Crafty Ways to Upcycle Your Holiday Wrappings

October 20, 2022

Crafty Ways to Upcycle Your Holiday Wrappings

Get Crafty With These Creative Ways to Reuse Holiday Wrapping Paper

A guest post by Eco Karen - the blog about eco-conscious life

Every year, it's estimated that millions of pounds of wrapping paper end up in landfills. While some types of wrapping paper like Wrappily are recyclable & compostable, most other brands of wrapping paper found in stores have mixed materials that make them a one-and-done experience before ending up in a landfill. The same applies to ribbons, bows, and other fixtures. Yet, wrapping paper is a part of the gift-giving experience, and creates a sense of excitement on holidays and special occasions.

Fortunately, you can reuse wrapping paper to turn it into a fun craft or decor to cut back on waste. Here are 12 creative ways to reuse wrapping paper and mitigate your carbon footprint:

Make gift tags

Gift Tags made of Wrapping Paper

It's never too early to think ahead to the next gift-giving season. Save last year's wrapping paper to make gift tags for the upcoming holiday, rather than purchasing more disposable tags from the store. Reuse gift wrapping paper by cutting out the unique patterns and shapes, attaching to card stock (or the back of upcycled holiday cards) to transform and upcycled gift wrap into gift tags! 

Pro tip: you can also use the covers from old holiday cards for the same purpose.

Rectangular Gift Tag Tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqK4a-luu9U 

Custom Shaped Gift Tag Tutorial with Templates: https://www.madeeveryday.com/tutorial-wrapping-paper-tags-with-free-printable-shapes/ 


Bookmarks - made with reused wrapping paper

There's an eternal struggle between those who dog-ear the pages of their books and the purists who refuse to fold. If you find yourself in the latter category, you can use your leftover wrapping paper to make bookmarks. Even better, you can give them as gifts in an attempt to convert your dog-earring friends.

Reuse an old cereal box to cut out the base of your bookmark. Then, glue wrapping paper around it to contain the cardboard. You can even reuse your ribbon by punching a hole at the top of the bookmark and stringing it through.

This craft is also a great way to reuse a gift bag that has tears or isn’t suited to repackage gifts in the future. As gift bags already have structure, you won’t even need to add cardboard. Make a traditional bookmark, or a simple page corner marker.

Book Corner Tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJBVPGUzUVc 

Make a photo frame, or just frame it

DIY Photo Frame with Reused Wrapping Paper

There are a few ways you can make a photo frame with reused wrapping paper. The first method follows the cereal box repurposing strategy listed above. Conversely, you can upcycle an old photo frame with your wrapping paper and some Mod Podge. This craft is a great way to use tissue paper or wrapping paper that’s crumpled or damaged.

Framing wrapping paper is a fun, seasonal decoration that's easy to throw together and offers a unique twist on traditional holiday decor. The festive patterns will spark memories of holidays gone by. 

Tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK_F79F8l48

Line plain bookshelves

Book Shelf Liner with Reused Wrapping Paper

Wallpaper is making a comeback in the world of interior design. Lining the back of a bookshelf is a fun way to add a pop of color that brings the room together.

Instead of wallpaper, try the same craft with your favorite gift wrap. Birthday balloons and festive snowmen might not suit your everyday decor, but those nicer matte and metallic papers can make a bold statement.

Tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vIDvzu_42c 

Dress up a bouquet of flowers

Reuse gift wrap to wrap a bouquet of flowers or make a basket!

When it comes to traditional gifts, fresh-cut flowers are a great way to say thank you, I love you, I'm sorry, and congratulations. Rather than adding to the landfill problem with new cellophane wrapping, elevate your bouquet by wrapping it in reused wrapping paper. 

For a fun spring or summer twist, put your bouquet in a homemade paper basket instead. This crafty way to reuse wrapping paper makes a great centerpiece for a picnic or event. 

Cut used wrapping paper into petals for DIY paper flowers

As a fun alternative that you can keep forever, use the leftover paper to make paper flowers. The crinkles in used wrapping paper create a nice, organic texture that brings the decor to life. These are also a great alternative to ribbons and bows.

