

I spread out my materials on a Friday afternoon, cut out my pieces, started sewing them together, became obsessed with the project, couldn’t sleep that night because I wanted to work on my backpack too badly, woke up early on Saturday, continued sewing, and then when Amanda woke up we took my new backpack to the grocery store. It fit all of our groceries and then some! I regret only taking two in-progress pictures, I was so determined, so obsessed, that I couldn’t be bothered with my camera.

backpack being constructed   knap sack under construction

I’m particularly excited about the back pocket, the perfect deep pocket for stowing passports and other important stuff while traveling. I also love the side pockets. Amanda keeps insisting that I use one of them for a water bottle, but I like using them for things like sunglasses, pens, those things you sometimes want handy but don’t want to unzip something for.

backpack with passport pocket

 

 

I had trouble with the front pocket, it turned out differently than I wanted and if I ever make another backpack I’ll probably just keep the front pocket flat. It was probably the most annoying part of the project, aside from sewing the really thick layers together, and it’s not a pocket I end up using that much anyway.

How has it been holding up? Great! I took it all the way to England and Wales last month for a UK adventure. It was the perfect size to fit under an airplane seat, and the secret passport pocket worked really well. It was stuffed full of gifts and treasures on the way back and didn’t budge under pressure. I love it! The only thing that I regret is stuffing so much that when we got into London and got on the Tube, I accidentally bumped a man right in the face. Not a great way to make an impression, for sure.

backpack made from upcycled ikea futon slipcover

 

DIY Soy Candles From Cat Food Cans

Salvage & Stitch: These cute candles were made from leftover cat food cans!
My cat and I love each other probably too much. Heck, she’s sitting next to me as I type this right now. We buy her the best food that money can buy, I snuggle her everyday, play with her relentlessly, and clean her litter box (a.k.a The Poo Palace) every single day. While I’ve been able to make most of Stella’s basic functions sustainable, like by composting her renewable wood cat litter, her canned food practice is so so so wasteful. Even though I recycle the cans, it still feels like 24 cans per month is a lot to go through on the regular. Yes, I could switch her to all dry food, but I like the nutritional benefits of her eating grain-free wet food, and I can’t afford fancy raw food that I see at the pet store. But then, what to do with ALL THOSE CANS???? I decided, to turn a few into candles, and I’m really happy with the results!
Salvage & Stitch: This DIY tutorial will show you how to make soy-candles from leftover cat food cans!
It wasn’t a huge leap to see a cat food can and think, “I could turn that into a candle.” I really truly thought that this would be relatively easy and straightforward project that just about anyone could do, and don’t get me wrong, it is. It’s also probably one of the most involved DIY projects I’ve ever done because not only did I have to purchase most of the supplies to make the candles, I essentially had to earn a new badge in candle making to do the project and write up a tutorial for you. It turns out there is much more to candle making than picking out a container, sticking a wick in it, and pouring in some wax.
The last time I made anything that resembled a candle was in seventh grade. Those candles were kind you make from dipping a wick in wax repeatedly until you have a long candle. My only other candle experience before that was at a birthday party in elementary school where someone’s parents hired a professional candle maker to help us craft candles with real flowers in them for mother’s day. It was not my favorite craft because A) it was super complicated and involved for a birthday party for elementary aged children and I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing B) I didn’t even get to keep my candle, the peer pressure to give it to my mom was too great.
I’ve been seeing candle projects float around the internet for years, typically from upcycled materials, and I’ve definitely pinned my fair share of them. I thought after my minuscule candle-making experiences as a kid that this project wouldn’t be too difficult to get the hang of. But again, it turns out that candle-making is more of a science than an art. Regardless of the complexities, my research paid off because these candles burn beautifully. Before I lit one I was paranoid that they would burn fast like tea lights, making them unenjoyable for multiple uses, but I was wrong. These candles burn well, and after 30 minutes of burning, I only noticed a small dent. I wouldn’t expect hours and hours from them either, but it’s safe to say that they can be enjoyed. Plus, they make great gifts. Who doesn’t like candles?
Here are some things I learned about candle making that you might find useful:
  • You need to purchase the right wax depending on whether you’re making a container candle or a candle in a mold. Molded candles need a harder wax so they can stand upright.
  • The diameter of your container determines the wick size you want to purchase. I know! It turns out that you can’t just stick any old wick into your container, you need to know what your buying or your candle won’t burn evenly. This handy-dandy calculator will take the diameter of your container and the wax you intend to use and spit out the kind of wick that you want to buy.
  • If you’re using standard 4-inch cat food or tuna fish cans for this project like I did, I’ve linked to the wax and wicks that I purchased below so that you don’t have to become a candle making expert.
  • Soy wax is more ecofriendly and softer than other waxes, so I recommend it.
  • CandleScience.com is a great resource for all your candle making projects, I highly recommend browsing their tutorials.
Supplies 
candle making supplies
  • Cat food or tuna fish cans, washed thoroughly and completely dry
  • Soy Wax
  • Wicks
  • Candle making pitcher
  • Hot glue gun
  • Popsicle sticks longer than the width of your cans
  • Clothespins
  • Medium sized pot
  • Access to a cooking range, stove, or hotplate
  • Decorative paper
  • Scissors
  • Wood or Metal utensil for stirring wax that you don’t care about.
  • Paper towels or old rags for cleaning up
  • 1 intact wrapper from the can to use a template for paper covering
Optional Supplies
  • Tweezers (for picking out stay debris before your candle dries)
  • Thermometer (most professional candle making tutorials will suggest having one, I didn’t use one and my candles turned out fine. Just don’t let your wax burn)
  • Essential oils for making your candles smell nice
  • Spray paint (if your cans are a boring metallic color and not gold like mine, you might consider spray painting them gold, rose gold, or silver for a more polished look before you pour your wax in.

