5 Easy Gift Wrap Ideas

Easy Alternative Ways  to Wrap Your Gifts 

Easy Gift Wrap IdeasHere we are down to the wire on the Christmas preparations.  And I bet most of us still  have quite a few gifts to wrap.  If you run out of wrapping paper are you really going to want to run out to the store at this point?  Have you seen any easy alternative gift wrap ideas? What if the idea of all that wrapping paper, that can’t be composted or burned, piling up in your living room is too much to bear?  What can you do?  Lots of things!  If you get my weekly email newsletter you saw many of these suggestions on the list already.  When wrapping gifts I love to think outside the norm.  Let me share some of my ideas with you. They surely aren’t original to me and I am sure you will be able to add your own ideas after you get started with these easy alternative gift wrap ideas.

My List of Gift Wrap Ideas

Books –  Wrap books in something related to the subject of the book.  For example of gift wrap ideas for cookbooks use a pretty new dish towel as the “wrapping paper”.  The cooking section of the newspaper would be a great idea too.  Use twine for the ribbon and tie on a couple of napkin rings for added impact.  If you have children who want to help, let them cut out food pictures from magazines to glue to the newspaper wrappings.  For a sports theme book, use the sports section.  A novel could be wrapped in the book review section.  You get the idea?

Sewing and craft themed gifts –  Use a fat quarter of quilting fabric to wrap up a crafty theme gift.  To take it up a notch, tie on a seamstress tape measure, or a package of pretty buttons.   Maybe you have some older craft magazines around and could sacrifice some pages to use as wrapping paper.  Or skip the wrap altogether and use a storage container or cute tote bag to hold the gift.  Crafters always need more storage. 

gift wrap ideas

Garden Theme Books and Gifts –  Wrap up the gift in a piece of burlap.  Tie on a handmade ornament made from natural items or herbal sprigs.  If you use gardening twine to tie it all up, the whole gift can end up in the garden next spring.

Clothing –  Grab a fashion magazine from the recycle bin and add some fashionable clothing pictures to the plain wrapping paper.  Or decorate an unneeded shoe box to use as a gift box.  The box can later be used to store other items.

General Gift Wrapping – my favorite paper for wrapping gifts is brown paper that comes on a big roll.  I use it all year long.  The paper is completely safe for recycling.  I buy this one and it lasts a long time.  I use it to cover the table for coloring projects with my grandaughter too.  

Easy Gift Wrap Ideas

Wrapping gifts in plain brown paper allows me the freedom to write on the paper, decorate however I want, and customize the gift wrap to suit the gift recipient.  I use different types of twill ribbon, satin ribbon, rick rack, vintage lace, twine, and raffia for the ribbon.  Add on a tree ornament, or something useful, and a pretty tag.  


5 easy gift wrap ideas

Additional articles on the same topic

Urban Overalls – Making Boxes from Recycled Gift Boxes

A Farm Girl in the Making  Using Recycled Paper for Gift Wrap

Joybilee Farm  Using Fat Quarters for Gift Wrap

SchneiderPeeps  Making a Fabric Gift Bag

My Healthy Green Family Furoshiki

Recycled Nest Boxes – DIY Makeover

recycled nest boxes Other items can be recycled nest boxes too. Dresser draws, vegetable bins, wooden crates, and even vintage suitcases. Instead of searching just for standard farm nesting boxes, think outside the box. Here are some criteria I use to make sure an item will make a safe, sturdy nest box for my hensRecycled nest boxes can come from the flea market!  If you spy a good sturdy box or shelf. with some DIY makeover magic it can become a recycled nest box! I make no secret of the fact that I am a flea market addict. The love for picking through the stalls set up with other people’s treasures gets creative thoughts flowing. I am always on the lookout for things we can use around our farm and have found many used dog crates, rabbit hutches and other animal enclosures for just a few dollars each. These have come in handy when animals need to be quarantined or transported. That’s not the time to be looking for a crate!

I also am addicted to farmhouse kitchen tools and decor. I particularly love things from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. So, that is where my mind was when I spotted this little beauty. Ugly? Why yes, I agree. At this point I think it was rather hideous. A light purple paint covered this storage bin/shelf. I imagine it was used to hold a little girl’s toys or stuffed animals. It probably looked quite cute in her room, too. But now it sat here, in a field, at a tractor show and looked forlorn. So I took it home. I had an idea of what I could use it for.

recycled nest boxes

Old Book Shelf Transforms to New Recycled Nest Boxes

First, it needed a good cleaning. It was obvious that this shelf had been sitting in a dusty garage for some time. I let the shelf dry in the sun for a bit while I grabbed the paint.


