How can I reuse or recycle birthday/Christmas wrapping paper?

Gift wrapped in wrapping paperIt’s John’s birthday today and while between the two of us, we’re not big gift givers, he’s sure to receive presents from family and friends.

Back when John and I first met and still gave gifts, he once wrapped my birthday present in newspapers and elastic bands, with a spoon for a “bow”, but his friends and family are more traditional when it comes to gift wrapping.

So what can we do with the gift wrap once its cast aside? Even with careful opening, it might not be in big enough pieces to use for any substantial present wrapping in the future so what are the alternatives?

And with Christmas around the corner too, any special ideas for reusing or recycling festive Christmas wrapping paper?

(Photo by shanii)

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43 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle birthday/Christmas wrapping paper?”


  1. amm says:

    Give it to children to make collages/christmas cards with.

  2. My grandfather keeps it in a cupboard, and when he comes to use it, he irons it out! It helps the environment, true, but it is quite odd…

  3. Tim says:

    Wrap other presents with it, or throw it in the paper bin.

  4. Jessica says:

    Shread the pretty ones and use it for filler in your other packages. Cut it into strips, wind it around old toilet paper tubes/paper towel tubes filled with candy.

  5. Lauren says:

    I usually save that for collage material and make cards for the occasions that are depicted on the wrapping.

    If it’s a big enough piece then it can make a book cover or be used in bookbinding (end sheet, part of a fancy signature, or a cover if it’s laminated/sealed).

  6. I really like your idea. I am also trying to get people to recycle and reuse. It is very important that we save the world. I think that by doing your ideas we will really save trees-and money. Great Blog!

  7. Petra says:

    Use it to make gift tags you don’t need that much at all

  8. Sack36 says:

    Origami, paper mache, hand made papers, wall paper.

  9. Sack36 says:

    Oh yes, and as for the wrapping suggestions: For my niece’s baby shower I wrapped a baby outfit in a baby blanket. For my grade school age grand nieces and nephews instead of wrapping the gift I give the child a (recycled) card with a clue that leads to a card with a clue that leads to … you get the picture. At the end, the present sits there unwrapped and the child has had a fun time getting to it. My friend and I have two special gift bags we exchange each year. I’ve also created stuff-sacks for sleeping bags to use as the gift wrap of something else. I make origami boxes for small gifts and gift baskets for larger gifts and leave some gifts unwrapped but decorated festively. I haven’t actually purchased gift wrap in 30 years!

  10. Jesse says:

    Keep it in the garage or under the sink. Whenever you need to clean windows, crumpled up wrapping paper (or newspaper) instead of paper towels, it leaves absolutely no streak, you’ll be amazed.

  11. Megan says:

    Decoupage it onto shapes cut out of cardboard or wood shapes from the craft store (or anything else you can think of) to make holiday decorations. You can make tree ornaments at christmas, a mobile for a baby, picture frames for any occasion – there are tons of possiblities! Mixing and matching different papers makes it even more interesting.

  12. caro says:

    I had a picture frame with no picture… so used pretty wrap paper as the picture…

    also i have wrapped the matte frame of a picture – it turned out rather nicely.

  13. Shanii says:

    Thanks for mentioning my name for my work used :) Appreciated!

  14. NiKKi says:

    THROW IT THE HELL AWAY YOU FUCKING TREE HUGGERS!!! LET IT THE FUCK GO. THE WORLD HASNT DIED YET. TREES GO BACK. O YEAH MAYBE YOU COULD GO WRAP A TREE WITH IT SINCE YOU GUYS ARE SO OBSESSIVE.

    FUCK YOU

    CHOP THE TREE DOWN

  15. Just someone says:

    Nikki, you are an idiot. Why bother coming on a recycling website just to write that? Why are you even looking at a recycling site?

    What a loser!

  16. Lauren I says:

    Seriously, how would you come across a recycling website by accident..? Strange girl.

    I’d never heard that window-cleaning trick before… Anyway, i generally give presents just in a “posh” plastic bag (often the ones i’ve received presents in!), sometimes i tie a ribbon or similar to make it look vaguely presentable. I think depending on the receiver, people aren’t as bothered as we think.

  17. Puncie says:

    I have found that if I can cut it into 6×6 in. squares and stack it in a reused Keenex box and use as toilet tissue, it makes taking a dump so festive. The metalics can be abrasive.

  18. Kim says:

    Pretending that toilet paper comment doesn’t exist for a minute, my entire extended family just doesn’t use wrapping paper. We use gift bags, and trade them around every year. Same thing for birthdays, whatever. We all have a stash of old gift bags we just give to someone else and get new old ones back in their place. Some of them are probably as old as I am *lol* No one cares cause everyone does it.

