An UpCircle guide to: low waste decorations

  • 7 min read

We LOVE Christmas here at UpCircle! The food, the (sustainable) gifting, the laughter, the arguments with our siblings about who gets the last glass of mulled cider - it is truly a magical time! The icing on the cake is decorating the house to make it look like a winter wonderland. Unfortunately, lots of decorations are made from plastic and soon end up in landfill, so we decided to combine our love of Christmas with our love of stopping waste ending up in landfill to bring you the ultimate guide to low waste decorations!


Salt dough is super quick and simple and great rainy-day activity to do with children or friends! You can make all sorts of beautiful decorations- they make for great presents too!  




  • 250g/ 8.8 Oz Plain flour
  • 125g/ 4.4 Oz Table salt
  • 125ml water





  • Preheat the oven to 100°C/ 210F
  • In a mixing bowl combine the salt and flour and stir
  • Slowly add in the water bit by bit- mixing it each time until it forms a ball of dough
  • Transfer onto a floured surface and knead the dough for a few minutes
  • Roll out the dough and cut into your desired shapes- the thinner the dough the quicker it cooks
  • We used biscuit cutters to create different shapes. So that we could hang them up once painted we used a large needle to punch holes through the dough, make the holes slightly larger than needed as in the oven they will shrink.
  • Transfer your creations on to a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for around 2 hours or until hardened
  • Once cool you can paint them to your hearts content! Poster paints work the best but water colours and food colouring will also work. If you are feeling super adventurous you could try adding food colouring to the dough before cutting them into shapes.
  • You can then use them to decorate your tree, hang up around the house and as stand-alone decorations!


A wreath on your door is the perfect way to welcome loved ones over the Christmas period. This wreath is super simple to make and uses found materials which means it will always be unique! You can make it as simple or elaborate as you like.

The wreath in this example was made by collecting materials on a winter walk and some bits from the garden- Christmas tree sellers often have left over branches that are great for making the wreath with. If you didn’t have access to collect materials you could try making one with some of the other decorations from this blog like salt dough decorations and orange peel shapes-




  • 3-4 sticks- they need to be soft and still easy to bend into a circle. The length will depend on how big you want your wreath to be! If you can’t get hold of these, you can make the hoop using wire around 0.3cm in diameter- you can keep this and re-use it year after year!
  • Foliage- Evergreens make the best foliage and will stay green for a few weeks, for a more autumnal look fallen leaves would also work just make sure they have long stems
  • A piece of ribbon or string 30cm long- we reused some that came with a present last year
  • The stalks of fallen leaves- Sycamore leaves are excellent and readily available (string also works) 
  • Pinecones /berries/ dried oranges or any decorations that take your fancy






  • The trick to making a good wreath is to have a solid base with lots of places to entwine the foliage and decorations. Start by using one stick to make a circle the size you want your wreath- tie this where the two ends meet using your ribbon or string. You may need to wrap the ribbon around each individual end a few times to make sure they stay together. This will also be what you use to hang your wreath on the door so make sure there is a length of ribbon left over for this.
  • Take another stick and wrap it around the first one- starting about ¼ of the way around the circle. Repeat this step with the other sticks until you have a woven base- it should look like it has been plaited.
  • Start adding in the foliage, weave the stems of the foliage into the base to make sure they stay in place. You can use the leaf stems or pieces of string to tie in any bits that are loose.
  • Once you have as much foliage in as you want you can start to add in your other decorations- these can be woven or tied in- this is your chance to be creative and fun so go wild!
  • When you are happy with your wreath use a drawing pin or small nail to hang it on to the door.


Paper decorations are super easy and quick to make and in the spirit of upcycling using old newspapers and magazines can be a fun way to add some interesting patterns and colour to your decorations! If you have a subscription to Who Gives a Crap you can save the wraps from your rolls to make them too.


Newspaper chains



  • Paper
  • Glue/ double sided tape
  • Scissors



  • Cut your newspaper or magazine into strips 1.5cm wide and 10cm long
  • Take a strip and stick the two ends together to make a ring
  • Take another strip and link it through the first ring before sticking the two ends together, repeat this step each time adding a new link to the last ring you put on until your chain is your desired length.

Newspaper rosettes

These are the easiest decorations to make and can be hung in groups for some cute decorations. To add some sparkle and glitz to them you can paint the newspaper beforehand or add some (biodegradable) craft glitter. 





  • 2 squares of newspaper per rosette (3 if you want to make them fuller)
  • Glue / double sided tape
  • String/ ribbon




  • Take your squares and fold them up as if you were making a fan until you have two long strips of folded paper.
  • Fold your strips of paper in half along one of the sides and stick together using your glue/tape. You will now have 2 semi-circle fans.
  • Next you need to stick the 2 fans together along their flat edges making a complete circle.
  • The final step is to make a small hole on one of pleats to thread some string or ribbon through!


If like us, you’ve been eating your foods for healthy skin you might have a few orange and lemon peels lying around the house! Save these and make them into cute little garlands!



  • The peel from several citrus fruits
  • Star cutter
  • String or thread
  • A needle with an eye big enough for your thread or string to fit through




  • Remove the peel from your chosen fruit- try to keep it in large sections!
  • Using a small star shaped biscuit cutter, cut out stars from the peel
  • Using the threaded needle pierce a point of each star and thread together.
  • The garland can be left to dry naturally or you can use the oven on its lowest setting for 1 hour. (Check your string or thread isn't flammable first!) 
  • You can hang the garlands up around mirrors or photo frames or anywhere that could use a little colour and festive cheer


Gingerbread is a staple at Christmas and no gingerbread is as delicious as the Pepparkakor. They are thin, a little crunchy and full of flavour! The biscuits take about 5 minutes to cook and the dough can be kept in the fridge for up to a week so you can make the dough up in batches and have fresh biscuits every day! To make them extra luxurious try substituting a tablespoon of water for a tablespoon of Henny & Joe’s Chai Syrup.



  • 250g/ 9oz dairy free butter equivalent
  • 180g/ 6.5oz sugar
  • 40g/ 1.5 oz Golden syrup
  • 60g/2.25oz Vegan Molasses
  • 500g/ 17.5oz plain flour
  • 1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger (We like to add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger too to give them a real kick!)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ Tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 75mls water




  • In a saucepan heat the sugar, molasses, golden syrup and water until all the sugar is melted and then leave to cool for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile combine the DF butter and all the spices in a bowl and blend well
  • Pour the sugar mix into the bowl with the DF butter mix before leaving it all to cool to room temperature.
  • Combine the flour and bicarbonate of soda and sift into the mixture- mix well.
  • The mixture will be loose at this point so needs to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours. It can be put in a bowl to be refrigerated or wrapped in re-useable food wraps.
  • Once they’re finished refrigerating pre-heat your over to 190°C and line a baking tray
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll it out to 2mm thick.
  • Cut the dough out into any shapes that you want and place on the baking tray
  • Cook the biscuits for 5 minutes until they start to feel hard around the edges. Once removed from the oven immediately pierce a hole in them if you are making them into hanging decorations.
  • You can decorate them with food paint or edible glitter to make them sparkle on your tree.
  • The final and most important step is to enjoy them!