Giving with repurpose

Written by Kim Harris

This festive season has increased challenges of high inflation, rising interest rates, product shortages and a general sense of instability that has been lingering since Covid arrived in 2020.

For those watching their budget and are keen to get their hands dirty, I have created a collection of affordable DIY gifts that will surely please, the projects don’t feel low-cost even though they are! Each project can be done in an afternoon and cost very little.

Giving a handmade gift is environmentally conscious especially when using repurposed unwanted items, offering landfill bound items a second life. To be honest I wasn’t always into working with used goods, I didn’t understand the pleasure of the hunt but now I really get a kick out of finding a bargain then transforming into a unique, functional, aesthetically pleasing piece.

Sharing your time, energy and creativity is a thoughtful gesture that should not be confused with being a cheap ass! Time is one of our most precious commodities!


Big pot planters make a statement, they are great for patios, suit renters, are low maintenance, and moveable. These planters are one of a kind and ideal to gift to someone special this Christmas.

Your local tip shop should have plenty of old Washing Machine drum tubs already removed from the machine unit and ready to use with only a few modifications.

The Drums make great Fire Pits, check out my social media to see one I made. It works brilliantly. It is an affordable gift idea that everyone can enjoy together.


*Flat bottom is good for stability
*Holes in the bottom for drainage or you can drill
*Doesn’t have lots of plastic parts that may require loads of time removing

Pick a drum size that suits your potting mix budget and plant choice. Standard drums will require about three bags of potting mix available from my favourite nursery Hervey Bay Garden Centre starting from $9 per bag. I use this nursery because they always have new stock, sell unique plants, family owned and operated and will take the time to have a yarn.

Inspect your drum options with drainage in mind, not only at bottom but also around top lip and sides.

Fraser Coast Council Tip Shop has washing machine drums for $5 each.

No suitable drums available? Hunt for your treasure and think outside the box!

Teapots, wheelbarrows, metal bins, even a sink or toilet. You never know what you will find at the Tip Shop or your backyard. Your imagination is the limit.

I found drum no1 in a retro green colour. I liked raw look simply cleaned and kept as is. Additional drainage holes were drilled to avoid any plant rot and fungus forming around the lip. Easy Peasy!

On Wall Hanging Drum no2, I spent many hours hand painting with acrylic paints.

Using stencils and freehand techniques to create a vibrant piece of garden art that can be uniquely viewed from all sides.

A much quicker option would be two coats of a quality spray paint containing a primer. Freshening the drum and giving it new life. Make sure you thoroughly clean drum first and ensure drum is dry before painting. Approx. $18 per can, does 2-3 coats.

After 48hrs drying time, I sprayed drum with a protective seal. Wait another 24hrs before potting.

Drum 2 had a large hole drilled in back panel by a handyman, he also drilled a sturdy bolt into my brickwork to hang on exterior wall. When the drum has potting mix and is watered it will become extremely heavy. Ensure you have a qualified person to assist with any hanging or major drilling to avoid injury to yourself or property damage.

Planting your Drum is going to make it heavy to transport so consider giving unfilled. It could be a fun activity for you to do together.

You can’t go wrong with a kangaroo paw plant for instant height, vibrant colour, plus bonus bird attracting.

Hervey Bay Garden Centre Urraween has new season vibrant colours available of Kangaroo Paw. Rainbow, Purple, Blue, Aqua – they really need to be seen to be believed.

If you have succulents, yucca, or aloe vera on hand, take a cutting or transplant a portion to keep your budget low

Water daily for 3 weeks, then every couple of days but less in the cooler months

This will be the most fun you will have with a washing machine this Christmas!