Thrifty Living: 12 Creative, Thrifty Ways to Wrap Gifts

6 Dec

Here are my favorite creative and thrifty ways to wrap presents for the holidays. Have an idea? Add yours in the comments.

1. Stock up on thrifted tins. I always check out tins while thrifting and stock up for the holidays. For a quarter I can buy a unique way to wrap a gift that can then be reused and repurposed later.

2. Use colorful paper bags and printable gift tags. When I still worked at the library I did a whole lot of gift-giving: coworkers, office staff, friends and student aides all got gifts from me. The cheapest way to wrap these gifts turned out to be colorful paper bags and ribbon from the craft store plus printable gift tags that I made myself. This was the perfect way to distribute baked goods and they looked so cheerful. Free printable gift tags can be found all over the web, but my favorites are found here.

3. Wrap an ugly box collage-style. I bought a lovely necklace for my MIL one year and of course the only box I could find to put it in said something dumb on it. I used a page out of a magazine to cover the top of the box and glued origami paper to the sides and it was transformed. She ended up loving the box as much as the necklace.

4. Try fabric scraps and yarn. One year I ran out of wrapping paper altogether so I raided my fabric stash and found this vintage green cotton fabric I found while thrifting. I was able to secure this fabric with scotch tape even though it was a decently heavy weight.  Wrap as you would normally for wrapping paper, add some yarn, and you’re good to go.

5. Embellish a plain gift bag. I can’t remember if this bag was plain or if it had a logo in the middle, but either way it benefited from some scraps from my collage file.

6. Reuse a pretty jar. I save jars like this throughout the year because I like to give spiced nuts and candy at Christmas. If your jar is pretty enough, only a ribbon is needed, though you can always paint the lid.

7. Use sheet music instead of wrapping paper. I have lots of musician friends so I had the idea to wrap their gifts in sheet music. I happened to have sheet music lying around, so I made copies of it specifically to use for wrapping. Collage paper, doilies, and some pink yarn finished it off.

8. Wrap with tissue paper and add a colorful bow. Many times the tissue paper is lovely enough to use as wrapping. I keep a few spools of colorful ribbon on hand for wrapping. I get it when it goes on clearance at the craft store.

9. Use a small piece of fancy paper for accent. A very creative friend of mine made me a necklace and sent it to me in this lovely packaging. I like how she decorated a plain box by adding a strip of fancy paper around it. I bet the sheet of paper was pricey, but using it sparingly makes it last.

10. Reuse a gift bag. I saved so many gift bags from our baby showers that I finally had to go through our gift bags and get rid of some. I didn’t throw them out, though! I donated them to Goodwill. Speaking of, you can find all sorts of lovely gift bags at good will for cheap.

11. Just add a huge bow. Sometimes one large statement is all you need.

12. Add a creative card. I don’t recommend giving tequila for every occasion, but in this case a lime made the perfect card.

27 Responses to “Thrifty Living: 12 Creative, Thrifty Ways to Wrap Gifts”

  1. thelondonflowerlover at 5:02 am #

    So so so much fun, we love this

  2. ihavetriedit at 5:23 am #

    I love the sheet music idea!

    • LittleBig at 5:01 pm #

      It always looks so fancy. Highly recommended.

  3. Simplify by Sara at 6:05 am #

    I was just looking for ideas yesterday … Thanks!

  4. Elizabeth at 7:48 am #

    When I was still at the library in DC, I came into possession of a bunch of deaccessioned USGS maps – they made WONDERFUL wrapping paper.

    My family has a long history of using pillowcases to wrap weirdly shaped or large items. We refer to it as “family wrap”.

    • LittleBig at 5:02 pm #

      I am openly jealous of your USGS maps. So beautiful.

      “Family Wrap” is a winner. I love the sorts of traditions families come up with.

  5. Amber at 9:41 am #

    Love it! Sometimes wrapping the gifts is my favorite part of the holidays. Every year I try to pick a new “theme”.
    Some of my faves include:
    – plain white or brown shipping paper with fun ribbons.
    – using kids drawings/paintings
    – wrapping many many rounds of cheap thin ribbon around instead of fancy expensive bows
    – taking two colors of solid paper and alternating one as the background and one folded pretty as the “ribbon”
    – tying cheap dollar store holiday garland and ornaments around boxes
    – Japanese fabric gift wrapping

  6. Sarah at 10:11 am #

    I’m a big fan of using the New York Times Sunday edition for wrapping paper. The travel pages and large fashion/jewelry ads make great wrapping paper, particularly if you know someone whose interests match the content of the ads. For instance, my boyfriend loves watches so I used some huge watch ads for him; shoe ads for my 22-year-old cousin who loves shoes and so on. The Sunday edition is $6 I believe, but if you read it first then you’re technically re-using it. 🙂 There’s also the opportunity for humor here, if you strategically position a headline about “enormous gas reserves” or something equally amusing for that special someone.

    I also like to use brown paper grocery bags as wrapping paper – if you’re so inclined you can stamp a design onto it with rubber stamps (or a homemade sponge or POTATO stamp if you really want a Homemade Kountry Khristmas – not to be confused with a Kardashian Khristmas). I like plain, rustic brown paper tied with a luxurious looking silk or velvet-like bow…the contrast in textures pleases me a great deal.

    I knit, so I use yarn for ribbon. It uses up scraps and ends I’ll never actually knit with.

    • LittleBig at 5:03 pm #

      I never thought to buy a fancy paper for this purpose but I love the idea.

  7. All great ideas, but I LOOOOOVE the lime “card” (and tequila present). So clever AND useful, haha!

    • LittleBig at 5:03 pm #

      Thank you! Usefulness always gets bonus points in my book.

  8. asia at 7:09 pm #

    Awesome. I love avoiding buying wrapping paper. Last year I realized, however, that I was low on my fave wrapping paper– brown bags that we sometimes decorate, but other times leave plain & add a raffia bow– because I’d been so good at remembering to bring my reusable shopping bags. This list gives me some new ideas… we got lotsa yarn.

  9. Anne at 7:31 pm #

    When I worked at a video store, we always got lots of free movie posters no one wanted. I used those to wrap gifts, sometimes face out and sometimes I’d decorate the plain white side. My mom often uses dish towels, which I love. It’s like getting two gifts in one!

    • LittleBig at 5:04 pm #

      Did you just say… DISHTOWELS?! ::drool drool::

  10. Bonnie at 6:48 am #

    I usually use gift bags, but the gifts I got for two of my nieces are pretty big, and won’t fit in a bag. And kids love to rip open the paper more than taking something out of a bag. I’m thinking of using the free weekly newspapers we get and then use some of the ribbon I saved from my wedding showers (where most of my gift bags came from as well)

  11. Sarah at 8:40 am #

    Some of my favourites made the list! I’m a big fan of a simple wrapping, ala craft paper and a big old punchy bow. Or sometimes understated twine. Lovely! 🙂 I also use the gift bags with the holes punched with ribbon, bow, twine etc.. Love the Christmas theme ’round these parts!

    • LittleBig at 5:05 pm #

      I am a little Christmas-heavy this year. Glad you like it!

  12. Leah at 9:48 pm #

    I love this post and all your great ideas! We have so many of these things lying around at home. It’s great to get some new ideas. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Windsor Grace at 6:40 pm #

    I wrapped all in aluminum foil a couple of years with really colorful bows. It. Was. Awesome.

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