Upcycle This: 5 Cools Crafts to Do on a Cold Day

Upcycler Extraordinaire Denise CorcoranUpcycler and crafter extraordinaire Denise Corcoran (Thrifty By Design) has a passion for turning ‘junk’ into new and funky pieces. From refinishing furniture to repurposing discarded items like wine corks into jewellery, she believes there is no limit to what a bit of time and know-how can create and save from the landfill. Here Denise shares 5 of her favourite upcycled crafts.

Do you ever look in your recycle bin and think you could make crafty magic happen with your recyclables? I do. All the time!

So many items you find in your recycle bin can be repurposed into fun rainy day projects. From mason jars (which you can find at London Drugs!) to cereal boxes to tin cans… there are simple DIYs that turn used objects into treasure. And the bonus for all of us is that you help keep these objects out of the landfill. Here are a few easy upcycled crafts to get you started!

1. Mason Jar Lanterns

Mason jars are super trendy when it comes to upcycling. One easy project is to refashion the mason jar into a lantern. By decoupaging tissue paper on the outside then adding a tea light in the mason jar, you’ve crafted an easy lantern. You can even step it up a notch by taking a Sharpie and adding a face or design to the decoupage.

Step 1: Grab some mason jars of various sizes and ensure they are clean.

Upcycled mason jars


Step 2: Tear up pieces of tissue paper. Either use one colour or try mixing it up with various colours.

Upcycled crafts


Step 3: Add a coat of Mod Podge or liquid white glue to the mason jar.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars


Step 4: Add pieces of tissue paper to the glued area. Then coat the tissue paper with more Mod Podge to smooth out the paper and seal it.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars


Step 5: Continue step 3 and 4 until the mason jar is completely covered with tissue paper. Allow to dry.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars


Step 6: Insert a regular or LED tea light into the mason jar to create a lantern.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars

2. Cereal Box Organizers

One of my favourite go-to items from my recycle bin is cereal boxes. They’re perfect for DIY stationery, art, gift boxes, or gift tags. They’re also perfect for your office to organize your papers, magazines, or mail. It doesn’t take much to turn an empty box into a swanky organizer for your kitchen or office.

Step 1: You can use any size of cereal box to create your DIY office organizer.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 2: Measure and mark where you want to trim the cereal box.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 3: Use scissors or an X-acto knife to trim the box.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 4: Cover the cereal box in old wrapping paper using a glue stick or Mod Podge.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 5 (optional): Jazz up your organizer with ribbon or funky tape trim to add a bit more pizzazz.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes

Step 6: Upcycle more boxes to create a set of organizers.

3. Wine Cork Stamps

There are some super fun DIYs out there when it comes to upcycling wine corks. You can turn wine corks into a boat, fridge magnets, or even repurpose them into jewelry. So many possibilities! On a cold day why not stay in, make wine cork stamps, then use them to decorate handwritten notes or to create your own stationery. Just be careful when creating your stamps since you’ll need an X-Acto knife.

Step 1: Find wine corks with dense cork to use for your stamps. With a pen, outline your stamp design. Also add a line about a 1/4 inch along the wine cork.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks


Step 2: Cut your design out using an X-Acto knife. Cut into your design and then into the line along the side of the wine cork. This will remove the cork to create your stamp.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks


Step 3: Keep cutting until you’ve fully exposed your design.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks


Step 4: Start stamping! You can use an ink pad or acrylic paint to create your design for DIY cards, gift tags, etc.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks

4. Tin Can Shaker

Depending on the size of the tin cans you have on hand, you can refashion them into a pencil holder, a planter, or maybe even a cute robot. I love turning a boring tin can into a musical instrument. All you need is rice and beans for the inside of the can, and a balloon and duct tape for the top. It’s that easy to take your junk and make some funk. One of my top go-to craft materials is duct tape. You can get patterned duct tape that is an easy way to jazz up your shaker.

Step 1: Grab a tin can from your recycle bin. You can use any size for your DIY shaker.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 2: Fill it with rice, dried beans, or anything else that will be good for making music. You don’t need much — maybe 3-4 tablespoons.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 3: Cut the opening of your balloon. You want to remove this since you’ll be stretching the balloon over the opening of the tin can.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 4: Stretch the balloon over the opening of the tin can. Ensure it’s tight and that the balloon stretches down the tin can.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 5: Cover the tin can with funky duct tape. This ensures the balloon stays in place plus adds some funk to your shaker. Feel free to add other embellishments.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans

5. CD Mosaic Frame

You can take an old CD and make gold with it. CDs can be cute animals, coasters, or even art. You can even upcycle the CD case into a frame for your art! A cool but messy DIY would be to cut up old CDs and create a mosaic. You can dress up an old frame or table using repurposed CDs, adhesive, and craft paint. I use white craft paint to mimic grout around the pieces of CD.

Step 1: Take an old frame or score one from a thrift store that has a flat surface.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 2: Gather your supplies — a pair of scissors, old CDs, and some adhesive.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 3: Cut up your old CDs. This can be a bit messy so be prepared. Cut the CDs into a variety of sizes.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 4: Add glue to the surface of the frame then add your pieces of CD.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 5: Keep adding pieces until the frame is covered.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 6: Cover the frame with white acrylic paint. Allow to dry. Rub or scratch the CD pieces to remove the white paint. Then you’re done.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs

Based in North Vancouver, B.C., Denise Corcoran is the author is Raw Crafts: 40 Projects from Hemp, Jute, Burlap and Cork. Sharing her enthusiasm for crafting and upcycling, Denise facilitates ‘Crafternoons’ throughout Vancouver where participants of all ages and skill levels learn how to make things from unorthodox materials. She was a featured panelist at the Craft Council of BC talk called ‘Craft, The Environment & Our Community’. She was also the inaugural BC Champion for the fourth annual Culture Days, a national, nonprofit 3-day event promoting culture throughout Canada. Denise is also a Creative Expert for the Salvation Army Thrift Store, sharing thrifting tips and simple upcycling DIYs. 

