Tag Archives: upcycling

Guest post: How to Make Your Party Environmentally Friendly

How to Make Your Party Environmentally Friendly

pouring champagne

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/blur-celebration-dark-dinner-1852926/ – FREE IMAGE

Over the last few years I have made more of an effort to be more environmentally-conscious. In my younger days, I was a little flippant and just assumed that someone would come along and solve climate change within my lifetime. However, as I have grown older and wiser, I have realised that we all need to work collectively to ensure that we leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.

After clearing up after an early summer party this year with a prosecco-induced headache, I realised just how many disposable items I was using. I realised that I needed to make a change and to use more eco-friendly products to do my own little bit for Mother Nature.

Throwing a party that is less wasteful and eco-friendlier is super-easy, so here are my top tips to get you on your way!


Source: https://pixabay.com/en/smartphone-mobile-phone-app-icon-569515/ – FREE IMAGE

Ditch The Paper & Go Digital

Now that we are well and truly in the digital age, it is time to ditch the paper invites and go virtual. Most of my friends are on Facebook, so creating a Facebook event is a great way of inviting all my besties and keeping them all updated if there are any changes. Remember that while most people are on Facebook, there are likely to be one or two who don’t have accounts. Make sure that you make a note of all those people who don’t have an account, and send them a quick text or WhatsApp to let them know!

If you need something a little posher for those more formal occasions, then there are online personal invitation services, such as Greenvelope, which are a great way of keeping it formal while cutting down on waste. If you really need to send actual physical paper invitations, then go for fully recycled paper to cut down on the amount of paper ending up in landfills.


Source: https://pixabay.com/en/jams-food-fruit-sweet-healthy-76547/ FREE IMAGE

Go Local

Apart from the drinks, this is one of the most important parts of your party! If you are only going to be serving nibbles, then make sure that you aren’t serving anything too messy, and encourage your guests to eat with their fingers while they mingle. When you are looking at sourcing the food, rather than going to the supermarket, make a point of a visiting the local farm shop to buy local produce. The hubby and I recently ventured outside of Brighton and discovered a delightful farm shop, in which we found some delightful artisan cheeses and organic vegetables, which provided us with the basis for our nibbles and they went down a treat with our guests!

alfresco dining

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/barbecue-grill-cook-eat-food-meat-2267968/ FREE IMAGE

Keep It Sustainable

When you have many guests it can be tempting to go for disposable plates and cutlery to make cleaning super-quick and easy. If you want to be super eco-friendly then the greenest way to do this is to stick with your regular dishes and glasses – also, does anyone really enjoy those flimsy paper plates!? If you are worried about miss-matched crockery, then keep your eyes peeled in your local charity shops as people often donate matching sets of wonderful crockery which you can get for a fraction of the price and save ‘for best’. I would also recommend investing in some beautiful cloth napkins to cut down on paper waste.

If you are looking for furniture, then you should be on the look-out for British made, long-lasting chairs and tables. The shipping process is kinder on the environment due to goods being transported a shorter distance over land. Also, by choosing folding chairs you can easily store them easily in the shed for use, after use.

glass botlle candle holders

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/wine-bottle-candle-holder-candle-1615854/ – FREE IMAGE

Get Upcycling

Something that I have learnt over the years is that dinner parties can be extravagant but they don’t necessarily need to be wasteful. You also don’t need to go out and spend loads on decorations or ornaments, upcycling is the perfect alternative – and it’s a lot of fun too!

I have found that there are so many fab uses for your old wine bottles! My favourite one is to carefully remove the bottom and place them over tealights for when the evening begins to draw in – it creates beautiful lighting. Painted jam jars work equally as well, with no glass cutting required.

Guest post by Nathalie Martin – blogger at http://www.helpimgettingmarried.com



A Christmas branch

I love making natural Christmas decorations. so on a Winter woodland walk I grabbed myself a large dead branch from the ground. Ideal for the project I had in mind. Although note to self for future reference, try and do this near the end of the walk rather than the beginning. It was rather cumbersome to carry several miles especially through gates, and I did get it snagged on barbed wire a couple of times.

I had received some silver glitter spray paint free to review from Rust-oleum and this was what I was going to use to jazz up my branch.

Rust-oleum glitter spray paint

Luckily the weather was dry enough and not windy for me to be able to spray the branch outside, as I’m sure if I had attempted it inside, that I would have ended up with paint flecks on everything nearby. I removed the remaining leaves first.

A Christmas branch

I’ve never used spray paint before but I found it is very simple to use. No brushes needed. However I was anticipating it to give quite a deep silver colour. Instead I found it was almost translucent. Looks very nice still, but doesn’t show too well in the photos. Perhaps I should have given it an extra coat.

A Christmas branch

It dried to the touch very quickly and the instructions indicated that it would be hard dry in 24hrs, so I left it in the garage overnight. Then I stood my branch in a plant pot and filled it with small pebbles, to ensure the branch was stable. And finally I hung Christmas baubles on my branch.

