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Plastic bottle crafts: 16 creative ideas your kids will love

Want to do your bit for the planet and reuse your plastic bottles? We’ve got some fun and fabulous craft ideas for all the family.

Updated

A plastic bottle turned into a rocket

Plastic bottle crafts are an easy (and super fun) way to reuse single-use plastic bottles and teach your kids a bit about green living to boot. From bubble bath bottles to fizzy pop bottles, there are lots of creative ways to give them a second lease of life.

Reusing your plastic bottles is a great way to do your bit for the planet. Plastic pollution is a huge problem – it’s choking our oceans and killing wildlife. And while recycling plastic bottles is now commonplace, this still uses energy and adds to our carbon footprints.

So whether you’re wondering what to do with a large two-litre plastic bottle or an empty shampoo bottle, we’ve got some easy plastic bottle craft ideas to get your creative juices flowing (and make sure you take a look at our handy guide to plastic bottle recycling too).

Before you start: handy tools for all plastic bottle art

Each idea has a list of what you’ll need to make it. But there are a few common items it’s worth having handy to make your life a bit easier:

  • A craft knife – while not strictly necessary, as you can use scissors, this will help you make the initial puncture into a bottle and will be much neater. (Craft knives are very sharp, so make sure it’s you that uses it, not the kids.)
  • PVA glue – this will work better for sticking than a solid glue stick.
  • Good quality poster paint – we found this type of paint works best for painting plastic bottles.
  • Good quality permanent markers – for adding details to your crafty creations.

Removing labels from bottles

Most labels come off plastic bottles with relative ease. But if you’re having problems, the best thing to do is to soak the label in hot water mixed with a little washing up liquid. It should come off pretty easily after that.

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Quick start video: 3 easy plastic bottle craft ideas

If you’re looking to get started ASAP, there are three super simple ideas for plastic bottle crafts in this quick video. (There are more instructions on all three later.)

1. An apple gift box

Plastic bottle turned into an apple gift box

Looking for a creative way to pack up a present for your kids’ teachers? An apple couldn’t be more traditional.

You will need

  • 2 plastic drinks bottles with bottoms that look like apples (the size doesn’t matter too much, as long as they’re approximately the same).
  • A twig
  • Red and green felt or tissue paper
  • Green card (we used an old greetings card)
  • Any decorations (e.g. ribbons, flowers, etc. – we used a flower from a greetings card)
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • PVA glue

Method

  1. Cut the bottoms off the two plastic bottles using the craft knife to make the first cut. Use the scissors to trim the bottles to the right height.
  2. Cut the twig so it’s about 3 cm long.
  3. Use the craft knife to make a cross-shaped cut in the bottom of one of the bottles, then push the twig through (it should be held firmly in place, but if not, use a little glue).
  4. Wrap your gift or treats in the felt or tissue paper and arrange inside the bottom of the bottle without the twig (try to make it approximately apple shaped as pictured)
  5. If the two bottles are exactly the same size, cut a couple of small 2cm long slits into opposite sides of the bottle with the twig in it. (This will make it easier to slide it inside the other bottle.)
  6. Slide the bottle with the twig inside the other bottle to create the box.
  7. Cut the green card into leaf shapes and glue them on.
  8. Add finishing touches with any extra decorations – we added a flower.

2. Monster pen holders

Shampoo bottles turned into monster pen holders

These monstrous pen holders are a great way to reuse old shampoo bottles (or other brightly coloured plastic bottles).

You will need

  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • White and black card (or a pen to colour the card black)
  • Stick-on googly eyes (or you can make the eyes from card)
  • PVA glue

Method

  1. Use the craft knife to make the first incision in the bottle, then use the scissors to cut it to the correct shape (depending on which monster you’re copying).
  2. Cut out arms and (if needed) sticks for the eyes from the offcuts. (Be creative, they can look as crazy as you like!)
  3. Use the glue to stick on the arms and any other body parts you’ve created.
  4. Stick on the googly eyes (or fashion some eyes out of card).
  5. Cut out teeth using the white card and stick them inside the mouth opening (or if you’re making our pink monster, stick them onto a circle of black card and stick this to the inside back of the bottle).

3. A simple plastic bottle bird feeder

A plastic bottle bird feeder

Brilliant for the environment in more ways than one, this bird feeder is perfect for attracting more wildlife to your garden (just watch out for those sneaky squirrels!).

