New flat, new furniture, and new responsibilities equal new bills, which inevitably lead to no cash. As a student on a budget, I’m always scouring for bargain deals and sale items. Unfortunately, going abroad for a year has led me to a new low… It seems like even bargains in the UK are weighty on my wallet. So, being the determined girl that I am, I thought I would pair my love of decorating with my love of the environment. With this in mind, I was on the lookout for a whole new item: trash (or more appropriately, recyclables)! I found some empty 2-litre water bottles and an old Ryan Air magazine lying around my room. With that (and an indispensible glue stick) I got to brainstorming. What could I make that would look awesome and require only paper and plastic? Finally, after a yummy lunch break and a bit of chatter with the flat mates, I had come up with the perfect dorm décor decision. Appropriate for Valentine’s Day, or any day really, these ideas are fun, simple, and chic. Oh yeah, and light on the wallet (and the environment)!
**Valentine’s Day/Dorm Decorating Projects**
1. Bottle Bouquet: It’s always hard coming up with a great gift for your partner on Valentine’s Day without giving up an arm or leg. Jewelry is expensive, roses are cliché, and chocolate just isn’t enough. Without breaking the bank (or anyone’s heart) here’s a gorgeous gift idea for your sweetie. (Note: this can also double as a sweet dorm piece!) You will need a magazine, a 2-litre water/soda bottle, and a sturdy glue stick. This is so easy to make and turns out quite lovely – but beware, you won’t want to stop creating once you get started. Alrighty then, here’s how you do it:
Rip out some colorful pages from your magazine. You can choose to have a theme with your flowers (e.g., all blue and yellow) or you can pick fun patterns and designs and work with that. You will need about 5 sheets of magazine paper per flower and each flower will range from 4 to 5 inches. So keep this in mind if you’re creating a bouquet that will end up in a vase. Once you’ve picked out your pages, choose one and lay it out on a cleared off, flat surface. This will require some folding…
Fold your paper so that it is in the shape of a square. This idea comes from a Japanese origami tradition called Kusudama. Once you have your square magazine sheets, check out this blog for some great instructions! Once you’re done building the flower portion of the décor, it’s time to make the vase and assemble the stems.
For the stems, take 2-3 sheets of magazine paper and roll them thinly (long-ways). Then glue the end so that you are left with a long cigarette shape. Fringe the top of the rolled paper and glue it around the cone shaped bottom of the flower petals. Ta-da! A flower. Do that to at least 3 or 4 flowers (you can also vary the sizes for a more interesting bouquet). Then take your 2-litre bottle and carefully using a sharp item cut away the neck of the bottle. Make sure you have removed the label from the bottle too. Now take about 8-10 sheets of magazine paper and rip them (long-ways) into thin strips. Allow the strips to curve and twist, and drop them into the bottle. This will give the bouquet depth and color. Finally, add the flowers into the bottle!
And you’re done – place this near a windowsill where the light will hit it nicely and enjoy your newest handiwork! You can also forego the bottle and tie a ribbon around the stems. This would be a cute gift for that special someone on Valentine’s!
2. Recycled Earring Holder: As always, I move in to my room with a resolution to be organized and somehow always end up welcoming the “messy me” back in after a couple of weeks. Well, I have finally had enough. This week, I spent 20 minutes scavenging through my jewelry case for the right pair of earrings. That’s right, TWENTY MINUTES! Ridiculous. So I decided (since I had extra 2-litre plastic bottles and a bit of time) that I would reorganize.
You will need a 2-litre bottle (clear), a neat magazine, a thumbtack, scissors and a glue stick. Remove the label from the bottle. Cut your bottle in half. Now pick out images that you like from the magazine (make them big enough to cover the height of the bottle but not the whole thing (cutting strips could make for a cool effect). The bottle stands neck down, so keep that in mind. Apply glue to the inside of the bottle and the front side of the first magazine image you want to use. By front side, I mean the side you want to see. Place the glued side of the image somewhere on the inside of the bottle (both glued portions will meet). Now press down to secure your picture. There will be creases and folds, just press down and allow the paper to curve with the bottle. Continue this step with the rest of the images. When you have finished, take the thumbtack and CAREFULLY punch small holes into the bottle. Place your earrings in the holes (make sure you have a back for each earring). Place your new item neck down and make sure it is stable enough to stand on its own. If it isn’t, redistribute the weight of the earrings to balance it out. Voila – a chic and stylish earring holder. If this isn’t incentive enough to stay organized, then I don’t know what is!
Candice Allouch is a junior at American University but abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland during the spring semester where she loves to try out new and intriguing tastes, from gastropubs to traditional restaurants (where Haggis is a must).