upcycled gift containers

holiday masterpiece

This holiday season, I am making an effort to produce the least amount of waste possible, in particular with gift bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, etc. During the crazy-busy holiday season, being kind to the environment often falls down low on our radar. I mean, it is so easy to pop into the store and buy a brand new gift bag and reams of tissue paper. I cringe to think of the trash bags filled with crumpled up wrapping paper I’ve thrown away in the past. It seems so unnecessarily wasteful!

Then I started thinking about the concept of upcycling {which is defined on Wikipedia as “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.”} It is even better than recycling because it is giving old products or materials new life! This seems like the perfect way to approach gift-wrapping this holiday season.

When I finished the last of my oatmeal a few mornings ago, I knew just what I wanted to do with the empty container:

oatmeal container

Upcycle it!

I wiped out the inside, wrapped it in some pretty paper, added a shiny red bow, and hooray — a lovely homemade gift container!

wrapped container

I filled it with a batch of homemade chocolate-covered popcorn and it made the perfect gift for a coworker of mine who has been especially helpful to me this semester.

I also have plans in the works to re-use metal tea canisters when making homemade chai tea latte mix for some of my friends. {Look for the recipe in an upcoming post!}

What are some of your favorite upcycling and environmentally friendly gift-wrapping ideas?

Hope your week is going great!
-Dallas

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

I read in a magazine recently that popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables! Adding to that, one cup of popcorn {the healthy, air-popped variety, that is} has less than 50 calories! Hello, my new favorite snack. I also love popcorn because it is so versatile – you can add seasonings to make it salty, cheesy, spicy, or sweet.

Or … kick it up a step further and add some chocolate to the mix! {I know, I know, this definitely crashes-and-burns the whole “under 50 calories” thing … but the way I see it, chocolate-covered popcorn is pretty healthy on the dessert scale!} I made mine with dark chocolate to take advantage of even more antioxidant power.

chocolate popcorn

Before making this dish, I had never even attempted to melt chocolate before. I do not have a double-broiler so I just used my microwave. I was worried it would be difficult or time-consuming, but it was incredibly easy. I am already looking forward to livening up my next movie night in with Mike by whipping up another batch of this addicting treat!

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

– 1 package popcorn of choice {I like to use a healthy, whole-grain version with no added butter or salt}
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tsp butter
– salt, cinnamon, or other spices to taste

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Dump into a big bowl and pick out any unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.

2. Melt chocolate and butter over a double-burner or in a microwave-safe bowl. {Melting times vary based on the power of your microwave, but I’d recommend using a series of shorter time increments and stirring more often so as not to burn the chocolate by cooking too long!}

3. Pour melted chocolate onto the popcorn.

popcorn

4. Using a spoon {or your hands!} mix popcorn and chocolate together, breaking apart any large clumps of chocolate, until the popcorn is evenly coated.

chocolate covered popcorn

5. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

I gifted a batch of this popcorn to a coworker using a homemade “upcycled” gift container. I’ll share more about making homemade gift containers in my post tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂

upcycled gift containers

Have a wonderful day!

Till soon,
Dallas