I knew I wanted it to complement the rustic look of our Chicken coop. Soft colors and earth tones were in my mind. I am drawn to soft yellows and cream colors and as soon as I walked into the hardware store I saw these spray paints by Rust Oleum 280699 American Accents Ultra Cover 2X Spray Paint, Gloss Sun Yellow, 12-Ounce“>Rustoleum, the American Accents collection. I am glad that I chose this paint because it really did only need one coat of paint.

Recycled Nest Boxes

Recycled Nest Boxes

Recycled Nest Boxes

The Cream colored paint went on first. After it dried, it was time for the fun stuff. Have you heard of Frog Tape? It is painters tape but with a better grip for painting. It comes off clean and no paint seeping lines.

recycled nest boxes

How to Use Chevron Frog Tape

I chose the chevron shape of Frog Tape because I want my chickens to have a current decor style!

After the Chevron Frog Tape was put on the bookshelf, I sprayed the shelf top and sides with the yellow paint, leaving the inside of the chicken nest boxes openings the cream color.

After fifteen minutes, the paint was dry enough to remove the tape and see the chevrons! Perfect!

Recycled Nest Boxes

Recycled Nest Boxes

The bookshelf sat for a full 24 hours to allow the paint to completely dry and for the paint fumes to dissipate.


Recycled Nest Boxes

For the final touch I added some scrap book letters to the top board, so the hens would know what this fine piece of furniture was to be used for.

Recycled Nest Boxes

A crowd begins to come in to see what is happening.


Recycled Nest Boxes

I’ll let you know how they like the new nest boxes once I find an egg in there! It being molting season, eggs are scarce right now. Hope this gives the hens a little incentive to get back to the job.

** I placed a cinder block in front of the shelf to keep it from tipping over. I thought about screwing it into the wall but I wanted to be able to remove it easily for cleaning, so I chose to place the block in front to stabilize the shelf.**

Other Types of Recycled Nest Boxes

Other items can be recycled nest boxes too. Dresser draws, vegetable bins, wooden crates, and even vintage suitcases. Instead of searching just for standard farm nesting boxes, think outside the box. Here are some criteria I use to make sure an item will make a safe, sturdy nest box for my hens.

1.Is it heavy weight enough to not tip if the hen stands on the side.

2. Can it be cleaned easily

3. Are there any toxic paints or small parts that could be a hazard.

4. Does it smell musty and gross? I sure don’t need any additional bad smells added to the coop!

recycled nest boxes

Buying an old wooden crate can be a good deal and the crate can be given a quick coating of spray paint to repel mites from living in the old wood. Wire baskets may be a good choice if they can be secured to the wall or somehow prevented from tipping. 

recycled nest boxes

Wicker basket is wired to the back wall to ensure it doesn’t tip over

Use your imagination and think of safety. Then,your next trip to the flea market might find you bringing home a recycled nest box.

Pin this info for later!

Recycled nest boxes Other items can be recycled nest boxes too. Dresser draws, vegetable bins, wooden crates, and even vintage suitcases. Instead of searching just for standard farm nesting boxes, think outside the box. Here are some criteria I use to make sure an item will make a safe, sturdy nest box for my hens

Want to see even more photos of great recycled nest boxes?
Farmhouse 38

We’d love to see your hen house nesting boxes too. Please share with us in the comments.

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Self Sustaining Living -Reusing Chicken Coop Trash


self sustaining livingSelf Sustaining Living on our farm means I try to reduce the amount of waste that the farm sends to the landfill.  It’s not always easy and I try to think creatively in order to reduce the waste. 

Every week our chicken coop residents eat through two fifty pound bags of feed. Every week that is two poly bags that end up in the refuse pile waiting for trash pickup. The longer we farm, the more conscious I am of how much waste we produce.  I doubt I will ever get it down to zero, but if I can continually reduce the amount of stuff that comes from our homestead and goes to a landfill, I will be satisfied that I tried my best.  

Some things we naturally have always used at least twice before it heads to it’s final destiny.  Although newspapers are recyclable, I normally use them again to line the rabbit hutch floor, or the chick brooder in the spring.  Cardboard boxes usually are recycled through the chicken coop as a nest box or hiding spot for smaller chickens.  And then there is the issue of all those poly bags that are now the way chicken feed is sold.   Two bags a week, fifty two weeks per year, 104 feed bags total and that is just from the chicken feed!   

Extra tidbit > there are over 19 billion chickens in the world!  For more fun facts on chickens check this post.  That’s a lot of chickens and waste from chickens!

I see the pile of feed bags accumulate every week on our farm and it bothers me to send them to the landfill.

