Let’s make this Chanukah a sustainable Chag Sameach! (Happy Holiday!)
We have all done it. Weeks before our family Chanukah gathering, we search for festive holiday plates, napkins, tablecloths and decorations. In specialty party stores, big box stores, the web, and even in our grocers there is a dizzying array to choose from.
But, let’s think about this. If everyone in our congregations, in our city, state, or country bought those one-use items, would we be missing an easy and important way to tame our waste? If our goal is to be climate conscious, which means not adding to landfills, recycling as much as possible, and certainly not using throw-away plastic dinnerware, don’t we have to think carefully about our personal actions around our dinner table holiday events?
Let’s go through some easy no-sew projects for an eco Chanukah party.
You will need:
- Good scissors
- Measuring device
- Optional: an iron
Start a new tradition you can reuse for many years: skip the plastic or paper tablecloth. Find fabrics at local stores like JoAnn’s and Michaels, possibly Walmart. Quilt stores will have it also.
Wash and dry before you start. Ironing helps.
Options to create
- Tablecloth or runner: Before you shop, measure including for the ends to hang over.
- Placemats. Figure 12” by 16-18” each.
- Napkins. They can be as small as 12” square to 18” square.
Measure and mark the back for cutting lines. Cut with scissors or even pinking shears if you have them.
To have a more finished look (optional), iron approximately 1/4″ to ½” turning the front to the back. You can turn it twice if you want to.
If you do sew, stitch hems by machine or by hand, but if not, purchase fabric glue. Another magic crafty tip is to use “Stitch Witchery,” a fusible double sided bonding tape to iron on which fuses the fabric fold-over to itself.
Turn discarded men’s shirts into napkins and placemats! Sleeves are perfect to make napkins, and the body will yield several placemats. The fun part is collecting them from family, rummage sales, and thrift stores.
Challenge your family to use only materials already in your recycling bins: cardboard, junk mail, plastic, aluminum, Styrofoam trays, used wrapping paper, gift bags, shopping bags.
Cut strips of cardboard, colorful mail, newspapers and magazines to weave pages to be cut into dreidel and star shapes. Glue stick the edges.
Cut #1 rigid recyclable plastic (clear thin see-through) and aluminum pie or take-out tins flat. Use markers or paint either directly on the surface, ask children to make small paper pictures to glue to the center, or cut out stars, dreidels and letters. String them together or tape to windows.
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Nina Edelman was the founding librarian at Milwaukee Jewish Day School. She is a member of the movement Dayenu.org; A Jewish Call to Climate Action, which has an active group at Congregation Shalom. Nina is an avid quilter and hasn’t met a fabric she hasn’t adopted.