Thoughtful Thursdays: DIY Green Holiday Decorations

Published November 29, 2012

From the mesmerizing experience of watching "Polar Express" in 4D to staff celebrations and special holiday enrichment activities for the animals, the holiday season is always an exciting time for us at National Aquarium.

Part of that excitement includes decorating! As part of our conservation mission, we are always on the look out for ways to use recycled and eco-friendly materials to create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations!

We've included the steps for some of our DIY favorites below:

Recycled Magazine Holiday Tree 


  • Old magazines
  • Glue (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)


  1. Fold the page of the magazine down to create a triangular crease
  2. Fold the triangle down again and then fold the tip of that page up so that it's even with the bottom of the magazine
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until every page of the magazine is folded in
  4. If desired, use glue and glitter to decorate your magazine trees!

Paper Bows


  • Recycled paper (printer paper and old magazine/newspaper works best)
  • Double-sided tape
  • Stapler
  • Directions: 

    1. Cut your paper into eight approximately one-inch wide strips (leaving one to the side)
    2. Loop the top half of the strip and secure to the middle of the strip with tape, loop the bottom half of the strip so to complete the "figure eight" shape
    3. Repeat step two for the remainder your strips
    4. Arrange the "figure eights" into a bow shape and secure together with a stapler.
    5. Loop the final strip (set aside earlier) and tape it in the center of the bow to cover the staple

    3D Paper Snowflake 


    • Recycled paper cut into six squares (again printer paper and old magazine/newspaper work best)
    • Scissors
    • Tape
    • Stapler
    • Old ribbon or string (optional, for hanging)
      • Directions: 

        1. Gather your six square sheets of paper and fold each diagonally into a triangle
        2. Cut three lines in the triangle by positioning the scissors along the bottom fold, these cuts should be parallel to the top edges of the triangle and should leave some distance in the middle of the triangle (do not cut the paper all the way through)
        3. Once you've cut lines into each piece of paper, unfold them so that one of the points of the square faces you
        4. Roll the first two innermost paper lines together to form a tube. Place these two pieces together. You should see triangle shapes on either side of the role
        5. Turn the diamond over, take the next two paper lines and pull them together on the opposite side of the tube and tape together as before. This will be a more rounded shape than the first tube.
        6. Completing that pattern, join all the paper lines together on alternating sides until every "arm" of the snowflake has been completed
        7. Staple together the tops of three of the completed snowflake "arms"
        8. Staple the other three tops together
        9. Join the two halves of the snowflake by stapling together the tops of the snowflake
        10. Staple together where the "arms" of the snowflake meet each other, ensuring that the snowflake shape will stay in place
        11. If desired, loop a piece of ribbon or string through one of the snowflake "arms" and hang your snowflakes on doors, banners or windows!

        Want to learn some other exciting eco-friendly holiday crafts? Join us for our holiday events, including our World Holiday Traditions celebration next Friday, December 7. We'll be using recycled holiday cards to make notes to send to service members! 

        Do you have a favorite eco-friendly holiday craft or decoration? Share them with us in the comments! 

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