Holiday gifts and decor with flea market finds

Holiday gifts and decor with flea market finds

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

This year, add some European flea market flair to your custom holiday gifts and decorations. But before you spend all day on Pinterest, check out these easy, affordable projects. I tried them all and promise they won’t end in Pinterest fails.


Flea market find: Costume jewelry and vintage buttons 

Make a snazzy bookmark for the reader who prefers the real deal over a Kindle. Supplies: Fabric scraps or ribbon; jump rings; ribbon crimps; pliers; charm, brooch, pendant or earring (remove clasps, backings and fasteners). Steps: Trim fabric to desired bookmark dimensions and fasten crimps to each end to prevent unraveling. Use a jump ring to attach finding to ribbon crimp. Put the bookmark in a new bestseller or beautiful vintage book. 

Turn junk into shimmering fridge magnets. Supplies: Hot glue gun, E6000 adhesive or superglue; glitter; magnet rounds; buttons, brooches (clasp removed) or pendants. Steps: Coat findings in glue and sprinkle glitter. Once glitter is set, glue magnets to findings. For more sophisticated magnets, layer small brooches on top of buttons or layer multi-colored buttons. 

Upcycle dated bling and mismatched buttons for a bracelet. Supplies: E6000 adhesive or metal glue, blank bracelet (available on Amazon), clip earrings (clip removed) or buttons. Steps: Line up buttons and earrings to get the right look. (Hint: Layered buttons look better.) Because the adhesive sets quickly, glue findings one link at a time. 

Give the hospitality expert or wine enthusiast wineglass charms, so no one sips from the wrong glass at the next shindig. Supplies: Wineglass hoops (crafting section of Amazon), jump rings, strand of beads (beads need to have large openings), small pendants or charms. Steps: Dismantle necklace and thread onto hoop or use jump rings to attach charms or pendants to the hoop. 

Dress up a mundane mirror, picture frame or vase with vintage buttons and jewels. You may come across frameless mirrors, vases and photo frames at a flea market. Inexpensive options are available at discounters like Tedi Euro, IKEA and Aldi. Supplies: E6000 adhesive, superglue or glass glue (for mirror/vase); buttons or jewelry (clasps and backings removed). Steps: Same as for bracelet. Repurpose broken strands of pearls, sections from rhinestone necklaces and large brooches. 

Flea market find: Mismatched china 

Use mismatched teacups as elegant candle holders. Supplies: candles; wicks and sustainers (Amazon); double boiler; skewers, pencils or pens; tape; teacups. Steps: Heat water in the bottom pot of your double boiler. Melt candles in the top pot and remove wicks. Cut the new wick two inches above the teacup edge. Put the wick in the teacup, and hold the wick in place between taped skewers, pens or pencils balanced on the teacup rim. Pour the melted wax to just below the top of the teacup. Make sure you have plenty of wax; I melted three votives per teacup. 

Organize jewelry, serve tapas or display desserts on a multipurpose, multi-level tray. Supplies: Plates, candlesticks, glass adhesive. Steps: Spread glue on the middle of the largest plate and bottom of the candlestick and attach the two. Once set (check wait time on glue instructions), glue a smaller plate on top of the candlestick. Repeat to add tiers. Line trays with doilies, cupcake liners or wax paper when serving food. 

Flea market finds: Glass jars and metal tins 

Assemble a mulled wine kit for cold winter nights. Supplies: Cleaned glass jar and lid, printed directions, spices, red wine. Steps: Visit Buzz Feed for ingredients. Add dry spices to the glass jar and print directions provided at above link. Include a bottle of wine in the gift bag. 

Baked goods are a timeless holiday favor. For recipe ideas, read “A Gift of Plätzchen” in our digital edition of "Welcome to Europe." Supplies: Ingredients for goodies, tins, wax paper, ribbon, indoor/outdoor spray paint (optional). Steps: Clean tins and line with wax paper. Bake, cool and place goodies in tin. If you don’t like vintage or kitschy tins, paint and let dry before you start baking. Wrap with ribbon. 


Flea market find: Costume jewelry 

A dazzling mini tree will be the star of your table or mantel. Supplies: Papier-mâché cone or Styrofoam cone; E6000 or metal glue; jewelry and metal buttons; push pins; paint, fabric or metallic paper. Steps: Paint or wrap the cone. Remove backings from findings and glue, or leave pins and earring posts and pin gems in place. FYI: The papier-mâché cone is easier for painting and gluing. 

Upgrade to a glam bejeweled wreath. Supplies: Styrofoam ring; ribbon; fabric or burlap; E6000, metal glue or pins; brooches, pendants and beads; pearl garland, MagiKote or other Styrofoam coating and spray paint (all optional). Steps: Wrap the wreath in fabric, ribbon or burlap and glue the ends. Plan your wreath in thirds, then glue or pin jewelry. Don’t have enough pieces for the entire wreath? Cover two-thirds in ribbon or pearl garland (order a lot of garland) and the rest in jewelry. To wrap a 12-inch form, I needed 24 yards of pearls and an extra pair of hands. You can skip the hassle of the wrapping process by coating the Styrofoam ring in MagiKote and spray paint. Tie a ribbon loop to hang your snazzy wreath. 

Flea market find: Cards and photographs 

Add charm to an otherwise boring wreath with one of these variations. Supplies: Styrofoam ring; ribbon; fabric or burlap; E6000 or superglue; pins; post cards, greeting cards and photographs. Steps: Wrap wreath with material, glue ends and pin cards. Supplies: Clothespins, embroidery hoop, spray paint, cards and photos, ribbon. Steps: Spraypaint embroidery hoop and clothes pins and let dry. Clip cards around the edges of the hoop to form a wreath. Supplies: Superglue, cards, ribbon. Steps: Slightly overlap cards in the shape of a wreath; glue overlapping edges. Create a ribbon loop to hang your choice of wreath. 

Decorate your stairs or mantel with a garland. Supplies: ¼ inch ribbon, hole punch, cards and photos. Steps: Cut ribbon, leaving excess to drape garland. Punch one hole in the top left and right corners of cards and photos, and thread onto ribbon. You can hang the garland alone or wrap it around a plain green garland. 

Flea market find: Milk jug or umbrella stand 

A milk jug or umbrella stand becomes a pretty base for a small Christmas tree or arrangement. Supplies: Greenery, milk jug or umbrella stand, chalk paint (optional). Steps: Repaint your flea market find a festive holiday color, if needed. Once dry, add a mini Christmas tree, holly branches or a seasonal plant.

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