Gift Wrap Ideas Using Recycled Materials

Reuse paper grocery bags and fabric scraps to make your gift wrapping unique and beautiful. Learn how to make a paper tassel, fabric tape and more!

I love gift giving! But one thing I think I love even more than surprising a loved one with a perfect gift is wrapping the gifts! I find a lot of joy in the small details of life and wrapping gifts definitely falls under that category. While it’s something that can totally be skipped, if you enjoy making packages oh-so-fun with extra little details keep reading. I’ve got some fun ideas on how you can use materials you likely already have on hand to make your gift wrapping shine.

Since I sew a ton, I end up with so many fabric scraps after each project. If you are also a sewist or happen to have some extra fabric laying around, a great way to use it up is to transform it into tape! It’s only takes a minute to make a ton of tape strips. Just smooth out your fabric (you might need to give it a quick press with an iron first) and apply strips of double-sided tape to the wrong side, or back side of the fabric. Use your hands to press down firmly on the tape to make sure it’s adhered.

Then use scissors to cut the tape into long strips. I like to store it like this and then cut it down to size when I’m using it. It can be used in place of clear tape when you’re wrapping gifts and it adds such a lovely texture and pop of color to the wrapping.

If you happen to have a rotary cutter and acrylic ruler handy, this is my preferred method of cutting the tape into long strips because it’s quick and yields nice, straight lines. But if you don’t, no worries, a sharp pair of scissors will work just fine too.

Since we often have our groceries delivered, we end up with a surplus of paper grocery bags. If you have a bunch of them too you can recycle them into gift wrap this holiday season. Cut them down into large sheets for wrapping packages and when you’re done, use the side panels (or any piece that’s cut into a rectangle about 4″ x 7″ or so) to create a paper tassel. Use regular scissors to cut a fringe along the long side of the paper rectangle as shown above. I happen to have fringe scissors so I used those, but again, not necessary they just speed things up a bit. Cut down the handle on the grocery bag to create a small loop for your tassel. Then begin to roll it up and secure the top of the tassel with a bit of glue from a glue stick. Or you can use a small piece of the fabric tape you just made.

Another fun thing I like to add to brown paper bag wrapped packages are office label color coding stickers. You know, the circle stickers you might have in your junk drawer that are left over from a garage sale? They make excellent polka pots on packages and instantly turn a paper bag into patterned gift wrap.

Lastly, another fun detail I like to add is a simple one. Grab a scrap piece of cardstock and sketch out an uppercase letter. Then use scissors to cut just inside your pencil lines to create a fun monogram that can be added to the outside of the gift. If you’re a perfectionist, you can also print out a large letter on cardstick and cut it out, but I personally prefer the more organic look of doing it by hand and wasting a little less paper.

What materials do you reuse when you’re wrapping gifts? I’d love to hear your ideas!


  1. I love wrapping gifts as much as giving them too! I love using left over wrapping paper (prints) to create bands around a gift wrapped with plain brown paper, black butcher paper, or white butcher paper. It gives it a pop of color and gets rid of those small pieces of left over wrap that just seems to accumulate in my shoebox storage containers. I love using natural elements (a snip of pine or holly) instead of a bow. I’ve also used brown butcher paper and a bouquet of cheap unique faux flowers from Walmart instead of a bow to dress up a package. I love making my own gift tags. Instead of expensive cardstock I save postcards for advertising that come in the mail and cover them with pretty textured cardstock and hand letter my “to and from” on them. The postcards that come in the mail are heavy paper and glue adheres to them really well. I just love the creative aspect of recycle and reuse to make beautiful gift presentations!

  2. I love this idea! Wrapping gifts is so much fun! Thank you for sharing your creative ideas. I will definitely be using some of these ideas! Who knew it could be so easy to have gorgeous wrappings!?!?

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