Upcycled: Tree Ornaments


As someone who drinks a lot of tea and likes candles in general I always had a problem with tea lights. They come in these little aluminium tins and after it’s burnt down you usually throw them away. Aluminium is recyclable but not without problems and it’s not very energy-efficient, either. So what to do with those things? I switched to sharing a shipment of aluminium-free tea lights with my mother and using glass holders, but I still had half a package of conservative lights left and needed something to do with the tins other than to throw them out – it just didn’t agree with me.

‘Tis the season, and that means a tree for most of us. While my Midwinter might not be Christmas I love the symbolism of the fir tree – deeply rooted in ancient traditions of middle and northern Europe. I’m not a fan of chopping trees most of the time, though and the rest of environmentally unfriendly things that come along with the commerce that surrounds midwinter festivities, which ever they might be. Here is something you can do to counteract at least part of it.


What you need:

  • empty tea light aluminium tins
  • scissors (preferably ones you don’t mind getting dull so much)
  • something to poke a hole with
  • something to flatten the tins with (I used a folder)
  • thread
  • rag
  • something to poke things on (so you don’t ruin your working space)


Cut into your tins, down to the bottom. Make a cut every ½ cm, that’s about 14-16 cuts for the usual tea light. Fold the cut parts outwards.


Flatten the tin with your tool. Fingernails work, too, but something like a folder or the back of a knife work better.


Polish the tin. After rubbing it with your flattening tool the wax should be thin and warm enough to simply be rubbed off. If not you can heat the tin – in hot water or on the heating – and then try again.


Poke a hole into your tin star and thread it. Done!


There we have it, cheap upcycled tree decoration. I’m pretty happy with mine and even have some left to tie to presents.

Additional ideas:

  • add glitter
  • cut actual points (Verdinium’s idea!)
  • and then layer the stars (also Verdinium’s)
  • poke a pattern into the tin
  • spray paint the stars

Any thoughts?

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