• Pages

  • Activities and Competitions

    Organizing activities and competitions can be fun but there are times you need some fresh input. In the activity drop-down menu below, you can find heaps of ideas. What about a Paper Plane Competition?
  • Activities

  • TIP: Think inside the hat!

    Party hats, store-bought or made from pages of an old book or scrap paper are very useful for a display. You can staple the hat to the board as a container for whatever you want to showcase. Or hang them in front of the board filled with little notes, poems, toy animals or whatever takes your fancy
  • TIP: Staple at an angle

    Removing old display items will be much easier when you hold the stapler at an angle when you tack items to the board. The staples will stick out at one side - perfect to get hold of and pull them out when you change displays.
  • TIP: Use a glue gun

    Glue guns are the most fantastic tools for creating displays. You can attach all sorts of materials like hard plastic, metal, fabric and everything else you can think off. Be careful with your fingers (blow - blow) the glue is very hot and you easily get blisters
  • TIP: Create a 3D effect!

    Create a 3D effect by hanging objects in front of the display board, like fish in a Sea Life display or lanterns in a Spring or Garden display.
  • TIP: Don’t overdue it!

    Too much text, images or books on display too close together distract the eye. It all becomes a blur. Each object needs its own space. Think of a shop window that is more than full with appliances, you can’t distinguish one object from the other, while carefully placed objects attract the attention.

Baroque Christmas display

A baroque display made from materials that all have been used before: wrapping paper, boxes, bottles, plastic bags and images from a withdrawn book about medieval biblical paintings. Of course you’re not able to use exactly the same materials but you can easily replace the materials with your own.

Have a look in your box of materials (if you have one) or start collecting materials. Ask your friends, neighbors, colleagues for left over or discarded wrapping paper, plastic or paper bags with nice patterns (especially fashion carry bags can be really nice), ribbons etc. and build up a collection. Also look on your the library shelf for a book about paintings and copy some suitable images or use the pages of a withdrawn book as I did.

Use your imagination: you can replace all the materials according to your taste: a green background – silver plastic bags as lining for the tree – brown tree trunk – images from internet – or left-over Christmas paper from last year ………

Have a look at the Christmas display in black and white as well. It’s a totally different display but also made with used materials. Click on the photo or go to the webpage: www.creativelibrarydisplays.com/celebrations/christmas-tree.php for a full description and detailed photos.

What you need or better – What I used:

  • Red wrapping paper
  • Withdrawn book with medieval biblical paintings
  • Plastic bag with a black and gold pattern
  • Silver stars (left-over from the display: Time travel: from Moa to Mars)
  • Gold wrapping paper
  • Black wrapping paper
  • Christmas lights
  • Small boxes in different sizes
  • Empty wine bottles (isn’t that a fantastic excuse to have a tipple)
  • Gold laminated fabric as foreground cover


What to do:

  • Cover the board in red wrapping paper
  • Cut images from the ‘painting’ book – look for the angle the images are facing. You need left and right facing paintings but also images that suit the top and bottom. Cover the edges of the board with images. Pin them first and when you have filled in the center and it all fits then staple them
  • Cut the gold and black striped plastic bag and fold it open. Use 5 cm wide strips to form the triangle of the tree head. Tie two strips together and use the knot in the middle as the top center point. Pin the knot to the board and form the triangle. Pin the angles to the board and tie the strips together in the middle as the base for the trunk

  • Cut two trunks from the golden wrapping paper. Pin them to the board right under the bottom knot of the triangle
  • Cut 2 cm wide strips from the black and gold plastic bag and pin them to the sides of the trunk, not only to make them more sturdy but also to give the impression of balance and harmony – connecting tree head and trunk

  • Cut two suitable images from the painting book and place them in the middle of the triangles    
  • To make the triangle tree heads a bit more robust I used gold, black and printed paper (with suitable images) and fitted those around the  triangle. Pin them to the board and watch from a distance how it looks. It needs to look like a natural extension of the tree. I used an image from the paper about the Vatican which I bordered with strips of black and gold wrapping paper

  • If you need to fill space add more biblical images to the top and bottom of the board – I filled up the top right and bottom left of the board to emphasize the asymmetrical placement of the trees

  • Add silver stars in different sizes for some extra sparkle
  • Attach the Christmas lights to the board. Make sure not to staple them directly but use the same paper as the background to create little ‘hangers’ that hold the wire.
  • Use gold laminated fabric to cover the foreground
  • Cover boxes with biblical painting paper and put them in front of the board   
  • Make labels from the same biblical images and attach them to the bottles. Give them ties as well
  • You could get some candles for the bottles and use little candlelights to adorn the foreground
  • Light the Christmas lights – it will look fantastic

A display that radiates warmth and invites people to explore.