    • Susan says:

      The Japanese raised this kind of gift wrapping with fabrics to an art form in the -oh- 1600s give or take. They used twisting, folding and knotting techniques to make gift wrappings from a square of cloth, also some very functional bags. I discovered furoshiki about a year ago, and was so taken with the idea I built a website based on it (called aboutfuroshiki.com). I love that your family has wrappings that are as old as some of you. You must have great memories attached to some of them, and great stories to tell younger family members.

  19. Wen Rou says:

    I used to make paper beads out of old wrapping paper or cut strips and make lucky stars.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dobbys Boss and Nikki: What is wrong with people taking 2 minutes to find ways to make the world better? You are obviously uneducated. Go find a “How Can I Be As Destructive As Possible?” website and let people try to reduce the enormous amount of waste we produce. As for the reusing gift bag idea I think it is a very good one. Not only do you not have to throw away a ton of wrapping paper for every occasion but it can be fun to remember all the gifts that were given in each bag.

  21. Marilyn says:

    This is an idea I have used since my first born’s baby shower. (~12 years)
    If the piece of wrapping paper is large enough, I cut it to fit a drawer and use as a liner. My husband and son also enjoy it when I spray their favorite scent onto the paper.
    The liners are changed each year.

    Another idea is that we give our friends fruit from our father-in-law’s trees (he offers it since he cant eat it all himself)
    We wrap these little bundles with the wrapping paper the family just used.
    This is an immediate way to reuse it.
    Also, your consciousness is contagious. Our family used to snicker when we suggested not throwing out the bag of paper, instead we could reuse it; but now, a brother in law used comic strips with ribbon this year rather than buy another roll of wrapping paper.

  22. Claudia says:

    Nikki and all you other obscene writers:

    Profanity is the only way small minds can express themselves forcefully.

  23. susan says:

    if you’ve got kids about get them to make a large collage and then use pieces of it to make thank you cards or gidt tags for next year

  24. huh? says:

    Why do you guys hug trees? Whose going to love the cactus? Go hug a cactus. By the way, when you go get your ID card at the tree hugger ID card store, do you have to turn in your sense of humor as payment?

  25. Shaun says:

    1) Persuade gift recipients to accept used wrapping paper.

    2) Persuade gift recipients to accept gifts wrapped in used newspaper.

    Browse this web page for more information.

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-should-i-consider-when-buying-wrapping-paper.htm

    Saving our trees which absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale and support our existence is far, far more important than receiving gifts wrapped in fancy paper. Think about it. It is the thought that counts when you give a gift and if that doesn’t work for you, you could also say that it’s the gift that counts and not what it’s wrapped in.

  26. blah says:

    Crumple up the paper and use it to keep your tall boots in shape when not in use.

  27. love green says:

    Nikki and all you other obscene writers one thing good for all of you “GO TO HELL” ha..ha..ha

  28. nelly says:

    USe it to wrap your own presents, recycle it (obviously) or if its got a cute pattern or a story frame it! Like when i was small i got this rly cute wrapping paper with rhymes on and now its framed it looks rly cute!

  29. HuntingWabbits says:

    If it’s really pretty paper, I’ll open it carefully and fold it up to wrap another gift. I once saw a lady wrap a gift with a knit scarf, and the scarf had one of those yarn flower things as a bow and it was gorgeous. I suppose the same could be done with a knit hat if you tie it up. You can glue it to stiff paper for a nice pattern. The origami thing is a cute idea. If you have small scraps, you could use those as papier-mache for an interesting project. You could cover a lamp with it, or to just generally decorate anything.

  30. Javabean says:

    How about carefully picking apart an envelope and using it as a template to make new ones out of the wrapping paper? You could make them with the pattern on the outside for greeting cards, or on the inside for a festive surprise in the mail.

  31. Esther says:

    When my kids were little my family would send gifts in the mail in beautiful gift bags. I have been reusing them since they were 5 and 6, and they are now 24 and 25. Some of the gift bags were sent by my grandparents and other family members that passed away years ago. I’ve kept their handwritten tags on them too. It’s almost like they are still here with us, gifting us year after year.

  32. Kimi Chronis says:

    Hello. I am the owner and designer of Fish Lips Paper Designs, a small company that designs and prints 100% recycled gift wrap. On our website, we have a great list of ways to re-use our stylish and modern git wrap papers. I hope you all find them helpful!

    http://www.fishlipspaperdesigns.com/top10.html

  33. Someone says:

    I love all the ideas! One of the things I like to do is make lapped beads out if by cutting in into stops and rapping it around a straw then glue the end. Next cut it off the straw once I made a bunch of these and made a Christmas necklas with them all!

  34. Uluska says:

    Use as background for scrap booking.



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