Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is

In 1910, Father’s Day was celebrated for the first time at the Spokane YMCA in Washington State. The occasion was conceived by Sonora Louise Smart Dodd to honour her father and war veteran William Jackson Smart, who raised six children as a single parent. For 60 years, Dodd pushed for official recognition of the event and in 1972, US President Richard Nixon signed a Congressional resolution declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. Meant to be a tribute to fatherhood and paternal bonds, it has prompted celebrations across the globe ever since. In light of the pandemic, gifting can be a challenge due to delivery delays and the safety of it all.

But it’s not too late to make something unique right in your home. It’s also a special way of contributing to the global conversation around sustainability by reducing landfill waste. So, we invite five upcycling experts to share gifting ideas that you can try.

Do it neat

“You want to ensure that your project reflects a little bit of skill and effort and doesn’t end up looking like a basic craft project,” asserts Meghna Nayak, owner of Kolkata’s LataSita, an ethical and zero-waste label that upcycles old sarees.

Bottle lamp: Use your dad’s empty favourite alcohol bottle as a stand for the lamp. A hole needs to be drilled at the bottom half for the wiring to be inserted. If you don’t know how to do this and set up the bulb and wiring, consult an electrician.

Bottle lamp made by Nayak
Bottle lamp made by Nayak

Apron: Cut the sleeves off a men’s shirt, remove the collar and make neat armholes. The buttoned side will be the front of your apron while the leftover fabric can be used to make neck and side straps, as well as pocket patches and tea towels. “If you’re inexperienced with sewing, choose a checked shirt and use the lines as guides for the measurements,” Nayak advises.

apron by CAMVIN on YouTube
apron by CAMVIN on YouTube

Coupon book: Collect and arrange old paper, and staple at one end. On each sheet/coupon write things you can do for your dad — giving a head massage or taking over a chore that is his responsibility.

Colour correct


“Upcycled gifting is not just an economical option but also a personalised one,” reckons Kolkata-based Sreya Saha, who specialises in upcycled, customised apparel. As funky shoes might not be every dad’s cup of tea, a painted T-shirt or jacket with a personal element works best — like the logo of his favourite football club. But you can’t just pick up fabric paints and get on to the job, Saha warns. “Mix the paint in fabric medium to avoid cracks. And paint a white patch before drawing, so that the pencil lines are visible,” she shares.

Green thinking

A shoe planter
A shoe planter

According to city-based Madhvi Khaitan Pittie, co-founder of Workshop Q, an eco-product manufacturing company, upcycled gifts are pleasantly surprising, which is why it’s never too late to give it a go.

Shoe planters: There is no such thing as too many plants. Use dad’s old shoe as a pot for your next plant. Fill soil in the toe area first and proceed towards the heel. Sow your seeds and help him nurture them.


Tie placemats: Make a patchwork of your dad’s old ties by arranging them in a chevron or criss-cross pattern. Sew it to secure and laminate it.

Go vintage


Sometimes you can make memories out of the mundane and that’s what Mumbai-based Akanksha Kaila Akashi of Refash, a platform for upcycled brands, aims for with gifting.

Tea cup candles: Pick a vintage tea cup — China will give the best feel. Melt wax in the centre and insert fragrances if needed, and finally add the wick.


Family puzzle: Take an old puzzle and stick your family picture on it. Cut pieces according to form and play a game with your dad.

New pot

Fabric paper diary: In a blender, add fabric strips and water. Then, add newspaper pieces. After pouring the mixture out, use a screen to scoop out the pulp. Use a towel to soak excess water and iron to flatten the paper. Cut, trim and bind the sheets together to make a diary.

Use and show


Meenakshi Sharma, founder of Use Me Works which is a Delhi-based one-stop-shop for upcycling, suggests gifts that are sure to please the eye and are handy, too.

Denim organiser by Use Me Works
Denim organiser by Use Me Works

Denim organiser: Cut along the zipper line of the jeans to split it into two parts. Lay them vertically and sew the middle, so, you get to see four pockets. You can add extra pockets from another denim pair if you want more space to add stuff into the organiser. Use the extra strips of fabric to make handles above the belt area so that it can be put to hang.

An upcycled bottle made by participants at a workshop conducted by Sharma
An upcycled bottle made by participants at a workshop conducted by Sharma

Lively bottle: Give character to your spare wine bottle by first painting it, wrapping a strip of fabric across and bind the cork with jute strings. Add oval eyes cut out of paper to make a face.

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