My 7 fave ways to wrap presents using recycled materials
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.
1. Shopping bag 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.
2. Wrapping with cloth
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
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)
To 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.
4. Using fresh or dried flowers, plants and berries
Keep 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?
5. A strip of recycled 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!)
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.
Our 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?