Coming up with some additional uses was fun and creative. Basically, many of the uses you  have for a purchased vinyl tarp can be replaced by using an empty poly vinyl feedbag. 

self sustaining living

Here are some ways you can reuse empty feed bags and increase your level of Self Sustaining Living

Tote bags and reusable shopping bags – Take these to the grocery store, library, any place that uses those tiny annoying plastic shopping bags that only hold three items. 

Reuse the  empty feed bags as trash bags,  instead of  garbage bags.  We always have an empty feed bag propped up in our feed room.  We use it to collect the tops from the feed bags, and any other trash.  

Use the poly fabric feed sack as you would any wipe clean fabric.  Make place mats, coasters,  stadium seats, covers for patio furniture cushions.

self sustaining living

self sustaining living

Around the farm or barnyard, reuse the feed sacks to line the nest boxes for ease of cleaning.  I also use the bags to cover open windows for storm protection, or to cover the duck house open space at the top during the coldest part of winter.  We do the same with the top parts of the rabbit house too.  The large wire covered “windows” are great for summer ventilation but leave too much space for cold winds during winter.  

Self sustaining living

Using Poly Feed Bags for other Animal Housing.  

In our rabbit hutch with runs we use the feed bags under a few inches of dirt and mulch or bedding.  The poly vinyl bags help protect the wooden floor in the hutch.  In the run, having the old chicken feed  sacks under the dirt, keeps the rabbits from digging out under the fencing. 

I haven’t thought of any ways to reuse the poly vinyl feed sack with any activities for the sheep and goats, but give me some time to think about it!  

At the end of the day, the important thought is that we should be aware of what we use and throw away.  Even if you are being careful about how much you consume and throw away, there is waste.  Thinking about the waste products and coming up with a way to replace another item with something recycled from the poly vinyl feed bags will help keep some trash out of the landfills.  


self sustaining living


Compost, the Ultimate Reusable Product from the Coop

Making sure we are responsibly caring for the coop manure and used bedding is very important.  Not only cleaning the coop out regularly, but turning the waste into dark healthy compost is the healthy way to control the waste.  After a year, the compost added to soil will provide nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil in your garden.  

What products do you reuse from the coop, to help control the amount of waste that heads to our landfills?  Share you experiences with farm style, self sustaining living in the comments.

Self sustaining living

This post first appeared on Backyard Poultry Mag.com

self sustaining living


Needle Felt Easter Eggs – Simple and Quick

needle felt easter eggsNeedle felt Easter eggs are quick and easy additions to your spring decorations. The materials for needle felt Easter eggs are few and the results are quick! Soon you will have a full basket of colorful needle felt Easter eggs to bring out year after year.

Here are the materials you will need

Wool felting needle. These often look like the ones pictured below.  A felting needle is very sharp so take care when handling it. Also, the shaft of a needle felt tool has barbs on the shaft to further pull the wool fiber together into felt. Be cautious and do not handle the lower part of the needle shaft.

needle felt easter eggs

Styrofoam egg (If you avoid Styrofoam, you can use a thicker wool to make an egg shaped core. Then proceed to decorate your 100% wool egg, as follows.  Directions on sculpting with wool can be found in this post.

needle felt easter eggs

Small amounts of dyed wool roving. This is the way it is often packaged for sale. If you have access to your own wool locks or roving, you could make your own naturally dyed roving using the process described here.

needle felt easter eggs

Needle Felt Easter Eggs Procedure 

Take a small piece of wool in the base color you want your needle felt Easter egg to be. Use one color or mix the roving pieces for a variegated effect.

Using the felting needle, stab up and down repeatedly , in a shallow method. Doing this repeatedly begins to lock the wool fiber together tightly, forming a felted covering over the Styrofoam egg. Add more roving as needed to completely cover the surface of the egg. 


Adding Needle Felt Easter Egg Decorations 

After you cover the egg in the base color of fiber, begin to decorate the egg using any design you prefer.

You can easily make vines and leaves by pulling off a small strand of roving.  Twist the fiber into a thinner cord and apply it to the egg using the felting needle. Work in small sections at a time, twist further, and proceed until the vine is how you like it.

needle felt Easter eggs

Using small bits of wool as opposed to larger chunks, will be much easier. You can always add more if the shape isn’t as large as you wanted it to be. Other simple decorations are polka dots, squiggles, stars, petal flowers, carrots, and simple butterflies. Take a look at the butterfly shown in the examples. The butterfly Easter egg was made by a new needle felter, in a class I recently taught. The detail is amazing! It really is that quick to learn this craft! 

needle felt Easter eggs needle felt easter eggs

You can try other methods of needle felting too. Use needle felting to create felt decorative accents on clothing, purses, and wall hangings. Sculptures can be created by needle felting, also. Take a look at a few free form sculptures I have created.

needle felt easter eggs

Free Printable! Instructions for Needle Felt Easter Eggs

Click on the following documents to print the directions for needle felt Easter eggs. Please help me share this post so others can also learn this fun, easy and enjoyable craft. Thank you!