The excuse that such a display is too expensive to make is no longer valid. All materials are free, creating a treasure from trash!!!

Have a creative Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Christmas tree in black and white

To show that making an attractive Christmas display doesn’t need to cost heaps I created the following display using only materials I had. I didn’t buy anything new, nothing is expensive, nothing is very elaborate.

I have a big box with used wrapping paper (tidy folded) gift bags, ribbons, etc. All the stuff that people usually throw away after the Christmas party or opening their birthday presents. A great source of cheap material. I iron wrapping paper that has ugly folds and I use it again. My partner blames my Dutch nature, I prefer to call it an environmentally friendly habit……

Have a look as well at the Baroque Christmas display in red/ black and gold. It’s a totally different display in atmosphere but also made with materials that have been discarded or used before.  Go to www.creativelibrarydisplays.com/celebrations/baroque-christmas for the description and detailed photos.

It gives you an idea of what can be done with free materials. You’ll never look at gift bags and wrapping paper in the same way. You’ll only see the patterns, admire colors and imagine what you can create with it!!!

Making this display I really cherished all the material I have accumulated over time and thought of those librarians or teachers that have such a small budget they can’t buy any materials. Maybe this is an idea for them? Get family and friends involved, assure them that you can use the wrapping paper they usually throw away and show them what you did with it, they will appreciate it and keep the most beautiful paper and fashion bags for you.

Going through all the stuff in that box I discovered bags and ribbons and paper I wasn’t even aware I had. Sorting it by color and type I came up with the idea for a Christmas tree completely made of pre-used wrapping paper and plastic bags with a nice pattern. In a little box on the bottom of the huge carton box with materials, I discovered a leftover bag with little fabric leaves – once used to adorn a present for a family member – and some glass beads, also a leftover from a previous gift to someone. It’s the same for the ribbons, all pre-used and rolled on a bit of carton to keep them nicely in shape. (I know, it sounds very organised and Dutch!!!!)

For the gift boxes, I used boxes I collected from around the house – old mobile phone boxes, tea boxes, chocolate boxes, etc – and wrapped them in paper I collected. The Christmas lights I bought for another display. The cones are made of discarded printed paper, libraries have usually enough of that. So….. all that you see in this display was used once before.

Even the background is made of carton that’s on the inside of wrapping paper rolls. Manufacturers often use a card roll but sometimes they use this kind of carton. It was a leftover from a display I did recently and didn’t discard yet.

What you need:

  • Wrapping paper with nice patterns
  • Carton for the background of wrapping paper in a color you prefer
  • White fabric leaves
  • Glass beads
  • Green wrapping paper for the trunk
  • Used / printed copy paper or you can use newspapers or magazine paper as well
  • Christmas lights – only a small string will do
  • Red pins
  • Red ribbons – can be different red and fabric
  • Black lacy fabric (Op-shops and two dollars shops are fantastic sources)
  • Boxes in different sizes and shapes


What to do:

  • Cover the background of your display board in wrapping paper or card of your choice
  • Stick a pin in the middle of the board where you situate the top of the tree and attach a string or ribbon to mark the shape of the tree. Pin the ends of the ribbons where the widest shape of the tree will be. It’s sometimes difficult to follow my own advice and I ended up with a lopsided tree because I worked without the strings on both sides to mark where the branches should end up….. meaning I had to undo the staples and adjust the ends of the tree ‘branches’ and do all the work twice!!!

