Milk Jug Decorative Window Crafts



We’re always looking for cheap or– better yet– free materials to craft with here, so we’ve played around with crafting all sorts of things out of those big plastic gallon milk jugs over the last couple of years. The type of plastic they are made from is pretty versatile as far as crafting goes. You can cut it easily with scissors, use hole punches on it, stick it with hot glue and best of all you can draw on it with permanent markers with great results due to it being semi-opaque and mildly textured on one side. We have two crafts here to show you. Before the kids got to doing these two crafts I had to prepare the plastic for them. All that was involved was washing out a couple of empty milk jugs like these:

Milk Jug Window Art

Milk Jug Window Art

Then I used a sturdy pair of scissors to cut out any flat side panels from the milk jug plastic. I wasn’t careful about the shapes I was cutting out. I just wanted to get as much area out of each jug as I could for them to draw on. All the left over bits just went right back in the recycling bin where the jugs had come from in the first place.

Milk Jug Window Art

If you have really little kids then you could cut them simple shapes to scribble colors on like hearts or flowers or circles etc, or even the letters of their name. My two girls are five and six years old, so they were fine to draw their own pictures and cut out their own shapes. Just make sure that you draw on the mildly textured side of the plastic (the outer side of the milk jug) as this will hold the colors better than the smooth side. The other great thing about this plastic is that it is transparent enough that you can trace pictures through it, so my two had fun tracing their favorite cartoon characters from the fronts of their books.

Milk Jug Window Art

Milk Jug Window Art

My five year old did a lovely large wild flower panel on one of the irregular shaped large side pieces that I had cut from one of the milk jugs, and my six year old made a collection of candies and treats that reminded me a lot of the illustrations from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. Once they had drawn the things they wanted, they cut them out using kid’s safety scissors and hole punched a little hole to hang them from.

Milk Jug Window Art

We hung them in the window for the light to shine through like little stained glass decorations using teeny suction cups from the Dollar Tree.

Milk Jug Window Art

My older daughter also used paper clips to make a long dangling display from her candy treat decorations, and I couldn’t resist making a couple myself too. Fun for all ages!

Milk Jug Window Art

Milk Jug Window Art

Milk Jug Butterflies

As well as our window decorations we also made some hanging butterflies with more of the milk jug plastic and some beads and pipe cleaners. These were to hang on a mobile for our baby that has since just arrived, but you could hang them anywhere.

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

Again, if you have younger kids, you could just cut out a butterfly shape and let them scribble their colors all over, or if you have older kids then they might prefer to draw their own butterflies or trace a more anatomically accurate butterfly to color.

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

I have included a pdf print out of three different anatomically correct butterflies that I drew a while back for a different art project, so anyone that wants to trace one can do so.

Here’s the PDF. Just click here and download and print.

I printed out these butterflies, cut them out and taped them to another piece of paper with a piece of milk jug plastic taped over the top, with the slightly textured side face up. I did this to make everything stay in place for the kids to color.

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

Then when they were done I drew the intricate black details with a fine line permanent marker for them. Older kids would be able to do this part themselves though. Then we pulled the colored butterflies off the paper they were taped to and cut them out with scissors. We also gave them a little fold in the middle to make the wings crease upwards a bit. All you need for the body are a few random beads and a pipe cleaner that has been bent in half.

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

Twist the bent end of the pipe cleaner and thread on a couple of the beads to one side to make the butterfly abdomen and thorax, then put your plastic milk jug wings in between the two bits of pipe cleaner and twist them together to keep the wings in place above the beaded body. Lastly you just need to thread both pipe cleaner ends through the bead that you have chosen for the head and then trim the ends to be the right length for antennae and curl them with your fingers.

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

Milk Jug Butterflies Craft

Make as many as you like and use the bare length of pipe cleaner on the opposite side of the wings to the beaded body to tie some string and hang your butterflies.

Here are ours hanging from the mobile that we made for our latest little girly. I hope she likes them.

Milk Jug Butterflies Mobile

There are so many things you could use this type of plastic for. Hopefully these two projects will serve as inspiration for many more ideas and lots more decorative fun!


About the author

Lindsey Boardman
Lindsey Boardman loves to share the messy art and crafting fun projects she concocts with the help of her two young daughters, her "filth wizards." She documents this fun on her personal blog Filth Wizardry.

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51 Responses to “Milk Jug Decorative Window Crafts”

  1. Now this is what I call a good idea. The only other use I saw in milk jugs was adding sand to them for weight lifting!

    • Safiyyah Mar 07 at 9:52 am Reply Reply

      Wow this look awesome! I can’t wait to try this with my girls.

