Though many families have already bid farewell to their Christmas tree, holiday decorations, baked goodies (not a moment too soon for the pursuit of that ever elusive slender figure), and Nativity scenes, our household belongs to that variety of Catholic who obstinately refuses to relinquish our Christmas festivities until Candlemas, the traditional end of the Christmas season. Be the tree completely needle-less, be the Christmas cookies completely consumed, be the stores filled with Valentine's Day sweets, we persist in our Christmas celebration.
This was the first Christmas our little family has spent on our own - and as such, we found ourselves in need of Christmas decorations to suit our budget. Our aim for decorating was to make as many of our decorations as possible, using for the most part items we either had around the house or could easily collect. I began my planning and collecting back in November, stashing away these items in the weeks before and during Advent:
Beer and Irish cream bottles
Fallen pine tree bark
Platan seed clusters (they're slightly smaller than a golf ball)
Toilet paper rolls
Used tissue paper
Rags/worn clothing of all sorts
Candles (leftover from our Advent wreath)
Stray ribbon and yarn
Used (but reasonably clean) aluminum foil
Brown construction paper
And what can one assemble with all these miscellaneous items, you may ask?
A beer bottle Nativity scene!
(with a dried fruit, pinecone and popcorn garland and crocheted Star of Bethlehem)
Each figure (the Baby Jesus excepted) is a beer (or Irish cream) bottle, with a platan seed head covered in fabric. I dyed a few rags using coffee grounds and tea bags for the heads, used some spare yarn for hair, and rags and other odds and ends for the clothing.
The cardboard served as a base for the stable, with pinecones and bark used to create a "natural" effect. Here are some close-ups:
I believe a "recycled" Nativity scene just may become a family tradition - especially when our children are old enough to participate in annual Nativity figure "makeovers". I already have plans for next year's additions: some animals, a new and improved stable, and possibly some more majestic clothing for the Three Kings.
Our beer bottle Nativity (barring any unforeseen accidents) will see us through Candlemas, in keeping with the longstanding tradition of displaying the creche until the end of the forty days of Christmas.
However, if your Christmas decorations have already been packed away, do not despair. It's never too early to start your Christmas 2012 recycling! If you've been bitten by the Martha Stewart bug, to increase the variety of your project, and considering the wealth of items that are often simply thrown away in the post-Christmas cleaning, I would recommend starting a little "crafts bin" now: a storage place for all the odds and ends that may come in handy for your own beer bottle Nativity, or other projects to celebrate the liturgical year.