  • Select your gift paper or plastic bags – whatever you choose to use – cut it in the shape of a Christmas tree – make sure it fits easily between the ribbons set out to mark the tree shape. It’s great when you have enough paper/plastic to create different layers on top of each other to give the tree body
  • Work your way down with different patterns and layers. If the paper is not wide enough you can cut it diagonally to create a wider top part
  • Make sure the left and right ends of the branches are on the same level
  • Cut a bit of green or brown paper in shape to create the trunk – just pin it, don’t staple it yet because the wire of the Christmas light needs to be hidden behind it (I forgot and had to take out all the staples on one side to create a pocket)
  • Attach the Christmas lights to the tree – use little pieces of the same paper as the tree to make hangers that holds up the string of lights. Never staple the electric cord directly to the board! Connect the electricity and check if the string covers the tree evenly

  • Staple the snowflakes in groups to the board around the tree
  • Attach a red ribbon to the top to give the display zest
  • Wrap the boxes in matching paper / ribbons and place them in front of the display

You can add more color….. have a look at the photos below


This is the first version. After finishing this tree I thought of making it a bit more colorful and attached beads, green Christmas lights and attached black lace to the snow flakes with red pins. I folded cones using scrap copy paper my partner has a stack of (I’m not the only one who collects stuff) and added a couple more gift boxes in different colors.

You can make this display as colorful and vibrant as you like. Use totally different colors, use a silver spray to light up the background etc.


Happy Christmas!

Christmas Tree – paper cones

Dilys Braithwaite,Teacher Librarian at Saint Kentigern College Boys’ School made this display for her Library. She used green A4 paper rolled into cones. ‘You have to cut the paper into squares and staple them at the seam”, she commented. She used her own train track for the track around the trunk. Kids can’t keep their hands off of it..



What you need:

  • 40 sheets of green A4 paper
  • Christmas balls
  • Christmas lights   
  • Tinsel
  • Books
  • Train set
  • Display board

How to do it:  

  • Mount the board on a table or against a wall
  • Drape the tinsel around the edges
  • Cut the A4 paper to make them square and staple them together at the seam to form cones
  • Staple the cones to the middle of the board in the shape of a tree
    Start at the top with 5 cones, second row with six and so on
  • Arrange the Christmas lights over the cones and space them out evenly so they are well balanced over the whole tree 
  • Hang the balls on some of the cones, just pinch the metal hook through the paper
  • Hang some balls on the tinsel surrounding the board
  • If you have slogans or Christmas cards you can staple them to the board
  • Place the train track on the table and arrange the books around it

Merry Christmas



Christmas Wreath from plastic bags

If you see it hanging on a door, you can’t imagine that this wreath was made out of plastic shopping bags. Yes, it’s a labour of love and you might want to involve the whanau.

Firstly: start collecting them from the beginning of the year. You need a lot of bags to create a tight layer that doesn’t show the base of the wreath.

Secondly: cut them in shape and thread them onto a piece of rubber or plastic pipe that you can bend together and secure.

You don’t need to buy expensive Christmas decorations. With a bit of elbow grease and perseverance, you can make a stunning welcome for your front door. Weather-resistant. No need for watering, Good for the environment, Less landfill.

What you need:

  • A huge amount of plastic bags – cut in rounds depending on how wide you want the wreath to be. Tear it in the center
  • Rubber or plastic pipe that can be connected to form a circle
  • Spray paint or glitter if you want to fancy the wreath up
  • Wire to hang the wreath on the door or wall

What to do:

  • Thread the plastic disks onto the pipe. Jam them tight together so they form a solid mass
  • When all plastic pieces have been used you bend the pipe ends together and secure it with tape or glue
  • Fluff the plastic to make sure the pipe is evenly coated in plasic pieces
  • Decorate if you want to make the wreath more colourful. Use glitter or spray paint
  • Attach the wire and hang it on your outside door to welcome guests and visitors

Christmas table decoration made with- no kidding – road cones

No, I didn’t take them from the road! We have a fantastic maintenance team at our College and when I asked them if I could borrow some spare cones for a couple of weeks, they brought some over. (securing for themselves a block of chocolate). I ripped an old Chris Ryan book to pieces because the yellowing  pages coloured beautifully around the edges. Even withdrawn books have their value.