  2. maryanne @ mama smiles Jun 30 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    Lindsey has so many amazing creative ideas! I especially love these butterflies!

  3. Sylvie Créative Jul 01 at 9:47 am Reply Reply

    Tried! Yours are so nice! Mines are OK 😉 Thanks a lot!

  4. Bernadette Jul 01 at 12:35 pm Reply Reply

    THOSE ARE AWESOME!!! I love love love the use of thematerial and the way you hung them with the paper clips. Love it!

  5. mama magic Jul 02 at 3:32 pm Reply Reply

    Wow!! Beautiful …and very creative. I’ve been wondering what to do with those gallon jugs since it was a habit collecting them for my winter sowing (now a past pastime).

  6. Mhairi Jul 04 at 8:36 am Reply Reply

    Not sure how it would go but if you cut the edge of the ilk jug and then did the butterfly the wings would be beautifully curved.
    I love this idea and so simple. What a great craft activity to do with children. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Swati Jul 07 at 3:12 am Reply Reply

    Love the idea! You might want to use black and white for the infant though – newborns respond better to big patterns in black/white than fine coloured designs.

  8. Tricia Jul 07 at 10:34 pm Reply Reply

    My three girls and I made these tonight. It was so quick, easy and fun! They turned out soooo cute!!! We will be making more of these I’m sure! Thank you for an unexpensive craft idea!

  9. Sarah Forhan Jul 12 at 4:47 pm Reply Reply

    I love the butterflies what a great craft idea!

  10. lollipops Jul 13 at 8:52 am Reply Reply

    What a creative way to look at things around your household. Having a fun time with the kids is as easy as finishing a jug of milk obviously. Thanks for inspiring many to spend time with the kids,even on a budget.

  11. eliane Jan 05 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    muito lindo !!!!

  12. Rose Souza Jan 05 at 1:24 pm Reply Reply

    lovely,  I liked it !!!!!!

  13. Theresa in Kitimat Jan 25 at 9:45 pm Reply Reply

    Your template for the butterflies is excellent. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Clara de Assis Apr 03 at 8:24 am Reply Reply

    Adorei, pratico.

  15. Georgia B Apr 29 at 10:24 am Reply Reply

    Love this. I’m going to do this. Thank you for putting these on here. XX’s

  16. Joyce May 05 at 3:05 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for the milk jug ideas. My daycare kids will love them.

  17. Dawn May 09 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    I just love the butterflies! Very creative.  

  18. genevieve Jun 01 at 12:20 am Reply Reply

    beautiful! Must get the the students in school to do them.

  19. Asha Dsouza Jun 03 at 10:09 am Reply Reply

    very beautiful butterfly , i love them all.. really wonderful art.. so cute…thanks for the idea…..

  20. gloria nickolis Jul 02 at 4:27 pm Reply Reply

    Unfortunately, the PDF file doesnt work for me! :( Great idea tho.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Jul 02 at 6:37 pm Reply Reply

      it does work. i just tried it.

      For some reason, the file is taking a long time to open up. We will be working on it to try to speed up it up. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. :)

  21. Elisa Aug 05 at 7:13 pm Reply Reply

    Does the permanent marker pens colour stay on the bottles? As I create art work with plastic bottles in the UK, but nothing stays on when I want to add colour, ie glass paint, acrylic paint, stray paint, felt tips :/.

  22. The Monko Mar 01 at 4:12 pm Reply Reply

    These are amazing and so pretty. Love them

  23. Susan d'Heursel Mar 22 at 7:40 am Reply Reply

    Love these ideas. Thanks for sharing, especially the butterfly templates as this saves so much time!

  24. Rosanna Apr 23 at 3:20 pm Reply Reply

    Mi piacerebbe seguire i vostri lavori ed avere delle notifiche. Grazie e nell’attesa distinti saluti.

  25. Mira May 05 at 12:28 am Reply Reply

    They are beautiful, how creative! Making some butterflies with my girls soon, thank you for sharing.

  26. Katherine Jul 26 at 8:28 pm Reply Reply

    What would happen if you tried to bake these would it turn out like shrink plastic or would it burn up I wonder?

  27. Nicole Apr 14 at 6:50 pm Reply Reply

    Great craft–thanks for the printouts! We made butterfly gardens by putting grass or moss in the bottom of clear containers and then putting the butterflies inside. Big hit!

  28. angee Jul 14 at 1:21 am Reply Reply

    Love this!! But when I go to cut them, the marker rubs off. Even after a day, the marker is coming off whenever I touch it. I tried washable and Sharpies and even pen. :(


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