15+ Easy, Cheap and Fun Indoor Activities for Kids

With the cold weather upon us, we know that extended indoor time can be a challenge. So here’s 15 ideas for entertaining the little ones within your four walls.We offer these ideas for entertaining the little ones within your four walls.

Giant Box Art

Have a big cardboard box taking up space in the house? Before you toss it into the recycling bin, take a handful of crayons or markers and drop them inside, add one toddler (or two if you have another on hand) and watch it come to life. We all know toddlers love to write on walls, and these walls are fair game. Older kids can join in the fun too with more elaborate creations on the outside–pirate ship, princess castle, space shuttle, airplane–the possibilities are endless! Speaking of endless, there are loads of fun and simple activities to do with cardboard boxes.


Escape the Volcano

This fantastic game is inspired by The Floor Is Lava, but it’s a little more involved. The planning is worth it, though, because it gets your kids moving and thinking with colour matching, exercise, riddles, and more.


Sponge Finger Painting

If your kids love finger painting but you hate the mess, keep it under control with sponges. Makeup sponges work great for keeping the paint in one place, and clean up is easy if you keep them on a plate or plastic tray.



indoor activities - baking

Baking is a great rainy-day activity for kids of any age. Not only do they get yummy treats at the end, but they learn a little about chemistry and where their food actually comes from. No worries if you’re not an expert baker yourself – try these super-simple recipes from Delish.com that anyone can master. Don’t forget to stock up on baking tools and supplies!


Yes, your little ones can do yoga! There are lots of great DVDs to help your toddlers and kids get started with yoga, but our favourite videos are from Cosmic Kids. In each free YouTube video, likeable host Jamie walks little yogis through a new adventure, including favourites like Moana, Star Wars, Frozen, and other fun stories, while learning the basics of flexibility, balance, strength, and mindfulness. Move the coffee table, grab your mat, and get ready for some fun. Bonus–you can sneak in your own workout right next to the kids!


Indoor Picnic

If grilled cheese and baby carrots are getting a bit boring, inject some fun into lunch and have an indoor picnic! Pack portable containers into a basket, clear some space, put down a blanket or tablecloth, and voilà! For extra fun, add some “outdoor” details like homemade grass, flowers, trees (aka tall potted plants), etc. Don’t forget to invite the stuffed animals! You can also continue the fun into the night with an indoor campout. Especially fun for a sleep over!


Spy Laser Obstacle Course

A ball of yarn or string is all you need for this secret mission. Find a narrow passageway like a hallway or stair case, and wrap the string at different angles back and forth at kid-height (painter’s tape works well too, if you’ve only got walls to deal with). Little kids will have a blast trying to climb through the configuration, and you can take the challenge up a notch for older kids with spy backstories, timed races, secret maps, special treasure missions, or a spy movie shoot. More ideas and instructions at mykidsadventures.com.

Make Your Own Book

If you’ve read the 478th book to your kids, why not get them to make their own books? There are many tutorials online about homemade book projects, but we found a great place to start with this simple one, which is good for beginner crafters, or for a sweet gift for someone. All you’ll need is a few sheets of paper, scissors, and crayons or markers. You could also add magazine cut-outs to practice pre-schooler scissor skills.

Cotton Swab Blow Darts

Don’t be alarmed by the name! This game is as safe as it gets. For this one, you’ll only need some cotton swabs, bowls or small bins (even old yogurt containers would work!), number stickers or tape, and some drinking straws. You’ll foster some healthy competition with everyone in the family with this lively game. Full instructions at thatswhatchesaid.net.

Sticky Spider Web 

Painter’s tape, light, throw-able objects, and a doorway is all you need for this active game. Have fun looking for things around the house that will stick in the web, like balled up newspaper, balloons, small toys, etc, or make it a competition by adding points or a timer.

Masking Tape Race Track

A no-brainer if you’ve got a tub full of toy cars or trains. Make it colourful and fancy with washi tape like the one above, but regular old painter’s tape works well too (and is just as fun on carpet and furniture!). You can keep it contained in the kids’ room, or take it all over the house for an epic race. You can even add a souped-up garage or train station, like this one:

indoor activities - gas station

Want more ideas for fun and learning with just a roll of tape? Check out more ideas at Hands On As We Grow.

Minute to Win It

If you’ve got a house full of kids, Minute to Win It games are a surefire hit. Bring the popular game show into your living room with rip-roaring races like “Junk in the Trunk,” “Cookie Face,” or “Pong Tac Toe.” The entire family, neighbours, cousins and the mail carrier are all going to want to join in this one. More ideas for MTWI games at happinessishomemade.net.

Sewing Station

This indoor activity is perfect for 4-6 year olds to practice fine motor skills. You will need to pick up a few supplies, but it’s a creative and colourful project that your pre-schooler can be proud of. Full instructions at kleas.typepad.com.


I’m Bored Jar 

If you’ve reached your creativity limit, an I’m Bored Jar will be your best friend. Simply put, it’s a container filled with things for kids to do. Some people fill it with fun stuff, others mix in chores kids can help with around the house. You can get creative with the design using tokens, popsicle sticks or laminated cards, if that’s your cup of tea, or you can just write the activities on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Every time you hear a small person in your house utter the phrase “Mooooooom/Daaaaaad, I’m BOOOORED!”, you can bring them the jar and let it do its work. More ideas for jar design and activities at wellnessmama.com.


What’s your favourite activity for beating kids’ cabin fever? Let us know in the comments!