Fun Ways to Recycle Those Unwanted Holiday Gifts!

... so happy!
photo credit: x-ray delta one

OD BLESS her, your Aunt Betty is nothing if not consistent. Every holiday without fail she gives you a million-piece puzzle rated more difficult than the last, although we're not sure what can top one entitled "Sand."

Help! What do you do with all of your taste-challenged, unrequested holiday gifts? You leave them to Happy Woman, because we've got a stocking full of smart recycling ideas that will remake all those holiday duds into treasures!

Holiday Snow

Have you just about had it with apparel gifts from hell? That ghastly sweater with the duck appliqués? Those grandma pants with the elastic waist stretchy enough to hold you and a vending machine? Now please don't donate these monstrosities to Goodwill, unless you're prepared to have your conscience tormented by visions of a stranger with used ducks waddling across her unfortunate chest. What did she ever do to you??

Instead, just load everything into the washing machine, add three bottles of liquid bleach, and voila!—you have snow! Wrap it under the tree or swag it over doorways for a festive touch. It won't have that "pure as driven snow" appearance of course, because of the variety of garments and the sheer volume of doodads so often attached to clothing of poor taste. You'll have more like "plowed snow" or "snow disturbed by hyperactive children who created forts and then tore them down with no regard for neatness or the neigbor's lawn."

Digital Dazzle

Sick of those Kathie Lee Gifford cd's your sister-in-law inflicts upon you year after year? Well, gather them all together, along with any other discs you find repulsive. At Happy Woman, we harbor a special loathing for pilates dvd's! Now loosely pile your digital rejects onto a carpeted surface, don your most wicked stilettos, and dance a holiday jig on those beasties! In a few short minutes you'll have a sizable mound of digital dazzle, not to mention nicely firmed calves—who needs pilates! Sprinkle some dazzle around your mantle to glitter up those holiday cards. Or add sparkle to your "snow" under the tree, or around your hanukkah candles. Just don't get them too close to flame! We don't want Kathie Lee's minced vocals fused to your fine woodwork—hasn't she done enough damage?

Game Board Wallpaper

Science has shown that there are only two board games worth owning: Monopoly, with the ORIGINAL game pieces, and Parcheesi. OK and maybe Trivial Pursuit, but we see by a show of hands in the office that Science has not yet achieved consensus on Trivial Pursuit.

So what in heaven's name do you do with all the loser board games you receive each year as gifts? You get some very strong glue and use them to "paper" the walls of—you guessed it—your game room! Each board provides a perfect square of colorful, unique decoration for your recreational haven. Concerns of offending those who gave you the board games quickly vanish when you remember: You don't like these people!

And all those little leftover game accessories make wonderful surprise gifts for your Halloween trick-or-treaters. Imagine their delight upon upending their goody bags to discover among the Sweetarts and Twizzles their very own stubby pencil! Thanks to you, they'll enjoy hours of stubby pencilling pleasure!

Flannel Wind Traps

If there's one thing we can predict, it's that most of our female readers will receive at least one full-length flannel nightgown from a grandma or aunt this holiday season. It's her way of saying, "Please stop having sex—altogether if you can possibly help it."

Being that there are much smaller birth-control products already on the market, and that wearing a flannel nightgown is like wearing a hot flash, we've come up with a much better use for them.

Just sew the bottom together, crank it up a flag pole, and you've harnessed the power of the wind*! One flannel windtrap produces a good 1.8 kilowatts of convertable energy** per hour. Just think of the savings on your energy bill this winter! And if you really care about the environment, consider transforming your backyard into a neighborhood "wind farm" by collecting and harnessing the power of every flannel nightgown on your block. Wow, are you a good neighbor or what?!

*On windy days.

**We have no idea how to convert wind to energy. Let us know when you figure it out!

Advent Calendar Spice Rack

Little ones love to guess what's behind each door on the holiday Advent Calendar that grandma presents to them every December. But for us grown-ups, finding Mr. Snow Bunny behind door number 22 is slightly less than inspiring. Well, punch out Mr. Bunny when you find him, and make room for a bottle of oregano instead! Granted it will have to be a small bottle of oregano, possibly a vial, but if you're doing things right, you shouldn't need more than a vial of any spice per calendar year. The rest of the time you should be ordering pizza or eating out on bad credit. If you can't think of enough spices to fill up the rest of your advent calendar, we have an even better idea:

Advent Calendar Cigarette Caddy

Perfect size, and you'll know when you're running low!