A Christmas Branch

I was very pleased with the finished result and it was very quick and easy to do. Next project is to make a Christmas display with the pine cones that I painted last Easter.

The silver glitter spray paint comes in a 400ml aerosol can. It also comes in gold. It is available from Homebase, currently retailing at £9.49. Also available at B&Q and other stores. A nice product but don’t rely on it looking as bright as the image on the can.

So I’d love to hear what craft projects you are making for Christmas?

Family Fever

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. 

A golden Easter display

I recently received two free products from Rust-oleum to review. I’ve already blogged about using their dry wipe paint to upcycle an old pinboard into a whiteboard and now I’m going to tell you what I did with their metallic gold paint.

Rust-oleum metallic gold paint

This was a product that I had originally expected to receive last year, although in spray format. And I had collected some pine cones last autumn ready to use in making Christmas decorations. So instead I decided to still paint the pine cones gold and use them in an Easter display for now. Then nearer Christmas time, I will convert them into decorations as originally planned.

Easter pine cone display

This was a lot simpler to use than the dry wipe paint, as I just needed to give it a quick stir after opening the tin to blend it, and then I was ready to start. I used a small brush but even so, a pine cone is quite fiddly to paint and would probably have looked a lot better with a spray paint. Perhaps I should have kept an old lamp that I recently gave away. With a new shade, it would have looked very nice painted gold.

Pine cones painted with Rust-oleum gold paint

Pine cone painted with Rust-oleum gold paint

It recommended leaving it 30 – 60 minutes to dry, but I actually left them overnight.

Painting pine cones with Rust-oleum gold paint

The gold paint comes in a 250 ml can and is certified Toy-safe so you can use it to decorate children’s toys and furniture. It is available from Homebase, currently retailing at £7.99. It also comes in silver. Good value and suitable for lots of projects. I do recommend this product.

So I’d love to hear what projects you would use this type of paint for? How about picture frames, dishes or vases.

Family Fever

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. 

Upcycling project – creating our own whiteboard

I have received two free products from Rust-oleum to review, the first of which is their dry wipe paint. You’ll have to watch out for another blog post to hear about the other product.

Rust-oleum dry wipe paint

Initially before the product arrived, I had a big plan. I intended to convert son1’s wardrobe doors into a large whiteboard area that he could write on. He has always been a bit naughty about writing and drawing on walls, even fairly recently when he is old enough to know better. So I thought this would give him an area to express his creativity without getting into trouble.

Rust-oleum dry wipe paint

However once the product arrived, I decided to downsize the plan, as when I opened the box, I found it contained two tins – a smaller tin A and a larger tin B. Reading the instructions, I was uncertain of the proportions to use of each. It talked about pouring B into A, but how much? B was bigger than A, so certainly wouldn’t all fit in tin A. It also said to apply within 10 minutes of mixing and to recoat after 2 hours. I concluded it would be best to mix some of A and B in a separate paint tray and hope that I got the proportions okay.

I therefore decided to downsize the plan to instead upcycle a small pinboard into a whiteboard. Luckily I hadn’t described the project to son1, so he won’t know there has been a change of plan. This meant there would be plenty of paint leftover to try again if my proportions were wrong. I also missed out the step to apply a primer first, since I hadn’t been sent a primer. The original email had mentioned a magnetic primer, but when I opened the package, I found this hadn’t been included. That could have added another fun element to the project, a magnetic whiteboard, as the boys love magnets.

It also recommended that for part A, the activator, you should wear protective gloves and eye protection. I don’t have any safety glasses, but I did pop a pair of disposable gloves on, before I opened the tin. I then poured some of part A into my paint tray, followed by some of part B. I mixed them together for the recommended 2 minutes before applying a first coat to the pinboard. I then washed away any spare paint from the tray and roller, ready to start again in a couple of hours time, at which point I repeated the process for the second coat.

Making a whiteboard with Rust-oleum dry wipe paint

The next thing is to allow the dry wipe surface to cure for 5 days at 20 deg C or to allow more time in cooler temperatures. I decided to wait a week in that case.

Fast forward one week and I presented the whiteboard to son1 along with a washable marker pen. I waited with bated breath whilst he wrote his first message, then I tried to rub it off initially with a piece of dry kitchen roll. This did leave a slight blue smudge, so I tried again with a wet cloth. Result, it cleaned off perfectly, ready to use again. My worry about whether I had got the proportions right was over. I was very pleased and so was son1. He is loving his new whiteboard and he can still use it as a pinboard too. A step up from his old toddler magic drawing board which he had never let me get rid of.

