Green Giving: 4 New Uses For Old Wrapping Paper

christmas presents covered with wrapping paper

christmas presents covered with wrapping paper

By Julia Marchand

We all love the holiday season for the joy, warmth and excitement that it brings. But as with most things, there’s one aspect we don’t love—the waste that gift giving creates. Midday on Christmas in many American households, the floor is littered with tangled ribbon, discarded boxes and heaps of wrinkled wrapping paper. Although you may have tried to give gifts in alternative, eco-friendly wrapping (like fabric, wooden boxes or vintage tins), most of the presents you receive this year will probably be handed over in regular old wrapping paper.

Since a lot of gift wrap is not recyclable, you may be seeking a way to keep from tossing it in the trash. Below are four ideas to put that paper to good use with some quick and easy upcycling projects. So when you open up your fancy new frock or cute boots this year, set the wrapping aside for reuse. Start by ironing it and then let your creativity run wild.

How to Iron Wrapping Paper

Heat your iron to its lowest setting. Remove any pieces of tape from the paper while you wait. When the iron is heated, place your wrapping paper down on your ironing board. Flatten it as much as possible with your hands first and put a piece of fabric on top before ironing gently. Don’t press too hard as this may make any rips bigger. Your paper should flatten nicely. It won’t be perfect, but it will be good enough for photo matting, scrapbooking and adding interest to home decor!

Mat Framed Pictures or Prints

Although it’s not real photo matting, wrapping paper can serve as an interesting backdrop to fill the space between a print and the frame around it. Rather than buying matting and worrying about cutting it to the right size or having something professionally framed, reuse your wrapping paper!

Start by taking apart the frame. Place your wrapping paper face up on a table and arrange the print on top in the appropriate place. Use double-sided tape or dots of glue to fix the print in place. Put the glass from the front of the frame on top of your wrapping paper and print, and center them using a ruler or yardstick. Then trace around the glass onto the paper.

Remove the glass and set it aside. Cut out the paper on your lines and then put it in the frame! Your newly “matted” art piece is ready to hang!

mat framed print

Make Scrapbook Pages

The scrapbooking aisle at craft stores is always packed with fun, bright papers, ready to adorn baby books and wedding albums. But prices are outrageous and reusing wrapping paper is a much more environmentally friendly way to highlight memories.

Use larger paper pieces as the background for pages and smaller trimmings as borders and decor elements. Try cutting out letters or simple shapes to embellish your scrapbook. You’ll be surprised to find out that no one can really tell the difference between this and the card stock that’s intentionally made for scrapbooking!

scrapbook page

Add Interest to Home Decor

Is there some small piece of furniture or item around your house that could use a little enhancement? Spruce it up with your reused wrapping paper! Paint Mod Podge onto the surface evenly (read the directions first to make sure it will adhere paper to the surface you’re considering) and press the paper firmly down.

For areas like the inside of a record player, that’s all you’ll have to do! If you’re papering the top of a side table or something that receives a lot of use, you might also want to add some more layers of Mod Podge. Let layers dry between coats and reapply as many times as necessary!

home decor

Reuse for More Gift-Wrapping!

If you’re only able to salvage smaller pieces of wrapping paper (maybe because a child did some excessive ripping in all their excitement), you can also reuse it for more gift-wrapping! Cut out the first letter of a gift recipient’s name to tape to the front of their present, or put all of your paper scraps through a shredder to create nesting paper to keep fragile gifts safe.

What other ideas do you have for putting used wrapping paper to use? There’s a good chance that with a little time and creativity you could turn the wrapping paper into a gift itself!

Julia Marchand writes for eBay about living an eco-friendly lifestyle. In addition to reusing wrapping paper, Julia does her holiday shopping and selling in the pre-owned woman’s clothing section (here) to make her holiday season greener.

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