Craft paper makes cheap, recyclable wrapping paper

I’ve finally accepted that I just can’t deal with wrapping paper. As much as I love beautifully-wrapped gifts, I can’t abide buying paper that’s meant simply to be ripped up and thrown away. I’ve used newspaper in the past, but it got rather messy and it felt less than festive.

This year, my solution was to buy an extra roll of white craft paper to use as wrapping. Not only is the paper recyclable, the all-white color scheme looks rather elegant. Having such a long roll of paper made wrapping even awkwardly-shaped gifts a snap, and whatever we don’t use (which will be most of the roll) will go straight into my daughter’s art easel.

Weekend project for the kids: let them loose on the paper (or the already-wrapped gifts) with markers and stamps. Custom wrapping paper and art project all in one!

Speaking or art projects — if you’ve got a few oversized pieces of kid art sitting around, use them to wrap gifts as well.

Any other gift-wrapping hacks out there?

Related: Sew simple gift bags out of sale fabric, and lose the wrapping paper for good


  1. Betty says

    Potato stamps! You can make them in star shapes, trees, whatever, and a holiday theme cookie cutter can make it even easier. Just cut a potato in half, carve your shape, dip in paint and stamp your plain wrapped package. The stamps can also adorn your gift tags. Brown paper looks good too.

    Another tip: my mom wrapped gifts in tea towels one year. I forget what the gifts were, but I still use the tea towels!

  2. margaret says

    These are some of the things we’ve used around here as wrapping paper: Tinfoil with a piece of velvet for a ribbon, calendar pages, grocery bags, and the glossy paper covers from hardback books.

    The standard gift wrap around here is the brown kraft paper, and then, since we usually have a lot of knitting and crocheting going on, we use yarn for ribbons.

  3. Katie A. says

    We did this with a big roll of brown paper this year. My 3 year old and 2 year old stamped and drew all over it with red and green. They thought it was great fun. And the presents look so cute wrapped and tied with raffia ribbon. Another big bonus is I only needed one roll to wrap everyones gifts and I got it for a buck at the dollar store.

  4. says

    Actually we make our own out of white tissue paper (you can get a pack of 400 sheets for $5 at Costco this time of year, or smaller packs at the Dollar Store) and food coloring.

    This is a rainy day project my mom started with us when we were kids in the 70’s and I’ve done it every year since.

    You simply fold the paper into something hand sized, dip it in water, then dip it in food coloring. Let it dry, unfold it, iron it (no water, low heat) and viola! You have some very artistic, fully recyclable, wrapping paper. AND you’ve done an art project with your kids (note: it’s messy, use lots of newspaper, but remember it’s just food coloring so it will fade/wash out!).

    You can check out examples of some of the stuff I made this past month here:
    (Note: these are in the pre-ironed stage. They look MUCH better after some of the wrinkles have been removed).

    If you want more details feel free to email me!

  5. CarolinaDivina says

    I use the inside of grocery bags and finger paint – yarn makes tape unnecessary – fun prject for the kids

  6. CJ says

    We’ve been using the white paper from our move. The plates, glasses, and other breakable stuff were all wrapped in plain white “news print” paper. Large pieces are wonderful for wrapping, and the paper is slightly absorbent, so markers and watercolors take nicely to it.

  7. says

    i, too, like using brown kraft paper. i knit, so i often use yarn scraps instead of ribbons to tie up gifts or affix tags.

    a cute tag idea i’ve used before is making a felt ornament. here’s an example of one i did for a friend’s son’s birthday:

    an idea i’ve stumbled across on the internet but haven’t used yet is this one which employs popsicle sticks as a gift tage:

  8. Alex says

    Prebaby, I had an annual Holiday Potatostampaganza where everyone made wrapping paper using various types of stamps on flattened grocery bags and brown lunch bags at our house. We’ve done the go to AAA to get free maps thing, but it seems wasteful now. My new trick is unraveling a mangy sweater to get yarn for tying up packages. I really like the way yarn looks with bright wrap.

  9. Betty says

    Save the tinfoil for the BBQ – it takes a lot of energy to make and can’t be recycled, so it’s not an enviro-friendly alternative to paper.

  10. says

    I did the white craft paper this year, too. I felt like I was cheaping out, but it turns out that it really does look classy! I’m pretty much in love with curling ribbon, so there’s a load of that on each gift, and the white paper looks super!

    Melissa, I really dig your paper! I’d love to learn how to do that, and I’m sure my girl would be excited about it. I tried to figure out how to email you, but it looks like I may be deficient. Would you mind doing a tutorial??

  11. says

    I’d be happy to do a tutorial! Might take til the weekend though as I am working full time and go home to a 16 month old (and a couple of older stepsons too, though they are a little more self sufficient!).

    As mentioned – stay tuned!


  12. Chakolate says

    If you don’t think newspaper is festive enough, you just weren’t using the right part – try wrapping your gift in the Sunday funnies. Fun and colorful, and easy. :-)

  13. says

    Brown kraft paper is my standard “go to” for wrapping paper because it is less processed than the white kraft paper. I like to customize it with stamps, but all that is needed is a pretty ribbon for a beautifully wrapped gift. I know someone who only uses fabric to wrap gifts with – talk about the perfect reusable wrapping material! This is a great idea for anyone with a large fabric stash. But a large investment if you need to buy fabric to wrap with.

  14. says

    I’ve done this for years. Plain paper + pretty ribbon + a nice tag = pretty gift. I started out this trend by doing as others have posted and making potato stamps. The only issue is that these heavier papers need more tape.

  15. mary s says

    I have a gift un-wrapping hack. I place a pair of wire cutters in my husbands xmas stocking so that they are handy for all of those insane wires that secure toys to their boxes. Rather than untwisting each one, we just snip the back of the box about ten times and voila!

  16. says

    Our parent’s used to buy those large brown paper rolls and let us loose with the box of Christmas stamps. We enjoyed making the paper and knew that since it was recyclable we could put it in the paper goods bin afterwards.

    We used the bits that didn’t get torn to shreds to make thank you cards afterwards. Our grandparent’s still have quite a few of the different years thank you cards we made.

    Can’t wait to do this with my boys, I’d let them loose on it like I do in the summer with tubes of paint, but its so cold. I’m not sure they are ready for indoor paint-a-thons yet ^-^

  17. Ticia says

    Two different ideas for indoor paint-a-thons:
    1. Paint in the bathtub in just diapers or underwear, then they’re already where they need to get washed.
    2. (this is what I do) cover the kitchen tabel with an old sheet or tablecloth and then paint on that. Throw the cloth in the washing machine and run the kids to the tub along with all the paint supplies. As the water warms they wash the stamps and paint brushes, and then once it’s warm you fill the tub up. This is great because it takes up a good hour of an otherwise very long cold winter morning. Or at least I’ve heard it gets cold in other places besides Texas.

  18. says

    My oldest started Kinder this year and I’ve been wondering what to do with all the paintings and drawings she has brought home. I think they’d make pretty neat gift wrap, especially as all the messy work has already been done at Kinder.