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Recycled gift wrap

My 7 fave ways to wrap presents using recycled materials

by Cybele
Golly gosh, now that our tree is decorated and gifts have been made, I’m officially more organised for Christmas than I’ve ever been before. Think I better pinch myself to check I’m not dreaming. I just have the gift wrapping to do, but that’s always been my favourite part.
When I was a little girl, I used to love watching my dad wrap presents. His fingers danced, flattening out the paper with a precise flick, centring the gift with a quick measurement, some decisive folds, a couple of dabs of tape and snips of string and the masterpiece was finished. He had learned the art in the land of the gift wrapping masters.
The Japanese could origami and wrap the Sydney Opera house with their eyes closed, my dad reckoned. He’d lived in Japan during the seventies, working as a Naval Architect. It was a time that redirected the course of his soul.
After he died, I read his travel diary and giggled as the young bachelor described his run ins with various women as, ‘good vibrations’ or ‘the vibe’s not so good with…’, but it was the idea of meditating while creating something beautiful that really captivated him.
Unlike his paper art teachers Dad always used recycled paper wherever he could. If he received a gift he’d open it with the greatest of care and press the paper under his Big Book of Sailing until needed.
I have tried to do the same. The problem with recycling whole sheets of gift paper is that you always run out and inevitably have a tear in the centre of the sheet, so over the years I’ve been seeking ways around this and have come up with the following, but I’m always on the look out for more ideas, so I’d love to hear yours.Recycled paper gift wrap

1. Shopping bag gift wrap

Recycled paper gift wrap
You will need: paper shopping bags, paint, sponge and a cotton reel or wine cork (to use as a stamp).
To make gift wrap: cut the panels of the bag out, avoiding any branding. Squeeze paint into sponge and press wine cork stamp into sponge to get an even coverage of paint. When stamping the paper, give the stamp a twist for a cleaner edge circle.Recycled paper gift wrap

2. Wrapping with cloth

Recycled paper gift wrap
Okay, so this isn’t paper. However, it is recycled, because I used a pre-loved white cotton square to make a handkerchief and stamped it with silver fabric paint the same way I did for the shopping bag gift wrap.
You can use scarves, tea towels, bags or pillowcases.

3. Star stamped recycled paper

recycled gift wrap
Because my shopping bag supply wasn’t meeting demand, I went and bought a giant roll of recycled craft paper for next to nix and it has been wrapping presents all year and is still going strong.
For the gift wrap you will need: roll of craft paper, star stencil and paint brush or sponge and potato (or sweet potato!)  and some paint. Perhaps you can recruit a small person for the task… (a sponge paintbrush is a bit easier for them)
Recycled paper gift wrapTo make gift wrap: If you’re using a potato stamp follow the printing instructions for the shopping bag gift wrap at the top of the post. If you’re using a stencil just make sure you give the underside a wipe in-between painting.
Recycled paper gift wrap

4. Using fresh or dried flowers, plants and berries

Recycled paper gift wrapKeep this one simple and let nature do the work for you. Plain paper and simple twine are a marvellous backdrop for these natural beauties. However, I did intend to put a star on the top of my little fern Christmas tree, but I forgot. Baby brain or just my mad-scientist-self?Recycled paper gift wrap

5. A strip of recycled gift wrap

Recycled paper gift wrap
This is one of my favourites, because it’s a great way to use pre-loved gift wrap and it’s easy to cut around any holes or sticky tape tears.
To make gift wrap you will need: recycled brown paper, a strip of pre-loved gift wrap, newspaper, fabric or sheet music (I picked up the music books in a thrift store for 20c each. Winning!)
Recycled paper gift wrap

6. Old map wrapping paperRecycled paper gift wrap

Using maps as wrapping paper is another favourite of mine. Maps date pretty quickly, so it’s nice to give them another lease on life and if you’re lucky you can use a map that has meaning for the lucky recpient. I used up all my old city guides and  travel maps, but found a whole lot of old topographical maps at the thrift store.

Recycled paper gift wrap7. Shells, beads or buttons and butchers’ paper

Recycled paper gift wrapOur vegetables come wrapped in butchers’ paper and I’ve been finding fun ways to reuse it, because I can’t help myself. It’s great for little people to draw on as well as wrapping paper.
String or a simple ribbon decorated with pretty bits and bobs you have lying around the house or garden. These were shells we collected on a recent trip to the beach. Thank you nature for providing the holes!
If you need some more gift wrap inspiration, the gorgeous Lisa from The Red Thread has done some gift wrapping video tutorials


What are your favourite gift wrapping tricks?

About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. oh they all look so pretty! I am so completely disorganised this year, I just can’t get it together, hoping for some last minute motivation over the weekend : ) Thanks for the great wrapping tips! x Chard

  2. There is something fun about a midnight wrap-athon! So long as you have enough sticky tape. I ran out one year – oops!
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas x

  3. Oh, these are all so beautiful!
    So interesting that your dad spent time in Japan. I lived there from the mid 90’s to the early noughties. It would’ve been fascinating to compare notes with him.

  4. These are gorgeous! I’d love to have my gifts wrapped like this under the tree. I’m bookmarking this page for birthday presents and Christmas presents next year.

  5. Your wrapping looks so pretty. I’m going to start saving our gifted wrapping paper, and start using recycled wrapping paper when our current stash runs out.

  6. Awesome! Looks so good!! I blogged about my theme wrapping this week as well!

  7. We usually use kids’ paintings but occasionally we run out. (I know, how could you possibly run out of artwork to reuse, but sometimes we do). So I’ll know what to do next time it happens.

  8. Love the back story to recycled gift wrap and love the idea of meditating while creating something beautiful. Gift wrapping is almost a gift in itself for me – I get to purge some of my inner perfectionist, release some of my creativity and love on some people at the same time. Great ideas x

  9. I love these ideas! I always reuse gift bags, but I love these upcycling ideas for paper. I really love the brown paper ones. Probably a silly question, but where do you buy the recycled brown paper from? I’ve not been much into crafts, but now that I’m a SAHM I can see it will soon become my new obsession. I’m definitely going to the salvos and getting some sheet music and old books to use.

    • Good point. I should’ve mentioned where you can buy it! Officeworks is where I bought mine for about $5 for 15m, but I’m told you can also find them at Target and Kmart in the craft sections. I hope this helps and happy crafting adventures x

  10. Gorgeous wrapping ideas. I want to be the person who does this sort of gift wrapping, but somewhere along the line, I run out of time, and never get to be this creative. But these are like mini works of art – too pretty too open.

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