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  • 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.

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!