Budget Gift Wrapping with Recycled Materials

This year I decided to go all-out wrapping my Christmas gifts. I was willing to spend a lot of time on the packaging, but I wasn’t up for dumping a lot of money into something that ultimately would be destined for the garbage. My solution? Adding fancy embellishments to packages wrapped in recycled materials! Want to get this look yourself? Here are some tips for an elegant wrapping job on a next-to-nothing budget!

Here is an actual breakdown of the materials it took to wrap all of the gifts pictured here:

  • Cardboard boxes, on hand
  • Newspaper, on hand
  • Paper grocery bags, on hand
  • Yarn scraps, on hand
  • Wire-edged ribbon (3 1/2 rolls), $3.50
  • Jingle bells, $1.50
  • Curling ribbon (2 different widths), $2.00
  • Gift tags, $1.00

Of course, if you dig into your stash for things like ribbon and gift tags (make ’em from paper scraps!), you can shave the cost of your wrapping down to practically nothing.  Even if you have to go out and purchase embellishments, you can get this look for less than the cost of a single roll of fancy wrapping paper!

Step One: Recycled Packaging

Reycled Cardboard Boxes

As I was standing in the gift wrapping aisle selecting my supplies, I knew I couldn’t justify buying boxes when I throw boxes away every day! Digging into my recycling bin, I found recycled food packaging and other boxes in a great selection of sizes perfect for everything in my to-wrap pile.

Newspaper for gift wrapping

I wrapped the boxes using both paper grocery bags and recycled newspaper. The secret to getting a grown-up look when wrapping with newspaper is to look for pages with lots of small text and very few headlines or pictures, like classified ads or stock market reports.

Step Two: Embellish!

Now it’s time for the fun part: decorating the packages! Getting a fancy look probably isn’t as hard as you think. Let’s look at how I embellished my gifts.

First, I chose a color scheme. I wanted something non-traditional, so I went with blue, green, and purple, with some metallic touches. When choosing a color scheme, try to keep it to just 2 or 3 different colors in order to make the whole pile look like a collection that belongs together.

gifts embellished with ribbon and jingle bells

Some of my favorites are the ones with big bows and jingle bells. By experimenting with different kinds of bows, I got three different looks with the same technique. The jingle bells are tied together with curling ribbon, then hot glued into place under the big bows.

Need help tying your bows?  Check out these links:

Gift embellished with scrap yarn

This package was one of the simplest to wrap. First I wrapped it lengthwise with a piece of wide ribbon, which is taped into place on the bottom side of the package. Then I wrapped it with lengths of scrap yarn tied into a simple bow. The spacing of the yarn is kept even by taping the strands on the bottom side of the package as well.

Unlike some other wrapping techniques, this one doesn’t have a bow that will crush, so it will stack nicely and travels well!

Gift embellished with ribbon and yarn

For a little variety, I also combined the yarn wrapping technique with a big bow made out of wire-edged ribbon. Mixing and matching different ways of embellishing will help to visually tie all of the gifts together under the tree!

Gift with handmade ornament embellishment

Here, a simple criss-cross of polka dotted ribbon is dressed up with a bundle of curling ribbon and a handmade ornament. The ornament is like a bonus gift!

Gift embellished with curling ribbon

Even just curling ribbon is enough to make a package look fancy!  This package is embellished with curling ribbon in two different widths and several different colors and finishes to give it variety and interest.

Overall, I am extremely happy with how my gifts turned out.  I can’t wait for Christmas Day so that I can see everyone’s faces when they get a glimpse of the fancy, inexpensive, eco-friendly wrappings!