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If you are not so talented to create awesome DIY Christmas gifts, then why not try something else to add that little personal sparkle that makes your gifts extra special? Upcycled DIY gift wrap is just an opportunity, but it is perfect for those of you who want to try something cool, easy and savvy this season, using collectibles and items from around the house.

upcycled diy gift wrapping collectiblesToday I am super excited to share with you exactly what kind of items and leftovers I collect. This habit helped me create some of the most charming gift wrappings and greeting cards I have ever given. Plus I am always prepared; save a lot of money; I’m getting more and more creative.   

Thinking Outside of The Box

Or in my case – the gift bag. The gift bag from the local stationary shop is something that I started avoiding a year ago. Don’t get me wrong, gift bags are beautiful and comfortable (especially when in a hurry to throw a gift inside and give it to the recipient). They come in so many sizes that you can always find the most suitable one.

BUT I’ve always found them very impersonal. The same patterns, the same design. Quite boring. And quite expensive for their purpose.

Easy Way To Make It Personalized

I am definitely not that crafty person who is a guru in sophisticated handmade projects. But I always try to make a gift personal and thoughtful. So I found my way to personalize my presents whenever I want, with no efforts at all– DIY greeting card plus a cute handmade gift wrapping accompany my presents.

I go for easy and quick gift-wrappings and smart techniques. Easy {I’ll show you how} and handmade are my keywords.

Why Upcycled DIY Gift Wrap?

Giving new life to the wrapping paper of your last Christmas gift is cool and savvy. And don’t worry – it doesn’t make you stingy.  It makes you creative.

Here is everything that I collect and put in my gift wrapping bin (throughout the whole year) in order to create easy and quick upcycled DIY gift wrap :

# 1 Gift-Wrapping Paper & Decoration That You’ve Once Received

Upcycling the wrapping paper is one of my favorite things. Don’t toss away all the wrapping paper, ribbons and additional decoration that once covered other gifts. Of course, the decision to throw out a package paper cover depends on their condition. Moreover, the shiny (laminated) paper and the cellophane are not recyclable.


Sometimes tearing off the paper is inevitable. Sometimes the place where you opened a gift wasn’t appropriate to say “Hey, please keep the wrapping paper for me”. But when being at home, it’s just fine.

Never store scratched and torn parts of the paper. These are useless or at least when upcycled it would not look appealing for the gift recipient.  I cut the part which is good for upcycling, roll it (or fold it) and put it in the storage bin for later use.

The upcycled gift wrapping paper is gorgeous in 3 ways:

– you have a wrapping paper for the next gift occasions so you can be ready for any last-minute gift occasions;

– if the paper has some special pattern, you can use this pattern on a greeting card or gift tag or simplyly glue it on a plain color wrapping paper (by cutting out the patterns)on a plain color wrapping paper (by cutting out the patterns)

– saving whatever bits aren’t destroyed let you use them to make thank you card to the person who gave the gift (with that specific gift-wrapping paper).

The wrapping paper has so many other usages.

Paper flower made of old map

Paper flower made of old map – found on We Heart It

Shred it and use it as a filler in packages (when your gift is fragile or smaller than the box); make paper flowers (for the 1st wedding paper anniversary); use when scrapbooking ; make collages with a great effect (kids love it); repurpose it into a beautiful gift accessory or a handmade card detail. If you have some beautiful paper scraps consider gluing them down on the front of a plain folded card. With the upcoming holidays, Christmassy designated paper leftovers will do great work.

Another use of the old wrapping paper is making Christmas ornaments. The holiday season is just beginning so with the right materials you have a great chance to create a beautiful festive ornament to give as a gift or to commemorate this Christmas.

Old magazines Christmas ornament

Old magazines Christmas ornament via Makezine

If you are a fan of gift bags anyway (I admit, they are perfect in some cases), you can always do a handmade upcycled DIY gift bag and you’ll be on the personalization path again.

So I stopped throwing out the gift wraps. I carefully unwrap the gifts that I receive during the year and then…start creating. Easy, remember?