You will need

  • A craft knife
  • A large drinks bottle (ours is a tonic water bottle)
  • 2 wooden spoons or spatulas (we used one of each) – or you could use pieces of wood, but make sure they’re wide enough to catch the seed that spills from the holes.
  • Birdseed
  • String
  • Small eye screw

Method

  1. Using the craft knife cut two holes at opposite sides of the bottle, about a third of the way up. The holes should be big enough to slide a spoon/spatula through so it sits snugly.
  2. Then slide one of the spatulas (or spoons) through both holes so it comes out the other side. The bowl of the spoon should be up against the side of the bottle.
  3. Make the hole where the bowl of the spoon (or wide part of the spatula) is located a bit taller, like a narrow arch – enough so that some seed will spill out onto the wood. (Don’t make it too wide though, or the seed will go everywhere!)
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with two more holes about two thirds of the way up the bottle. Locate them so that the wooden spoons will cross at right angles.
  5. Fill the bottle with birdseed.
  6. Screw the eye screw into the bottle lid, then screw the lid onto the bottle.
  7. Attach the string to the eye of the screw and ta-da – your bird feeder is ready to hang.

4. Blossom printing

Using the bottom of  a plastic bottle to paint a blossom tree picture

Ever noticed that the bottom of a plastic bottle often looks very much like a flower? Take advantage and use one to make beautiful pictures like this with your kids.

You will need

  • A large plastic bottle with a bottom like the one pictured.
  • Paints (brown plus a bright colour for the blossom)
  • A big piece of paper or card

Method

  1. Paint a tree trunk and branches onto the paper with the brown paint.
  2. Choose a paint colour for your flowers and pour it onto an old plate or plastic tray.
  3. Dip the end of the bottle in the paint and print. Simple!

5. A cute cat planter

A plastic bottle turned into a cute planter with a cat face on it

Creating planters out of old plastic bottles is a great long term way to make use of them. And they’ll really brighten up the garden.

You will need

  • A large plastic bottle, ideally with a flower-shaped base, as pictured (we used clear, but if you have a white bottle that’ll save you some painting).
  • White poster paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Black permanent marker
  • Pink permanent marker
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors

Method

  1. Use the pen to roughly mark out the top of the planter and the cat ears on the bottle. To allow enough room for a small plant, there should be about 11cm from the base to the tips of the ears.
  2. Use a craft knife to make the first incision into the bottle, then use the scissors to cut out the shape you’ve marked on the bottle.
  3. Now it’s time to paint the bottle. This is the bit that can take time as depending on the type of paint you’re using, you may need up to three layers (with drying time in between).
  4. Once the bottle is painted and dried you can add in all the details using the marker pens.
  5. When you come to plant something in the planter, it’s important to ensure adequate drainage. You can do this by making some holes in the bottom of the planter using the craft knife. And it’s best to add a layer of gravel at the bottom before adding the soil and your plant of choice.

6. A super simple pen holder

A plastic bottle pen holder

This pen holder couldn’t be easier to make. It’s the perfect crafting activity for younger kids, as they can go crazy sticking on their favourite decorations.

You will need

  • A small plastic drinks bottle (approx 500ml)
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Decorations of your choice (we used square glitter stickers)
  • PVA glue (depending on your choice of decoration)

Method

  1. Use the craft knife to make the first incision into the bottle, about two thirds of the way up.
  2. Take the scissors, and cut away the top of the bottle.
  3. Go mad with the decorations. Simple.

7. A hanging planter

A plastic bottle turned into a hanging planter

If you want to brighten up your garden walls, this hanging planter is a great alternative to the traditional hanging basket.

You will need

  • A plastic bottle (we used a large one approx. 2 litres)
  • Craft knife
  • String

Plus soil and the seeds or seedlings of your choice.

Method

  1. Cut a rectangular window into the bottle using the craft knife. (Leave enough space either end for a loop of string to sit securely.
  2. Add holes on the opposite side of the bottle (for drainage).
  3. Fill with soil, then plant your seeds or seedlings.
  4. Take two loops of string and tie them around each end of the bottle (for an easy way to do this, see the video at the start of this article).
  5. Hang the planter in your location of choice.

8. A plastic bottle lava lamp

A plastic bottle turned into a lava lamp

Lava lamps are absolutely fascinating for kids (and adults, let’s face it). But they’re also a bit on the pricey side. Well, fear not, you can make them at home with minimal fuss.

