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Don't throw out those old light bulbs. Repurpose them!

By Mary Ripley on  December 5, 2016

You've made the decision to slowly phase out using those old, energy-hogging light bulbs in your home in favor of energy and wallet-friendly LEDs. But before you throw them out, know that the type of bulb you have depends on how you can dispose of it. Many bulbs cannot be thrown in our landfills. So instead of throwing out those old bulbs, get crafty and turn them into some great keepsakes with a little effort and some imagination. The first thing you'll need to do for any light bulb craft is to remove the lighting mechanism and hollow out the bulb. This can be tricky, but here's a great tutorial. Since this is the hard part, once this step is complete, there's a world of possibilities for you to repurpose those old bulbs into practically anything you want.

Incandescent bulbs

1) Terrarium—You can make your very own terrarium with just a few items from outside. Cover the bottom of your light bulb with a layer of tiny pebbles to create a false drainage system for the roots of whatever plant you choose. Then add a thin layer of activated charcoal to prevent mold and bacteria buildup, followed by a minimal amount of dirt. Finally, add moss, ferns, or cacti and succulents of your choice.

decorative flowers in a light bulb hanging on a string

2) Bud vase—Once your light bulb is hollowed and cleaned, just add some water for a single flower bud vase. The tricky part of constructing a bud vase is getting the light bulb to stand upright. To do this, you can bend a wire hanger into shape so it's a freestanding base to hold the bulb. For a more sleek look, use putty to steady the vase on a hard surface like a piece of wood and then camouflage the surface with twine or rope.

3) Gifts—Light bulb gifts make great presentations, especially for somebody like a teacher! Fill your hollowed light bulb with the teacher's favorite candy, attach a gift card for their favorite store or restaurant and you have an impressive gift any teacher would cherish.

4) Decorations—Turn your old light bulbs into decorations that you'd otherwise spend good money on. For a great Autumn decoration, wrap light bulbs in twine and add a stem. Soon, you'll have instant twine pears that can be used as basket or vase fillers. And for a fraction of what you'd pay in a store.

Snowman Christmas tree ornament - made from a recycled lightbulb

5) Christmas ornaments—You can make some amazing Christmas ornaments with just a few items from the craft store. They can be as simple as an elegant glittered ornament or they can be intricate and detailed to look like your favorite holiday characters (snowmen, reindeer or even the Grinch). You can even personalize them with your friends' names for great gifts.

C9 and Christmas mini lights

1) Jewelry—Because of their smaller size, C9 and mini Christmas light bulbs make great jewelry. Fill mini lights with gears and springs, wrap with wire and add hooks for a great pair of steampunk earrings. Or add sand and small seashells to a clear C9 bulb, attach to a silky blue rope and you have a gorgeous beachy necklace.

2) Wreath—Take either old colored C9 bulbs or clear ones that you've spray painted and glue them to a floral foam wreath shell. Embellish with pine, tinsel or ribbon to prevent the floral foam from showing through and you have a beautiful and affordable wreath. All while repurposing your old light bulbs.


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