You can find the first of three paper flower tutorials here

Paper Cones Christmas tree

Make a Paper Cone Christmas Tree

Paper cone Christmas trees are a fun craft for the holiday season. Use your old wrapping paper to make a bright, festive Christmas tree decoration to display throughout the holiday season.

This craft is kid-friendly and a great way for them to make gifts for friends and loved ones.

Video Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzZGKJqcAuE

Wrap books

Upcycle Wrapping Paper as Book Covers

Keeping books safe from harm is the purpose of a dust cover. Unfortunately, dust covers tend to bear the brunt of a book's existence, quickly falling apart to wear and tear. Whether you're trying to protect an old favorite or keeping textbooks pristine to re-sell, wrapping paper can help.

Cut the wrapping paper with an inch of excess space around the border of your book. Then, fold the paper around the cover and secure it in place with tape. 

You can even add a pocket to your book cover for extra storage!

Regular Book Cover Tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcbP1W1aaJg

Book Cover with Pockets Tutorial: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CSz7OaNBtVh/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 

Party Piñatas

Pinatas made with used tissue paper and upcycled gift wrap

Piñatas add fun to any type of party. If the idea of blindfolding your guests and giving them a bat doesn’t appeal, you can reuse wrapping paper and old ribbons to make a miniature party piñata. As you’re cutting the materials into small bits, wrinkles and tears don’t matter. This is also a great way to reuse old tissue paper. 

Check out this step-by-step piñata tutorial for inspiration. The miniature version makes a great, individual party favor. Replicate the experience by cutting a tab at the bottom, filling it with treats, taping it up, and attaching your reused ribbon so it opens with a quick pull.

You can also reuse wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows to make other party decor elements, like hats, garland, and cupcake toppers.

For more ideas, you can revisit this post: How to Create a Whole Party Theme with Just Wrapping Paper

Plantable Seed Bomb Easter Eggs

Reuse Tissue Paper and Compostable Gift Wrap to create Seed Bomb Easter Eggs

Use your uncoated wrapping paper and leftover tissue paper to make seed bomb Easter eggs as a fun, eco-friendly spring gift. This craft is a great alternative to candy Easter eggs or messy egg dye experiments.

If you can’t find all the eggs, there’s peace in knowing that you’re helping the environment rather than harming it. Everyone who finds their eggs gets the joy of planting them and watching them bloom!

Get the full tutorial here. 

Paper napkin pockets

Paper napkin holders made of reused wrapping paper

Bring your holiday meal to life with designer-inspired place settings. For this project, you can use your wrapping paper to create elegant napkin pockets to hold your napkins in place. You can also elevate this look with some simple origami to make your arrangement even more elegant.

Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNVElb6Q-ko 

Paper pinwheels

DIY Paper Pinwheels - Great idea to reuse old gift wrap

Paper pinwheels are a fun decor piece for any season and a simple craft to pass the time on a rainy day. All you need is your reused wrapping paper, metal brads, small dowel rods, and a tack or nail. Make your pinwheel double-sided by sticking two pieces of wrapping paper together with the decorated side facing outward.

Tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S13ah0yuT5A 

Make a Colorful Paper Kite

Colorful Paper Kite made with reused wrapping paper

Finally, use your wrapping paper to make a simple paper kite. This child-friendly craft will keep the kids busy for hours as they create, decorate, and fly their kites around outside. While these kites won't fly too high, they're great for catching a breeze in the backyard and make cute party decorations. Old ribbons and bows also make great additions to the tail of your paper kite.

Instructables Tutorial: https://www.instructables.com/DIY-Wrapping-Paper-Kite/

Siddharth Creation Video Tutorial: https://www.marthastewart.com/1112288/how-make-kite

Another Video Tutorial Optionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8JVAS8N2L4


 With these simple crafts, you can reuse your wrapping paper and take a more sustainable approach to the holidays. 

About the Author:

EcoKaren Photo

Karen is a proud mommy of 2 and the founder of Eco Karen - the blog about eco-conscious life. She loves everything that has to do with the natural/organic lifestyle and absolutely adores all things green. She enjoys writing, decorating, making cookies, and spending time outside with her family.


Looking for more ideas to upcycle your gift wrap? Check out the post: 20 Ways to Reuse Your Wrapping Paper and Ribbon if You Can't Recycle it (and even if you can!)