If we were to tell you that you can transform used paper cups into garlands, plant vases, gift boxes, or even popsicles, what would you think? We’ve collected 20 amazing ways you can turn your leftover paper cups into beautiful DIY projects.

One plain paper cup, endless possibilities!

Paper cups. We use them; we throw them away. It’s a vicious cycle we can’t escape that easily. And, even if we’d want to recycle the paper cup in which we bought our favorite coffee this morning, the problem is the cup cannot be recycled.

How’s that possible? It’s just paper, right? Well, not exactly. Most paper cups are made from cardboard, but are coated in plastic, which keeps the drink warm and prevents them from leaking. The extra layer also makes the cup non-recyclable, since it’s extremely difficult to separate the cardboard from the plastic.

But, that’s not all. Every year, 50 billion cups end in the landfills in the U.S. alone. To put that into perspective, if you’d put end to end all those paper cups it will be enough to make five round trips to the Moon.

The good news is that U.K. based inventor, Martin Myerscough, has found a solution to make the paper cup recyclable. He has developed a cup with a plastic liner that can be easily separated from the paper shell during the recycling process.

However, until the cup will be sold worldwide, there’s something we can do to help try to save the planet: upcycling.

Simply put, upcycling is the process of converting our potential junk into beautiful, useful objects. For example, you can turn empty Pringles cans into candle holders or you can repurpose an old t-shirt into a new bag. With a little imagination, and some crafting skills, you can turn almost any boring, broken, or useless object into a piece of art or home decoration.

As we already saw, building a pile of paper cups (used or new) isn’t that much of a challenge. But, finding new, alternative ways to use them? Well, that sounds a bit more complicated.

Unless, of course, you are happening to stumble upon this post! If you don’t know what to do with all those leftovers paper cups, or if there’s a pile of paper cups threatening to take over your pantry, here are some creative ideas we are eager to share with you!

So, are you ready for some DIY upcycling project? Ahead, check out 20 insanely awesome craft projects you can make with paper cups.

1.     Paper cup gift box


Photo: papermashblog.com

There are moments when, even though you planned a beautiful gift ahead for your friend/sister/mother/boyfriend, you forgot to buy a gift box. It happens to the best of us. The good news is that you can use a paper cup to make a lovely gift box. All you need is a cup, scissors or a cutter, and some items for décor. Start by cutting of the rim. Now, make equally spaced vertical cuts. Put the gift within the cup and fold the vertical cuts inwards. Seal the top with a decorative item, such as a ribbon.

Of course, this is just one way to do it. You could, for example, punch an eyelet plier through each section to make the cup look even prettier and “gift box” material.

2.     Paper cup planter


Photo: grandmotherwren.com

There’s one great way you can mix your love for coffee with your love for flowers. No, we’re not talking about having a cup of coffee while admiring your garden, but about using your cup as a planter.

Here’s how you can do it: poke holes in the bottom of the cup. Add soil – we recommend you to use half composted soil and half seed-starting mix. The compost should be on the bottom and the seed-starting soil should be on the top to allow the seedlings to grow.

3.     Paper cup flower vases


Photo: Pinterest.com

Another great use for paper cups is converting them into a beautiful and environmentally friendly flower vase. See, you don’t need an MBA in pottery to make this vase. All you need is a paper cup, some dye, and imagination. We guarantee, a colorful vase like this will brighten anyone’s day.

4.     Paper cup garland


Photo: minted.com

Instead of spending money of holidays or parties decorations, you can make a beautiful garland out of a stack of paper cups.

Clean and dry the cups. Paint them if they are white or mix and match a stack of colorful paper cups. Poke a hole in the bottom of each cup, in the center, and stick a thin twine through the holes. Line up the cup seams and tape together each set of two cups. It’s an easy craft and you will have a lot of fun doing it.

5.     Paper cup lights


Photo: trendhunterstatic.com

This craft is similar to the paper cut garland. Poke a hole in the bottom of each cup, in the center. Grab a string of Christmas lights and stick each light into the hole. The cup will act like a lampshade for each light on the string. So simple, yet so very charming!

6.     Paper cups sphere lamp


Photo: instructables.com

Decorating your dream house can be utterly expensive. There’s a seemingly endless list of furniture items, rugs, wall arts, curtains, and so on that is draining your wallet. A great way to cut down on part of those expenses is by trying some DIY home décor ideas. Like, converting a stack of used paper cups into a sphere lamp.

While you don’t need some crazy crafting skills do make this lamp, you will need some rudimentary wiring skills to figure out how to make this lamp light. If you are not sure of your skills, it’s better to call a professional electrician to wire the lamp.

More information on how to make a cup sphere lamp, you can find it here.

7.     Paper cup pencil holder


Photo: howtonestforless.com

Why spend money on a pencil holder when you can make one yourself out of a paper coffee cup? Decorate the cup with Washi tape or paint a whimsical design on a plain cup. Your imagination is the final frontier.

8.     Paper cup cupcakes


Photo: photobucket.com

It may sound a bit weird, but it’s possible to bake cupcakes in an eight ounce paper cup. Start by cleaning the cup. Butter the inside of the cup and dust with flour. Pour the cake batter only half way up the mug. Bake at 350 °F. Enjoy the cupcake. Reuse the cup.