#2 Gift Bags

The gift bags are usually patterned beautifully. Cut the upper edges and the bottom and now you have a beautiful wrapping paper ready for the next gift occasion. It is good for packaging a box, especially if it fits the size. This is because the paper has edges already (which is the worse part) and the paper is quite sturdy. But sturdiness makes any old gift bags perfect for paper weaving (which means to cut the paper into strips and weave with it – this is how to paper weave).

weaving paper gift wrapping

Weaving paper gift wrapping by Lamberts Lately

# 3 Cardboard Boxes

Like shoe boxes, small electronic devices, appliances, or just a box you’ve once received as a gift package. Keep the ones that are in good condition and use them from year to year. Save space by storing small ones in larger ones. Use gift wrapping paper ( try # 1 for this purpose) to actually wrap them and give a new festive look. These are good for non-shaped gifts (like a scarf, piece of clothing, etc.), gift boxes (obviously) and complex gifts (that consist of more than 1 item).

#4 Toy Packaging 

toys packaging recycling cut outs

Cut outs from old toys packagings

You know that toy packagings are always printed with Disney princesses or cute cartoon characters, fantastic colorish pictures, nice flowerish pattern… so I cut out the patterns or the whole images and I have cute details for kiddo’s gifts and greeting cards.

# 5 Toilet Paper Rolls

toilet paper rolls gift tags

Toilet paper rolls gift tags

Wow, I realize that I probably sound like a thrifty mom who is collecting almost everything. When you reveal the  charm of the upcycled DIY gift wrap, you’ll become exactly the same. The toilet paper rolls (of course empty and only the rolls) could be  very useful (there are many ways to upcycle them but here’s a list of my favorite hacks). Don’t imagine piles of toilet paper rolls! For the gift wrapping, you need only a few – maybe 3-4, not more. In the following series DIY Christmas Gift Project: Handmade Gift Wrapping  I will show you exactly how to use them! Your homework, for now, is to collect 3-4 of them and follow my Gift Wrapping project.

# 6 Organza Jewelry Bags

organza gift bags repurposedSometimes when I buy or receive jewelry, it comes in a beautiful organza bag. I don’t throw it out. Being honest, I collect everything organza (love it!) for later use (it is a gorgeous element for greeting cards and gift tags as it’s very easy to be affixed on a cardboard with double-sided tape).

# 7 Flower Bouquet Ornaments And Decorations

The flowers from a lavish flower bouquet may die soon after the occasion. But the ornaments may live a second life. Any small novelty items that you’ve saved from a bouquet can be used to decorate a gift package as they vary to suit the tastes of individual recipients or the event being celebrated. Small bows, beads, wooden ornaments (I love those super cute tiny wooden ladybugs), cute baskets – everything can be recycled. As long as you store them in the right way, keeping them in a safe, not letting the bows loose their volume and shape.

# 8 Nature Inspiration 

gift wrapping inspired by nature

Gift wrapping inspired by nature – by Shannon Kirsten

Green is trendy. Handmade is trendy, too. So the combination of both is something that many people appreciate even more. Keep some shells and sea stars from your beach holiday, small stones from your last trip, pine cones, chestnuts and even dried tree leaves to decorate a gift. Inspired by the Mother Nature. You never know which upcycled DIY gift idea you’ll fall into and want to remake, so having few of these nature treasuries might be useful at some point.

#9 Buttons

Buttons are great for crafting. Button-stamped gift wrap is fun to make. There are so many and so cute button packaging ideas.

giftwrapping with buttons

Cute gift-wrapping with buttons – by Wrappily

Affixing buttons to a cardboard with double-sided tape (or a cork) is easy as a game. Forming a shape with the buttons is a cute and elegant way to ‘picture’ something meaningful. Sewing them on a textured paper (even with no sewing skills) is quite achievable. Threading them on baker’s twine or raffia is a big hit. Only your (or maybe other crafters) imagination is your limit.