On the photos they look a bit bare but in reality they were very stylish. I made 8 of them to be placed in the middle of the round tables used for a Christmas party of 40 people. Guests could place their glasses and finger food around the base of the tree. The Pohutukawa flower on top gave it a real NZ feel. I could have put some on the base but I didn’t want to get caught pruning the Pohutukawa (with old scissors in hand) so I had to be quick…….

What you need:

  • A couple of roadside cones –  legally obtained!
  • Old withdrawn book with yellowing pages 
  • Green from conifers and flowers from Pohutukawa

Of course you can decorate it in all kinds of ways. This is just a basic example. Christmas balls, fairy lights, more green or flowers, tinsel. An angel on top or a bird. You name it. Let your imagination grow wild and have fun.

What to do:

  • Cut or tear the pages from the book(s) Wrinkle the bottom pages a bit to shape them so they fit around the cone
  • Attach them to the cone with tape
  • Rip a tear in the layer that covers the lowest part of the vertical side of the cone. That makes it easier to shape it so it follows the circular form
  • Now you can start folding the pages around the cone, taping it to the underlaying pages. This makes it easier to remove the paper when Christmas is over
  • When you have reached the top you need to make sure the pages are at least 5 cm or more higher than the top of the cone, so you can put a ball, flower or angel in the paper cone without it falling out. I didn’t secure it but if you have a heavier object you might need to
  • Put green branches or Christmas decoration around the bottom. I secured the conifer twigs with tape but hid the tape under the overlapping page

Christmas Tree / Angel made from old books

 We Librarians cull a lot these days. Fiction and Nonfiction books have a shorter shelf life. I often compare our policies with that of a supermarket; if the book (product) has not been used for a specific amount of time you can consider there is no longer any 'customer demand' for the title and the space it occupies can be more 'profitably' utilised. You are better to replace the book with titles that are worth their place on the shelf.

Having withdrawn thousands of books (and yes sometimes with pain in my heart but more often with a smile) I've had lots of thoughts what to do with them. Our maintenance team and I created little tables of encyclopedias and I had ideas to use some of the books as actual book shelves but that never happened.

Here is a great idea for what to do with old books that you might not want to throw out but that is of no use to the library anymore; make a Christmas Tree out of it.

This Youtube video shows you exactly how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKvPJljPiYQ

Very simple and you can embellish the tree or transform it into an angel if you put a little Styrofoam ball on the pointy top and cut wings from another couple of pages as you can see on this Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_DXjR8xlH4

You could make several and hang the angels from an upturned umbrella frame, as if they're flying…..

What a great way to see something that is no longer used being transformed into something beautiful!


Christmas Wreath

Christmas is often an expensive time. Heaps of food and drinks presents for family and friends and decorations for tree and house.

This Christmas wreath is fantastic because it is made of plastic bags and the only cost will be the time to make it and a bit of gold paint to brighten it up. It will be a nice project to do with the kids on a rainy day. Or with a couple of friends while sipping wine, just to get you in the mood. For Christmas I mean


The only preparation you have to do is saving plastic bags in the months beforehand to get enough for a full wreath.

It looks even better if you have three hanging together!!!!


What you need:

  • Lots and lots of plastic supermarket bags without print
  • Piece of hose or rubber tube (approx. 50 cm + 10 cm extra to connect both ends)
  • Gold paint (spray or little tin) and if using a tin a paint brush
  • Gold colored string or Christmas ribbon
  • Tape

What to do:

Split a 10 cm piece of hose or tube open. Cut lots and lots of white plastic supermarket bags into pieces of approximately 10 x 10 cm and cut a little slot in the middle of the pieces. (I grabbed a lot together and pushed a knife through it) Add them to the tube or hose and fill up 3/4  of the hose.

Push the 10 cm piece (as mentioned above) over the two ends to create a circle. Secure with a bit of tape. Spread the plastic evenly over the hose to avoid empty spaces where  you can see the hose. Cut off strange corners of loose hanging ends of the plastic. Spray with a little gold paint spray or brush with paint brush little bits of paint over the plastic and let it dry.

Hang on the door, a wall or from the ceiling.

