Helen Milan Essentials that Transform into Holiday Decor
By Nina Wolf
The holidays can be a wasteful time of year, with ribbons, packaging, tinsel, and cardboard advent calendars going in the trash on December 26th.
At best, decorations end up in storage, unused and taking up space for 11 months out of the year. Instead of single-use items that can only be used once (and in addition to a few special, made-to-last decorations), we like the idea of multi-purpose wares from around the house that effortlessly be turned into holiday decor. Come December, glitz up a few practical objects from around the house—a canvas wall organizer, plain wooden clothespins, even dryer balls— to create minimalist holiday decorations that can be customized year after year.
Once the holidays are through, the objects transform back into their usual selves around the house—no extra storage needed. Need ideas? Here are some Helen Milan goodies that can be used to deck the halls.
Wool Dryer Balls → Felted Ornaments
Take cues from Julia Watkins of Simply Living Well and upgrade pure wool dryer balls, which look a bit like soft round snowballs, into wintery orb ornaments. You can needle-felt designs onto each ball using wool roving (it’s easier than it sounds; see Julia’s how-to here) and hang them from the tree; once the season’s over, they can be returned to use as dryer balls, designs and all. (Consider year-round-friendly botanical designs or abstract patterns for that reason.) If you want a reversible option, stitch the surface of the balls with embroidery thread instead. They’d also make a lovely gift, packaged in a box and wrapped.
Old-Fashioned Wood Clothespins → Festive Ornaments
Remember making clothespin people as a child? Consider this a waste-free upgrade. Transform plain wooden clothespins from the laundry room into bundled-up revelers to hang from the tree by wrapping scraps of cloth jauntily around each one. Dress them in monotone outfits, fancily tied ribbon scarves, long dresses, or extra thick wool coats. To hang, tie or stitch a loop of ribbon or twine near the head. Of course, you could also make your decorations permanent by painting on faces and gluing on a ribbon, though this version means you can simply undress your clothespins and return them to duty when you take down the tree.
Stainless Steel Clips → Holiday Card Display
Getting holiday cards in the mail is one of the old-fashioned charms of the season—though the tradition can quickly become wasteful if all that paper goes right to the trash. A set of sturdy stainless-steel clips—normally put to use in the kitchen or home office—displays pretty holiday cards with just a bit of a tinsel touch. Pinch them onto a length of ribbon hung vertically on the wall—and feel free to add a sprig of holly or two, too.
Rush Trivet → Asymmetrical Wreath
One of our favorite minimalist trivets, made in Japan, already looks quite a bit like a rustic wreath, complete with hanging loop. If you can spare one in the kitchen, gently tuck a few found stems of evergreen or berries into one corner of the trivet, taking care not to wedge in anything too thick. (A few sprigs of herbs, like rosemary or sage, are a slimmer option.) Add a bow, if you want, and hang.