Tinsel Tuesday: Recycled Christmas crafts made with soda cans and milk cartons

I’m talking trash today! 🙂 I have two Christmas crafts for you, and both DIY Christmas Tree Cones are made with supplies you might regularly toss in the trash – soda cans and milk cartons. Thank you to designers Debi Schmitz and Kathleen George for sharing with us ways to decorate for Christmas that involve recycling. Plus, there’s nothing trashy about these tabletop trees — both would look pretty in your Christmas display.

DIY recycled Christmas trees

Note: Both of these projects involve sharp edges and cutting tools, so if you’re crafting with kids, please be mindful of this!

DIY recycled soda can Christmas tree

To make a Soda Can Christmas Tree, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: 12” cone or other size of your choice
  • Soda cans, 12 – 18, washed and dried
  • Pedestal base (Debi used a small, metal bucket)
  • Flat head pins, 7/8”
  • Ribbon, green sparkle, ½” x 18”
  • Thick white craft glue
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Tools needed: Scissors; circle punch for thick materials, 1-1/2” (Debbie used a Fiskars punch ); permanent marker or sharp pencil; ruler; nail polish remover; optional: thimble; lightweight gloves*

*Please note: The cut edges can be very sharp! We recommend wearing lightweight gloves while you work with the soda cans.

To make a Soda Can Christmas Tree:

1. Carefully cut off both ends of the cans, and then cut from the top edge to the bottom edge. Flatten into a sheet. Save at least 5 tabs from the top of the can for Step 9.

DIY recycled soda can Christmas tree

Cut off tops & bottoms from clean, dry soda cans. Then, make a cut from the top to the bottom of the can.

2. Using the punch, punch out 10 circles from each can. Flatten out each circle with your hands to keep them from rolling up. Decide how you’d like to use your circles — Debi displayed hers with the silver side out; you could also add the circles with the print side out, or alternate between the silver side and the print side.

DIY recycled soda can Christmas tree

Decide if you’d like to display your circles with the silver side or print side showing; or, try a mix of both.

3. With the ruler and permanent marker or sharp pencil, draw a line around the cone ¾” up from the bottom. Draw another line around the cone, ¾” up from the first line. Continue to add lines around the cone, each one spaced ¾” from the line below it.

4. Spread a thin layer of craft glue around the bottom ¾” edge of the cone. Insert a pin into a soda can circle, about 1/8” from the top edge. Pin the circle to the cone along the scored line. The bottom of the circle will extend about ½” beyond the cone. Continue to add the circles till the first row is filled in, overlapping each circle with the previous circle. You may find it easier to work on the cone if you place it on a pedestal, such as an overturned mug.

DIY recycled soda can Christmas tree cone

Pin on the first row so the circles hang about 1/2″ below the bottom of the cone.

5. Using the next line as a guide, add another row of circles, offsetting them with the row below. Continue to add rows of soda can circles till you are 2” from the top. (Hint: The closer you get to the top, the more the circles might flare out. Try tightly wrapping a rubber band around the flared rows, and letting the tree sit for several hours. This will help shape the soda can circles to fit more snugly around the cone.)

DIY recycled soda can Christmas craft

Offset each new row with the row below.

DIY recycled soda can Christmas craft

You’ll place a square piece over the top.

6. Cut a 3” square from a flattened soda can. Cut out a 1” circle from the center (save the 1” circle). Cut slits along each edge of the square, stopping just short of the center circle. Center the square on the top of the cone, and fold down edges. Pin edges in place, overlapping to cover the cone. Glue the 1” circle to the top of the cone.

7. Add several more rows of soda can circles till you reach the top.

8. Glue the cone to the pedestal base.

9. Slide the 5 pop tabs onto the ribbon, spaced apart evenly. Glue ribbon around the base.

10. Clean any craft glue off the circles with a cotton ball and nail polish remover.

DIY recycled soda can Christmas craft

If you reversed several circles, they would look like ornaments. 

DIY milk carton Christmas cone

Can you believe this Christmas Tree is made with milk cartons?