You will need

  • A plastic bottle (any size)
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil
  • Water
  • Liquid food colouring
  • An Alka-Seltzer tablet
  • (Optional) Glitter, sequins

Method

  1. Fill the bottle approximately a quarter full with water.
  2. Fill the bottle almost up to the top with vegetable oil, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
  3. Add the food colouring, drop by drop, until the water reaches your desired shade.
  4. Add in any optional extras such as glitter or sequins.
  5. Break the Alka-Seltzer tablets into small pieces, about 1cm in size.
  6. Drop the Alka-Seltzer pieces into the bottle. It’ll drop to the bottom and immediately begin fizzing, sending the coloured water up through the oil in a stream of bubbles. Add more as the bubbles slow down.

9. Milk bottle pen sorters

Plastic milk bottles turned into pen organisers

Don’t know what to do with those empty milk bottles? Got loads of pens and pencils lying dotted around the house? This is the make for you. (And it’s easy peasy!)

You will need

  • Milk bottle(s) (2 pints or larger)
  • Craft knife

Method

  1. Simply use the craft knife to cut away the bottom quarter of the milk bottle, beneath the handle (as pictured).
  2. Fill with all your loose pens and pencils.

10. Monster sweetie jars

Plastic bottles turned into monster sweetie jars

These not-so-scary sweetie jars are perfect for using up colourful toiletries bottles (like shampoo and bubble bath bottles). A great idea for Halloween trick or treaters.

You will need

  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • White and coloured card (you could use old greeting cards or cereal packets)
  • Black permanent marker
  • Stick-on googly eyes (or you can make the eyes from card)
  • PVA glue
  • Any other decorations of your choice (we used some sticky spots)

Method

  1. Use the craft knife to make the first incision in the bottle, then use the scissors to cut it to the correct shape (depending on which monster you’re copying).
  2. Cut out arms and any other body parts like hair from the offcuts of plastic. (Be creative, they can look as crazy as you like!)
  3. Use the glue to stick on the arms and any other body parts you’ve created.
  4. Stick on the googly eyes (or fashion some eyes out of card).
  5. Cut out teeth using the white card and stick them inside the mouth opening. 
  6. Use coloured card and any other decorations to add those finishing touches.
  7. Add additional detail with the permanent marker (if desired).

11. A plastic bottle octopus

Plastic bottle octopus

Your little ones will love helping to make this cute plastic bottle octopus. Let them choose the colours and decorations to make it all their own.

You will need

  • 1 empty plastic bottle
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Poster paint (we chose red)
  • Decorations for the top (for example, ribbon or a bow)
  • PVA glue
  • 2 stick-on googly eyes
  • Black permanent marker

Method

  1. Cut off the bottom of the water bottle (use the craft knife to make the initial incision).
  2. Paint the rest of the bottle in your colour of choice (you may need to allow up to three coats to get it looking perfect).
  3. When the paint is dry, use the scissors to cut eight strips in the bottle. Start at the bottom and go up to about 8cm from the top (just leave enough room for the head).
  4. Add a ribbon, bow or other decorations to pretty-up the lid of the bottle.
  5. Then simply stick on the eyes and use the marker pen to draw on the features.

12. Pretty plastic bottle flowers

Plastic bottle flowers

These flowers are another winner with the kids – and you can also follow the same technique to make palm trees.

You will need

  • 1 empty plastic bottle with lid (keep the label handy or some scrap paper)
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Poster paint
  • Decorative tape (we used gold)
  • Coloured sticky dots (or other decorations)
  • PVA glue
  • Sand or soil
  • Pebbles or rocks
  • Drinking straw or twig

Method

  1. Remove the bottle lid and put to one side.
  2. Cut the water bottle in half, using the craft knife to make the first incision. Put the bottom half of the bottle aside.
  3. Paint the top of the water bottle in your colour of choice. (You may need to allow up to three coats to get it looking perfect.)
  4. Once the bottle is dry, cut slits, about 2.5cm wide, in the top half of the bottle. You should end up with about eight ‘petals’. Bend the petals outward.
  5. Add your choice of decorations (we used colourful sticky dots).
  6. Screw the lid back on the bottle, then squeeze some PVA glue into the inside of the lid and insert the straw or twig into the glue.
  7. Screw up the bottle label (or scrap paper) and wad it into the lid to surround the straw. This will give the straw stability.
  8. Use the decorative tape around the edge of the bottom half of the bottle. (This is optional, but it’ll look nice!)
  9. Put some sand or soil into the bottom half of the bottle and pack it down a bit.
  10. Insert the bottom end of the straw into it and add some pebbles or stones on top of the sand to help stabilize the straw.

