Gift wrapping ideas using recycled materials

It’s that time of year – I love the idea of beautifully wrapped gifts but confess it’s not my natural forte. Did you know that experts estimate that paper waste over Christmas is equivalent to 5-12 million litres of biofuel – enough to power a bus to go to the moon 20 times (source – friends of the earth). That’s a LOT of wrapping paper. What’s more it is often not suitable for recycling “Wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated and/or contains non-paper additives such as gold and silver coloured shapes, glitter, plastics etc which cannot be recycled” (recycle now)

This year I have set myself a challenge to wrap parcels with everyday household items.

use what you have, DIY gift wrap

Gift wrapping ideas using recycled materials


Brown paper is soon transformed into unique wrapping, draw on your own design, add some cut out shapes, finish with ribbon.

Briwn paper wrapping
Newspaper or magazines, use as sheets of paper or convert them into gift bags

paper wrapping of gifts
Maps – I’m kicking myself for recycling my road atlas (the page I use regularly had become unreadable). I’ve stitched a few pages of a street atlas together in order to wrap my brothers gift.


T Towels – perfect for cookbooks don’t you think?!

T Towel gift wrapping

Scarves, I’ve hemmed some silk to gift wrap furoshik  style (Japanese style, video here)

furoshik - gift wrapping with silk scarf

You could easily whip up a pull cord bag instead.

Fabric drawstring bag

Former clothes as bottle bags – this one is made from a shirt sleeve. The tutorial is here, it’s a very quick sew for quirky fun wrapping.

DIY Bottle bag


Cellophane – great for edible gifts. Keep the cellophane from flowers, give it a suitable clean and there you go:)

Cellophane wrapping - biscotti

Cereal boxes transformed into gift bags, find the tutorial to make them here.



Lastly don’t forget gift tags – there is nothing worse than hunting round for a scribbled note on the wrapping paper!!  I love using luggage labels, they are super cute and ready-made.

Luggage tag

Alternatively make your own gift tags from last years Christmas cards. Here’s mine from a few years ago, with a how to make your own here.

Upcycled Gift Tags


Short of brown paper, pens, luggage labels? Check out Eurooffice for a variety of stationery supplies. Plus they are running daily giveaways in the run up to Christmas. This post was sponsored by Eurooffice.







11 thoughts on “Gift wrapping ideas using recycled materials”

  1. Great ideas here Vicky. I always save and reuse paper every year – my family think I’d dead tight but I think it just makes sense, I’ve not brought wrapping paper in years! This year most of our gifts are wrapping in the white packing paper that came with a load of ikea furniture we bought in October. There was paper between each piece of wood, it’s think but I have enough to double it up and with red ribbon and some paper serviette flowers I’ve made I am pretty pleased with how they look.
    Next year we are unlikely to have had another ikea shop so I will definitely bear some of your ideas in mind.

  2. You’ve inspired me! I have often wrapped with brown paper for the aesthetic of it (plus i love doing my own prints on top) and even though I have my printing stuff I was going to jack it in this year citing exhaustion but OMG that’s a lot of waste! So I’m going to get my thinking cap on about what I could use. I have a feeling i have some old chinese caligraphy scraps somewhere which would be awesome…if I can ever find them!

  3. I always think wrapping paper is such a waste, especially as, like you say, it often can’t be recycled. You’ve got some great ideas here, they will look fab under your tree! 🙂

  4. I like using brown paper and raffia or I’ve made pompoms from wool scraps. For small gifts I’ve used a4 printer paper with a home made (potato) tree stamp. For next year I’m going to try and make gift boxes from old Christmas Cards.
    I love your use of shirt sleeves for giving bottles in.
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas X


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