Saved from the recycling – beautiful ways to wrap gifts

Did you know you don’t need to buy recycled wrapping paper? You can use your own recycling to make wrapping paper.

Note: if you want some in depth information about wrapping gifts in sustainable ways, check out my sustainable gift wrap course.

upcycled gift wrap

DIY recycled wrapping paper

1. Maps

Let’s be honest, these days paper maps are rarely used. Those once essential tools have now become relics of the past. But many of us still have them lingering around the place. Instead of chucking them in the recycling during your next round of decluttering, you could use them to as your own recycled wrapping paper. They make an attractive and unusual wrapping paper!

2. Kids artwork and colouring in pages recycled wrapping are perfect for gifts to family and other kids.

When my kids were younger, I used a lot of the artwork they brought home from nursery to wraps gifts for their friends. It is quite sweet because the kids then feel like they made something for their friend. In turn the friend feels that the wrapping paper was personalised for them!

3. Toilet roll tubes

Your first thought for packaging up gifts isn’t usually a toilet roll tube. However if you have a small gift, they can make a really attractive little upcycled gift wrap/ package. You fold the ends in like I did in this post about a Valentines day gift one year: Toilet rolls and homemade chocolate

4. Paper shopping bags

Obviously it would be far better to refuse the bag and bring your shopping home in a reusable carrier bag. However, even though I can’t remember the last time I came home with a paper bag, I still have them in my house. This because they have been given to me by other people.

If you have some, you could either use the shopping bag as is, as a gift bag or cut it up to use as wrapping paper.

5. Magazines make an attractive recycled wrapping paper option

Magazines can make attractive wrapping paper. If you have something a bit bigger than the sizes of the pages to wrap up use sticky tape to make them into a larger sheet. I don’t get any magazines and depending on how far down your eco-thrifty journey you are, you might not get any either. But if you don’t have any, you could raid other people’s stashes.

6. Glass jars

Glass jars and bottles make a great container for all kinds of gifts. 5 ideas to get you started are:

  • Homemade bath salts
  • The dry ingredients to make a cake or cookies. Layer up the ingredients, so that it looks pretty. Remember to include the recipe too!
  • Homemade goodies like biscuits, brownies or truffles
  • Vanilla extract – make your own by adding vanilla bean pods to vodka. If it isn’t going to be ready in time, you could still give the gift with instructions to wait a while to use it!
  • Soap – could be hand soap or shampoo bars!

7. Brown paper is an easy recycled wrapping paper

Brown paper can often be found lurking in packages delivered from online purchases and is an easy quick win recycled wrapping paper. Tie it up with ribbon or string. From far too much browsing on Pinterest recently the latest trend seems to be to tuck a sprig of seasonal leaves behind the bow. It does look really nice and is easy to do if you have some greenery nearby.

Although it is tempting don’t add decorations like paint, stickers and glitter as then the paper won’t be recyclable any more. This is because these things usually contain plastic.

8. Newspapers

One year I wrapped all my kids gifts in newspapers. We used to get a free newspaper through the door, but we don’t get it anymore and I don’t buy any. So we don’t have usually have any newspapers to wrap anything in. If you do have some though, newspaper sheets make a good sized upcycled gift wrap. Again make it more attractive by adding tying a ribbon or piece of string around it. Make sure to save and reuse the ribbon and string afterwards

9. Cardboard boxes

We do a fair amount of shopping online these days and most things come delivered in a cardboard box. Sometimes we order a gift to get sent straight to the recipient. Receiving and opening the cardboard box is the surprise. Again, if we get a gift delivered to our house in a cardboard box, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to unbox it and then wrap it up!

Most delivery boxes don’t come with gifts in them though and most gifts don’t come in delivered cardboard boxes. If you can match a gift and a spare box size wise, then wrapping it up with a ribbon will make it look perfectly gift like!

10. Padded envelopes

A used envelope will have things like an address and a stamp on it, but cover these up with stickers and it will make a great gift wrap for a small gift like a book. I did say not to add stickers to the brown paper. However if the envelope already has labels and stamps on it, it is unlikely to be recyclable anyway.

For more ways to wrap up gifts without the waste, check out my post here: Beautiful eco friendly ways to wrap up gifts.