13. A plastic bottle pom pom catcher

A plastic bottle pom pom catcher

This is such a simple idea but it can keep your kids occupied for hours. You could even set them records to beat (then relax with a nice hot cuppa).

You will need

  • A large plastic bottle (2 litres ideally)
  • Wool or string
  • A pom pom (here are some simple instructions for making one yourself)
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Decorative tape or felt (optional)

Method

  1. Cut off the bottom half of the bottle, using the craft knife to make the first incision.
  2. Take the top half of the bottle and decorate the cut edge with tape or felt. (This isn’t strictly necessary, but gives the bottle a little more support and softens the cut edge.)
  3. Tie a length of string or wool to your pom pom, then tie the other end to the neck of the bottle (just under the lid). And you’re done. Simple.

14. A rocket piggy bank

A plastic bottle rocket piggy bank

Not only is this out-of-this-world piggy bank a great way to teach your kids about savings, but it’s a brilliant toy too. Perfect for (rocket) fueling their imaginations.

You will need

  • A medium-sized, coloured or white plastic bottle – we used a shampoo bottle (alternatively use a clear bottle and give it a couple of coats of paint using poster paint)
  • Coloured card
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • PVA glue
  • Black permanent marker
  • (Optional) a small plastic funnel – if you have one – is great for the top of the rocket, but you can also make a cone from card.

Method

  1. Take the coloured card and use the scissors to cut out circles to use as the portholes of the rocket (try drawing round a two-pence piece).
  2. Then cut out two ‘fins’ for the rocket – leave a rectangular tab at the end of each fin which you can fold and use to attach the fin to the rocket.
  3. If you’re not using a funnel for the top, create a cone out of card by cutting out a circle, then cutting a slit from the outer edge of the circle to the centre. You can then bend it around into a cone of the correct diameter. To stick it on, snip small 0.5cm slits all around the bottom of the cone and then fold the little flaps you’ve created into the middle. This creates a surface you can stick to the top of the bottle using glue.
  4. Use the craft knife to cut out a slot in the bottle, just below the top, which is wide and long enough to fit coins through.
  5. Stick on the cardboard portholes in a line under the money slot.
  6. Take the fins and stick them onto either side of the bottle.
  7. Now it’s time to add all the fine details with your marker pen. Then you’re ready to get saving!

15. A plastic bottle jet pack

A plastic bottle jet pack

Your kids will be ready to blast off on their next adventure with this super cool, space-age jet pack. It’s amazing what you can do with plastic bottles and some tin foil!

You will need

  • 2 large plastic bottles (remove the tops)
  • 1 piece of cardboard (the width of the two bottles when they are laid side by side)
  • Red and orange felt or tissue paper
  • Grey duct tape
  • PVA glue or double sided sticky tape
  • Scissors 
  • Tin foil

Method

  1. Cover the plastic bottles and the piece of cardboard with tin foil.
  2. Strap the bottles side by side using the grey duct tape.
  3. Attach the bottles to the cardboard with glue (alternatively if you can get it, double sided tape works well here).
  4. Cut the felt or tissue paper into flame shapes then glue or use tape to stick the flames into the open mouths of the two bottles.
  5. To make the straps, take a long length of duct tape, attach to the edge of the cardboard (as pictured) and bring it round to form a loop long enough to make the strap (it should only touch the cardboard on the side the bottles are strapped to. Where the duct tape doesn’t touch the cardboard, fold it in two along its length, so it sticks to itself and it’s half its original width. (Alternatively you can make the straps from string or ribbon and make holes in the cardboard to attach the ends.)
  6. Tell your kids to get ready for take off!

16. A sponge holder

Plastic bottle upcycled as a sponge holder

Of course, we couldn’t do a crafting post like this without a cleaning idea thrown in. So here’s a super simple one to finish up.

You will need

  • A medium-sized plastic bottle
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • (Optional) any decorations you like

Method

  1. Cut the plastic bottle about a third of the way up, using the craft knife to make the initial incision.
  2. Make sure the edges are neat and add any decorations you fancy (we kept ours plain and simple).
  3. Pop it next to the sink and add a sponge. You’re all done.

Want yet more sustainable craft ideas?

If these plastic bottle craft ideas have left you wanting more, why not take a look at our brilliant upcycling ideas for your garden? Or if you want a proper challenge, you could take on our DIY ladder shelf.

Originally published