Easter Egg Needle Felting (1)

needle felt Easter eggs

needle felt Easter eggs



needle felt easter eggs


Pin it!

needle felt easter eggs using small bits of dyed wool roving or fiber. A quick craft that lasts for years.


Make a Chicken Dust Bath for the Run

chicken dust bathThe flock missed their chicken dust bath and it was all my fault. As soon as the weather cleared and the chickens could go out to free range, they headed right for their favorite chicken dust bath spot. Apparently, I had forgotten this past fall to bring a chicken dust bath into the run or coop. Our fall was warm and the chickens had plenty of opportunity to dust bath their cares away while they free ranged and I did chores. Recently the weather took a turn and we had snow and ice for a few days. Rather than be ingenious, as they have in the past, the flock just waited. In the past I have seen them claim a corner under the nest boxes or some other out of the way spot, and stir up a personal dust bath. This time they just waited. 

And, then the day arrived. I opened the gate to the run and let them free! At last, they had a chance to get away from each other. To run to the farthest fence line and have some personal space.  Yet, they all headed for the local construction zone next door to their coop. The latest coop being built will have a slight overhanging porch area. For now it is the perfect spot to find dry dusty soil for a chicken dust bath. All 23 chickens from this coop huddled together in the same area, flipping dirt and flapping wings. It was a sight to see. 

A few seconds into the video the barn kitty walked up. Three of the hens went on full alert. Then two returned to bathing, leaving Maggie to keep watch.

What kind of enclosure works for a chicken dust bath?

I realized that I better set up a chicken dust bath  in the run or have the risk of mites,and lice on feathers, feet, and dirty looking chickens. I looked around the farm for a large enough container. Since our chickens apparently like the communal, Roman style bath set up, I didn’t want to choose anything small.

I had a child’s wadding pool which works well, but not in the space I wanted it, under a covered corner of the run.  I have seen people use scrap wood, small logs, and old tires to make a dust bath. A cat litter pan is a good choice for one chicken to use at a time. It needs to be deep enough that the soil mixture won’t be easily scattered out of the box every time it is used.  I would suggest at least an 8 to 10 inch depth.  Some people suggest a 12 inch depth

chicken dust bath

My Ready to Use Options 

Last summer I used the child’s wading pool for the chicken dust bath. The drawback was, I never set up an easy to maintain way to cover the dust bath. And then storms happened, the dust bath was soaked, and muddy and unpleasant. It didn’t dry out well, being in plastic container, and I tossed the dust bath mixture out to get it to dry. Way too much effort!  I was determined that I would find a way to build a chicken dust bath under one of the covers in the run.

The wading pool is now being used in the other chicken coop run, where I have more room to keep it covered.  For this run, I chose an empty, shallow feeding trough.  Fits perfectly where I need it and there’s plenty of room for multiple chickens to dust bathe together. I like that I did not need to go shopping for something to use for the chicken dust bath. Reusing what is already on the farm is my go – to method whenever possible.

chicken dust bath

What to Put in the Dust Bath Mixture 

The recommended ingredients for the dust mixture are:

Dry dirt

Builders Sand

Wood Ash (from a fire pit or fireplace) I add a small bucket,  1 gallon approximately, to the large dust bath.  

Diatomaceous Earth – For the large bath I am building here, I added 4 cups of DE powder and mixed it in thoroughly.

The dirt here is very sandy already so I choose to not add more sand to our mixture. The important factors are coming up with a light fluffy soil but not so light that it will harm the chickens respiratory tract!

chicken dust bath

The chickens were in the bath before I even finished adding the wood ash and DE powder!


Add dried herbs to the dust bath if you have them. The extra snack while bathing will be appreciated and beneficial.


Don’t add chemicals! Make sure anything added to the dust bath is fertilizer free, chemical free, and pesticide free. Just like our skin, rubbing chemicals into the chickens’ skin is not going to be healthy. If your dirt has had fertilizer added to it, consider purchasing a bag of organic soil instead. 


You can use any container you like when building a dust bath. Some ideas for covers, to keep out rain, snow, cats, etc might be a small piece of scrap plywood, an inexpensive tarp, a piece of plexiglass, empty feed bags, or whatever you find! Have you built a chicken dust bath already? Tell us in the comments about your project. 

chicken dust bath