Whet your appetite! Cookbook Display

You can’t turn on the TV these days without a master chef telling us how to prepare a healthy and tasteful meal. Potatoes and veggies with a meatball on the side are out. Enjoying gravy is similar to signing your death sentence and a simple tomato soup contains at least 20 ingredients without the tomatoes. Instead of chef’s hats you could use cauliflower or beetroots, strawberries or bunches of asparagus. Don’t let your imagination limit you. Go veggie crazy!

I love cooking and I love watching those programs. I frantically write down the recipes but never make the dishes because I often miss the details. Was it 50 or 150 grams? Did she say teaspoons or tablespoons? “Never mind’ I usually mutter to my partner while I throw away my unreadable notes….. ‘let’s have a glass of wine and see what I can come up with.’

And then the day arrives that you have guests for dinner and a lack of inspiration. Or Christmas and you’ll be hosting lots of family members. Cooking for the parents is not that difficult but what to do for the children?

WOW….., A Veggie Farm  Boil two dozen eggs, get carrots, capsicum and tomatoes and let a class of children take care of the animals.

If that’s all too complicated then this is the time to give al those marvellous cookbooks a dusting and put them on display. They are the reference books for the ‘hopeful-but-not-yet’ master chefs. Those books whet your appetite while flicking through the pages, dreaming of tables set with fancy porcelain and softly glowing candles. The guest will be surprised by your cooking skills especially when you finish that lovely dinner with a superb Creme Brule straight from Youtube.

Turkish pide, Spanish anti-pasta, Olive oil recipes, these colourful books will look even better with a background like this. The strong red and black colour scheme and the repetition of the aprons outline the cookbooks even more and the white chef hats give just that extra bit of light and freshness.

What you need:

  • Black and red wrapping paper
  • 3 Aprons
  • 10 Images of chef’s hats (Google – images) enlarged and laminated
  • Black card for background title and behind the chef hats on top of title board
  • Red letters for the title, printed on A3 and laminated
  • Images of fruit and vegetables. I copied them from one of our books but Google – images will work as well – printed, laminated and cut into shape (To make it easier for myself I roughly follow the contour of the image and the little white border gives it an even more outlined appearance)
  • Carton boxes to create some extra (cheap) display space
  • Christmas lights

What to do:

Display panels: 

  • Cover the left and right top part of the panel with the black wrapping paper. I placed it horizontally because the paper was not wide enough to cover it vertically
  • Cover the top part of the middle panel with the red wrapping paper, horizontally for the same reason
  • Cover the bottom parts of the panels with the contrasting paper
  • Arrange the aprons sideways to the panels. Pin them first and if they look good, staple the corners
  • Drape the Christmas lights along the top line of the aprons. I use laminated offcuts to secure the wire to the board.  Make sure you connect the plug and wires in a safe way
  • Staple the strings of the aprons to the underside of the bookshelves and over the Christmas lights. I stapled them to the front of the shelf to create depth
  • Staple the three remaining chef hats to the middle of the aprons and add an extra piece of fruit or vegetables to the hat

Title board:    

  • Staple 15 cm wide black card to the top part of the title board
  • Cover the rest of the board with red wrapping paper but make sure that at least 13 cm black card remains visible
  • Staple black card to the middle of the board (over the red wrapping paper) to create a dark border for the white/red title. Use only a few staples at the top because the chef hats need to be tucked in between the black card and wrapping paper
  • Staple the title to the middle of the black card. Make sure the visible  top and bottom part of the black card are the same width or make the top slightly smaller
  • Arrange the chef hats in pairs of threes and twos above the title and tuck the bottom of the hats behind the black card
  • Arrange some of the laminated fruit and vegges on the red paper under the title and staple them to the board

Highlight the fruits of nature by enlarging and laminating them. A giant mushroom, cauliflower or carrot will steal the show.


  • Cover the boxes with the remaining black and red wrapping paper. Be creative and make borders and top/bottom combinations
  • Paste the laminated images of the fruit and vegetables to the boxes. Remember that some of the boxes are standing and others lying on their sides.
  • Secure the book stands with a small piece of tape to the top of  the boxes, just to make sure the books are not pushed off by passing library users
  • Arrange the boxes with books in front of the display board                            
  • Step back and have a look at your creation, rearrange if necessary and make adjustments ’til you’re happy with your work
    Add the books to the shelves and show off your collection