9.     Paper cup mini piñata


Photo: blog.chickabug.com

Do you remember how fun and exciting it was to break open a piñata when you were a kid and the joy of discovering all those delicious treats hidden inside it? You could give your guests or your kids this pleasure by crafting tiny adorable piñatas out of paper cones. It will take only few minutes to assembly a piñata. Start by snipping the tip of each cone, than stick a ribbon with a knot at one end though each cup. Fill one cone with candy. Line up the cup seams and tape together each set of two cups. Paint the cones or add decorative ribbons. Simple and so adorable!

10.  Paper cup scoop



Save on garden utensils. Wash and dry your paper cup and use it as a scoop for garden dirt or pet food.

11.  Paper cup party popper


Photo: redtedart.com

If you are anything like us, you probably love a quick and easy craft, where the chances of shattering are practically zero and there’s so much fun. Paper cup party poppers are that kind of craft project. Here’s how to make one.

Clean and dry your paper cup. Using scissors or a cutter, cut the bottom of the cup. Cut the tip of a balloon. Knot and stretch the balloon tip over the bottom of your cup. You can also tape it to make it more secure. Fill with pom poms or confetti and have fun!

12.  Paper cup crown



You won’t believe how easy it is to make your little ones feel like a prince or princess without spending money of fancy tiaras. Just grab a used paper cup – rinse and dry it. Make equally spaced vertical cuts. Glue colorful beads at the end of every cut. Poke two holes at the base and stick a head band through the holes. There you have it – a great and fun accessory for your kids or your garden party.

13.  Paper cup popsicles


Photos: seriouseats.com

Whenever you are in the mood for popsicles, grab all the ingredients: Popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, and some paper cups and make your own. Yes, you heard us right, you can make paper cups popsicles. Here’s how it works.

Mix all the ingredients (yogurt and berries for us) and pour the mix into the cups. Cut the foil into squares and cover the top of the cups. With a knife, cut a small hole in the center of each foil square and place a Popsicle stick into each slit. Freeze it for about 7 hours. Once frozen, take off the aluminum foil, peel the paper cup, and enjoy.

14.  Paper cup bunnies decoration



Here’s a fun and easy craft project you can try on your spare time. Take one, two, three or how many cups you want and paint the exterior. Cut simple ears from a scrapbook paper and a triangle pink paper for the nose. Glue them on the cup, draw the eyes and maybe a mouth, and your adorable paper cup bunnies are ready. Place them on your desk and prepare for waves of admiration and curiosity.

15.  Paper cup daisies


Photo: factorydirectcraft.com

To brighten your room during cold winter days, you can make paper cup daisies. This is a great way to have a little fun with a DIY project and bring spring flowers inside your home, at least until you can find real flowers.

Paint the bottom of the cup and wait until it dries. Cut the cup from the top to the base to create petals. Flatten the petals. Glue the flower to a stick and put it in your paper cup vase.

16.  Paper cup shakers


Photo: kixceral.com

You won’t believe how easy it is to create your last minute party decoration. Using two paper cups, you can make a shaker to make some noise on New Year’s Eve or any other party or celebration. What you will have to do is fill one paper cup halfway full with beans, rice, or jingle bells. Use hot glue to stick the two cups together. Paint your shaker and glue a crepe paper strip at the top to make it even more festive.

It’s a fun project that you’ll have a lot of fun creating it.

17.  Paper cup Pilgrim hats


Photo: pinlavie.com

Party hats are obviously a must and these Thanksgiving paper cup pilgrim hats are so beautiful and easy to make. All you need to cut the top of the cups, glue it to a small plate, and add the details.

18.  Paper cup votive candles



We don’t know about you, but we love to decorate our room and bathroom with votive candles. So, in order to save some money and have a little fun withal, we make our own paper cup votive candles.

You can find more details about how to make paper cup votive candles here.

19.  Paper cup baskets



One of our favorite DIYs of this post are these paper cup baskets. Tiny and adorable, these baskets can really pump up your Easter party. All you have to do is wrap tissue paper around the cup and then wrap a ribbon around. Make a handle out of paper and glue it to the cap. Fill the baskets with treats, like chocolates, fruits, or jelly beans.

20.  Paper cup ice shot glasses


Photo: intimateweddings.com

These paper cup ice shot glasses are pretty awesome and we kind want a stack for every party. And, they’re not the difficult to craft either. For this project, you will need 3 ounce and 1 ounce paper cups, duct tape, and small rocks. Pour your beverage of choice about 2/3 into the larger cup. Place the smaller cup inside and put a small stone inside it to make it level up with the rim of the larger cup. Place a piece of duct tape over the two cups and place the cups inside the freezer. After about 7 hours, take it out, fill the small cup with hot water, let it sit for about 30 seconds, and carefully remove the inner cup. Everyone will love your ice shot glasses, we guarantee it!

As you can see, there’s no limit to what you can do with used paper cups. From DIY flower vases or baskets to funny hats and lamps, they can be turned into unique pieces of home decoration. With imagination and some basic crafting skills, you can turn any used paper cup into a small treasure.

What other ways of upcycling paper cuts do you know? Let us know in the comment section below.