Directions

 

  1. Using a hot glue gun, dab some hot glue to the base of each wick bottom and glue them into the center of each can.diy tuna can candle
  2. Place your popcicle stick against the wick, balancing it on each end of the can, and use a clothespin to hold it in place. This is done to keep your wick upright as you need your wick to be straight for the candle to burn properly.holding wick straight in container candle
  3. Fill your medium pot half way with water and place on stove. Turn the heat to med-high. Fill your canister with soy wax and place canister inside pot with water. The wax will start melting relatively quickly. I stirred it with a separate popcicle stick. When your water starts boiling, turn the heat down to med low. You don’t want to burn your wax.

soy wax in double boilermelting soy wax pouring wax into container

  1. When the wax is completely melted, take out of the pot and add your essential oils if you want scented candles. You may want to use more essential oils than you think you need, my candles turned out only lightly scented.  Give the wax a quick stir to distribute the oils.
  2. Pour wax into cans, making sure to end before the inner ridge.
  3. Repeat the wax melting and pouring until all your cans are full of wax. At this point, walk away. Go eat lunch, read a book, take a shower, just don’t watch your candles because it’s a little agonizing.Soy wax candle long wick
  4. When candles are hard and cool, cut the wicks down to size, I left mine about a half an inch.
  5. Using the original wrapper you saved as a template to cut new wrappers from decorative paper for your candles. I used scraps of paper I already had on hand.
  6. To glue the wrappers on, wrap the wrapper around the candle and dab hot glue to the ends of the paper and secure. Don’t glue the entire piece of paper, it’s unnecessary.
  7. You now have beautiful tea lights!

Troubleshooting 

  • If your wax gets a hot enough, it will melt the hot glue holding the wick inside your candle, essentially ruining your candle attempt. If this happens, pour the wax back into the canister and wait a few minutes for the wax to cool. You’ll have to reglue the wick of that candle.
  • If you have pets (and if you’re doing this tutorial you probably do…) stray hairs might fly into your freshly poured candles. You can use tweezers to pull them out before the candle has cooled.
  • Your cans will be very hot when you pour the wax in, and will also be very hot when your candles are lit (just like tea lights). The paper on the outside can help make them easier to pick up, but you prefer to keep your candles bare, use caution when handling.
  • Whatever you do, don’t put your essential oils in the wax while your canister is on the burner. Essential oils go rancid pretty quickly once exposed to extreme heat and their smell will fade.
Make Soy Candles Out of Cat Food Cans! Ever wonder what to do with all those cat food cans? You can make candles easily and inexpensively with soy wax! Give them as gifts, use them to light up your home or office.
Salvage & Stitch: Reuse all those cat food cans by making this beautiful soy candle tutorial! These candles make great gifts too.