 To make a Fringed, Milk Carton Christmas Tree, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: 12” cone (or other size of your choice)
  • Cardboard milk cartons, clean and dry
  • Christmas ornament pick or a small ornament
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Tools needed: Scissors; heavy-duty scissors; ruler; pencil; needle tool or awl; straight pins; Xacto™ knife; knippers

To make a Fringed, Milk Carton Christmas Tree:

1. Cut tops and bottoms from the milk cartons with the Xacto knife. Cut apart the carton vertically along one long edge so that the carton will lay flat.

2. Using the ruler and Exacto knife, trim the cut edges so they’re straight and square. Cut the carton into 2-1/2” wide strips.

3. Cut ¼” wide fringe along one edge of each strip, leaving about 3/8” uncut along the top edge. You may find that you need heavy-duty scissors or knippers to cut the fringe.

4. Pierce small holes about ½” apart all along the top edge using a needle tool or awl. This will help make pinning easier.

5. Slightly curl the fringe by rolling the strip over a pencil.

DIY recycled Milk Carton Christmas Tree

Kathleen chose to add her strips with the white side facing out. You could also change it up and show the print side of the milk cartons.

6. Beginning at the bottom of the cone of STYROFOAM Brand Foam, pin a strip of fringe all around the cone. Continue pinning fringed strips around the cone, slightly overlapping each layer with the layer below. If there is a gap where the ends don’t meet, cut a small length from another strip to fill in the gap.

7. Carefully remove an ornament from the floral pick and glue to the top the cone.

8. Optional: Decorate the base with leaves and ornaments from the picks.

Kathleen made her tree with the solid white facing out. You could also have the patterned side face out for a more colorful version. Or, try using playing cards like Patty Schaffer did with her Playing Card Topiary. This fun topiary would be perfect as a Game Night centerpiece!

DIY recycled Christmas crafts

Here’s another idea — Patty Schaffer used playing cards to DIY this Fringed Topiary Cone. It would make a fun centerpiece for game night!

I have one more idea for you for a recycled Christmas craft, and that’s Kathleen George’s Soda Can Christmas Wreath. Amazing, isn’t it?

DIY Soda Can Christmas Wreath

I love this “trash to treasure” idea for Christmas. Do you?

DIY recycled Christmas crafts

Happy crafting!


This entry was posted in Christmas Crafts, Christmas Topiaries, Craft Tutorial, Home Decor, Recycle Crafts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Tinsel Tuesday: Recycled Christmas crafts made with soda cans and milk cartons

  1. I loved these so much…I re-blogged them today! Happy Christmas Crafting!

  2. What beautiful Christmas crafts! I always enjoy making crafts out of nothing. These are so lovely! Thank you for sharing, Sharon!

  3. tis the season! I’m working on Christmas stuff too!

  4. LisaM6 says:

    What shiny trees. The pop cans really add a pop (lol) to it!!!!

    • Sharon says:

      LOL! Can’t you see adding ornaments made with red Coke cans? Or maybe green ones with a Sprite can, etc? So many ideas for this one . . . Thanks for stopping in Lisa, and craft on! Sharon

  5. Whoda thunk? These are so cool! Now I have to tell hubby to buy a couple six packs of soda so I can make a soda can tree or three! I will be rescuing the gallon milk jug from the recycle bin when it is empty too!
    Thanks for the great tutorials and awesome inspiration!

    • Sharon says:

      And many thanks to Debi and Kathleen who shared these ideas with us! Just be careful with those sharp edges, Barb . . . Happy recycle crafting! Sharon

  6. Katiria says:

    Genius! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 🙂 🙂

    • Sharon says:

      So glad you like these trees! It’s fun to transform trash into something pretty. BTW, did you know that STYROFOAM Brand Foam is recyclable? And made in the USA? I should have mentioned that, too! Thank you, and happy crafting! Sharon

      • Katiria says:

        I didn’t know it was recyclable! Then again, I have usually recycled previous projects and turned them into new things. I try to repurpose when ever I can because it saves money.:)

      • Sharon says:

        🙂 I do a lot of that, too. Saves money, saves resources, and less goes into the landfill! Craft on, Katiria!

  7. annehaun says:

    I think I need to make myself a Diet Coke wreath! So cute.

    • Sharon says:

      I think you need to make one, too! 🙂 If you do make a Diet Coke Wreath, I hope you’ll share a photo — I’d love to see it! Happy crafting! Sharon

  8. What great Christmas crafts =always fun to recycle something into something else.

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