Stop. Do not buy a single roll of wrapping paper this holiday season. Even if you only spend $15 on wrapping paper this year, it’s a waste of money.
You can easily make your own wrapping paper using repurposed items from around your house. Here are 12 resources to make your own DIY holiday wrapping paper.
Fabric by the yard.
I was just at JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores buying fleece to sew mittens for my daughter. I couldn’t believe how cheap some of the fabric was – and I had a 50% off coupon!
Why not buy a few yards of festive cloth, redeem a JoAnn coupon, and use it to wrap presents? Simply tie your fabric-wrapped package up with a ribbon or string. Using fabric as wrapping paper works especially well with bulky gifts.
Poetry on paper.
Grab a brown paper bag and cut to the size you’ll need for your gift. Then choose a short phrase like, “kiss the cook” or “my heart is yours” and write it over and over on the paper. Make your handwriting consistent.
Every so often, bold the phrase so it stands out. Tie with ribbon or string for added effect. This technique works especially well for those with neat penmanship.
If you don’t want to cut up any of your own cookbooks, head to your local library’s book sale or a used bookstore. You can often find used cookbooks for $1 or less. This is a great idea if the gift you are giving is food-related.
I hate to recommend ripping up children’s books, but some of the bigger ones have pages full of incredible artwork that are large enough to wrap small gifts. Like the cookbooks, you can also find them for less then $1 each at used bookstores and library sales.
Maps are usually made out of sturdy paper, they are colorful, and they endow a sense of adventure to your gift. You can find maps in old travel magazines and thrift stores, or make the best of your AAA membership and stop by the nearest office, where maps are free!
Is the recipient a bookworm or puzzler? If so, visit Discovery Education, a site for free custom word jumbles that you can print out to wrap presents. You dictate how big the puzzle is (as large as 40 by 40 letters), which words you want mixed in, and how difficult you want it to be.
Flip through the pages for special photographs and displays. The pages that catch your eye will make your wrapped gift pop! Use a razor blade or single scissor blade to cut the pages out and then wrap.
Stamps and stickers.
Wrap gifts with turned-out brown paper bags, then decorate with stickers, stamps, ribbon, twine, buttons, glitter, doilies, string, old postcards, magazine cutouts, photographs, and whatever else you have up your sleeve.
First wrap your gift in newspaper or a turned-out brown paper bag. Then drag out your box of old photos – the ones you never sorted into a photo album – and pick a few. If you can group them into themes, that’s even better.
Cut out the faces or best parts of the photo, then use glue or double-sided tape to adhere to your gift. Voila! A very thoughtfully wrapped gift.
This is a slight twist on No. 8. This time, print photos on your home printer but use regular paper instead of photo paper, which is thick and hard to tape down.
For larger gifts, repeat the photo so it forms a matrix on one sheet. Check your photo printer settings to achieve this effect.
Old encyclopedias quickly get out-of-date when we have current and reliable online resources right at our fingertips. Pull that dusty tome from the shelf and use a razor blade or single scissor blade to neatly cut out as many pages as you need. Tape together to form large sheets.
Let your children loose on the wrapping paper. Give them large sheets of brown paper bags to decorate with whatever supplies they choose. Then use the paper to wrap gifts. Grandparents will especially enjoy this personal touch (and appreciate the “developing artist” that is your child).
Julia Scott founded the money-saving blog, BargainBabe.com.