Making a whiteboard with Rust-oleum dry wipe paint

Making a whiteboard with Rust-oleum dry wipe paint

The RRP for Rust-oleum dry wipe paint is £34.99 and it is available from B&Q, Homebase and other leading stockists. More information is on the Rust-oleum website. The product comprises 200 ml of the activator and 800 ml of the white gloss. I’ve no idea if this is good value or not as it is such a niche product. It is obviously a lot more expensive than just purchasing a litre of gloss paint. But I do recommend this product although I would prefer it to be made clear on the instructions as to optimum proportions of part A and B. And also whether it was necessary for me to dispose of spare activated paint after coat 1, or did I misinterpret that and needlessly wasted some of the product? I don’t know.

I also noticed the tag line on the box said Trusted Quality since 1921 and that Rust-oleum products are manufactured very near to where my grandparents used to live. My grandad was a painter and decorator, so I wonder if Rust-oleum might have been his brand of choice?

So I’d love to hear what projects you would use this type of paint for?

Family Fever

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. 

From bouncy castle or deckchair to a new bag!

wyatt & jack are a company who create sustainable bags and accessories from re-purposed beach deckchair canvas and retired bouncy castle vinyl pvc. What a fabulous eco upcycling idea. Take a look at their website, they have a great range of products and they have sent me a free mini pouch to review.

recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch
It was carefully packaged in tissue paper, sealed with stickers rather than sellotape. Easy to peel off, so that the wrapping could be saved for a future crafting project with the kids. Another eco plus mark. And it even came with a stick of rock, which I found hidden inside when I unzipped the pouch. What a nice touch and in theme with its seaside history.

recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch
I could immediately see that my mini pouch had been fashioned from deckchair canvas rather than bouncy castle vinyl. And it is of a size (22cm x 13cm) whereby the pouch could have so many different uses, for instance make-up bag or kids wash bag. And I loved the little story on the label.

recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch

However the use has already been decided for this particular mini pouch. Son2 wanted it as soon as he saw it. So it is now a pencil case for son2.
recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch

The mini pouch has now been replaced this season by the new slightly larger Starsky Clutch which looks just as fab. I love how each of these items is unique. No two are ever quite the same. And their tagline is great, that they are all made in Britain by the sea! Also if you live near Bembridge, there is the opportunity to have a bespoke item made by booking an appointment at their shop.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway an Anton Everything Purse to five lucky winners. This is an exclusive promotional item which is not currently available via their online shop, but to give you an idea of how much it can hold, I have been told that it is fairly similar in size to the Starsky Clutch. And since each item is unique, it will be a surprise as to what colour and design you might win.

Plus the rafflecopter option to subscribe to the wyatt & jack newsletter also gives you the opportunity to get a free product, because for a limited time only, wyatt & jack are offering a free Starsky Clutch (current price £22.95) when you sign up to their newsletter. I don’t know how long the offer is open, so be quick!

anton everything purse

The anton everything purse

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear of any repurposed items you either own or have seen.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.


I love the idea of upcycling however I am not very skilled at DIY. So when I saw the upcycling competition being run by Claireabellemakes in association with Able Skills, I initially was stumped as to what to blog about. Claire has made a Metallic Desk Tidy which visually reminded me of the Desk Tidy I made as a child for my dad out of loo roll tubes. He used it for years. None of my current craft projects are upcycled, although the boys sometimes make models from old junk. I have kept some tiles, with the idea of using them in a mosaic, but that is unstarted.

junk modelling

Then I had a great idea to show you photos of the extra shelves in my wardrobe and cupboard. I use these for shoe storage and cd’s respectively. Please excuse the mess in the cupboard. It is in the boxroom and is where I hide anything I don’t know where else to put. The shelves are home-made from pieces of chipboard I think. I admit I didn’t make them myself. They were already in the house when we moved in.

shoe storage

cd storage

But I am on the lookout for something old and unloved that I can upcycle into a planter for my garden. Maybe an old bath perhaps. I was very taken by the idea of using old boats as flowerbeds that I saw in the summer and blogged about here. In our garden at our previous home, we used old railway sleepers to edge the flower beds.

Flowerbeds in Boats

Whilst on holiday in Norfolk, I came across a trend of using old boats as flowerbeds. I was quite taken with this idea. An attractive way of upcycling boats that were no longer sea-worthy. I didn’t get photos of many as mostly they were seen on roundabouts from the car, but here are a couple. The canoe was on the road we were staying at and the sailing boat was outside a nearby caravan site.

upcycled canoe

upcycled sailing boat

When I was a child, there was a sailing boat hidden under a tarpaulin for years in our back garden. My dad had used to sail it many years ago, but I don’t recall it ever being used whilst I was growing up. Eventually it got scrapped due to mice having eaten it. But wouldn’t it have been nice to upcycle into a flowerbed?

There must be a thing for me about boats and flowers. I’ve always admired the roof-top gardens of the barges when strolling alongside canals.

I’d love to hear what unusual items you’ve seen upcycled into flowerbeds or planters?

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