# 10  Lace

This traditional material (used quite frequently on flower bouquets) adds a nice fragile and feminine touch, especially for wedding gifts. White and ivory are good basic colors to keep on hand. It fits great with simple brown paper. The lace sticks well with double-sided tape and looks extremely elegant. It always adds a vintage look or a shabby chick, so if this is what you are going after, don’t throw the lace leftovers.

lace gift wrapping

Lace gift wrapping by Papermart

Another way to use lace for upcycled DIY gift wrap is to actually create a lace looking wrap paper with a very simple technique – apply the lace on a plain paper, painting over with a paint  roller with a contrast color and then remove the lace. (it works with doilies, too).

A gift that is wholly covered in fabric lace may sound too much, but it looks amazing if done right.  This will definitely make your gift stand out and make it perfect for the fashionista in your life!

elegant gift wrapped in fancy fabric lace

Elegant gift wrapped in fancy fabric lace – by A Beautiful Mess

# 11  Color Paper Leftovers

When I use only the first half of A4 sheet of plain or patterned paper, I don’t throw the other half. I don’t throw any leftovers at all. Even the small pieces. Or when a piece of gift-wrapping paper left, I keep it for later use.

# 12 Magazine Ads 

Recycled paper bows by magazine ads

Check tutorial here

Flip through a magazine or your favorite shop catalog and choose fun ads to use as wrapping paper. Out of context, these ads can make for great conversation pieces. If you know someone who is celebrity obsessed you can rip out a few pages from old tabloids and wrap up their gift with their favorite star. You can even cut out some flowerish details to glue them on greeting cards or plain wrapping paper. Just saying. The last that may happen to your magazine is to create a weaving paper (I mentioned this in # 1) or a handmade paper bow (check tutorial here)

 # 13 Wall Paper Leftovers

wallpaper gift wrapping

Gift-wrapping ideas with wallpaper leftovers by The Enchanted Home

I love the patterns of the wallpapers. Elegant, funny, vintage – there’s a huge variety. Upcycling wallpaper leftovers is smart. The paper itself is extremely good for easy and smooth folding. It is often textured so it gives a little bit of 3D look. Along with all the creative ways to repurpose wallpaper leftovers, upcycling  into beautiful gift wrap or greeting card or a gift tag is something to bear in mind.

 The Best Collectible: Inspirational Ideas for Upcycled DIY Gift Wrap

Inspiration and knowledge are everything. I mean it. It’s not being crafty or skillful. I know people who aren’t afraid of gift wrapping by themselves and despite the rough edges and not even folds, their gift wrap makes me smile and makes me feel special into their eyes. Because attitude matters in our busy lives. So my best advice for you is to collect inspirational ideas. If you collect the ideas that truly impressed you, they will be always there for you.

For a beginner upcycled DIY gift wrap enthusiast, it’s a good strategy to separate the ideas into 2 groups – easy techniques (for the ideas you know that you’ll be able to implement) and things to try (for the time you feel ready to upgrade your skills with some new more difficult and sophisticated ideas).

The best place to find inspiration is definitely … Pinterest (follow my Pinterest inspiration here). If you haven’t heard of it, I will try to explain in my words. It is the greatest image search engine so far. Creating an account and boards (something like image folders that keep specific category images organized in one place) give you an endless source of inspiration. If you find an interesting image, image tutorial, infographic  or a blog post, you can save it (it is called pin) on your board and you will have it on your personal account. Ready to be read and applied whenever you want. It’s absolutely magical! And so addictive. Once you try Pinterest, you’ll use it forever.

Other things to consider repurposing – old CDs, old maps, old photo films, scrabble tiles

 So you see, many things that lay around your house can be upcycled. Many leftovers which destiny was the garbage bin now could be reused. Being honest, you can find all these materials (as these are exactly materials) for any scrapbooking stationary shop. But why spending extra money on something that you already have (I am sure you have at least one gift bag lying in the closet).  I hope these tips help you rethink your gift wrapping budget, encourage you to give attention to personalization and inspire you to make the best ever gift package –  the upcycled DIY gift wrap.

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