How to Make Recycled Christmas Wrapping Paper & Bows

Publishers Note:  This blog originally ran December 20, 2011–but since it IS a blog on Re-using things–and since the content is as relevant and timely as it was last year–we decided to dust it off and re-use it.  Who knows, maybe will a little prodding, (and some commenting) we might even convince Lisa Hensley to write something for us again in the very near future!  😉  


I never have much wrapping paper on hand; it takes up space, gets in the way, and, inevitably, I discover my boys using the tubes for swords…with the paper still on. I don’t ever have bows, either, mostly because I can’t ever find them until well after I need them. By then, they’re usually squashed flat under something else.

So I try whenever I can to give gifts in bags, either reused from past birthday parties, or inexpensive reusable lunch sack-type bags. For anything that needs to be wrapped, a roll of kraft paper (or the plain side of a paper grocery bag) works for any occasion, and you can use rubber stamps, stickers, or markers to dress it up if you want something a little fancier.

That system works okay until Christmas rolls around, and I find myself all wrapped up (!) in the holiday spirit. I love the eye-candy factor of festively-wrapped presents under the tree. Besides, gift bags only encourage peeking.

I do keep one roll of pretty paper on hand for Christmas, and mix it with the generic kraft paper wrap I use for everything else all year.

All those packages look kinda naked, though, sitting under the tree with no bow to anchor their gift tag (also made myself, with a die-cutting machine). Since I had no desire to go buy bows, I decided to try my hand at making my own bows.

This is one of those projects that seems like it would be waaaaay more trouble than it’s worth. But I was really surprised by how easy it was, following the instructions in this tutorial from Instructibles.

I repurposed scrapbook paper for some bows and brown grocery bags for others, but you could just as easily use wrapping paper scraps, magazine pictures, newspaper, or even junk mail. If you feel like your gift needs an extra little touch, substitute simple garden twine or yarn for ribbon. The bonus here is that, except for the kraft paper, all of these items do double-duty elsewhere in your house, so in addition to saving storage space, you’ll save a little money too.

Happy holidays to you and yours!



Like this ‘Reuse It’ blog post by Lisa Hensley? Reuse some of her excellent stories, like the Going Green Missoula Recycling pageHow to Turn Tin Cans into Decorative Lanterns, or Repurposed Lighting.

   Visit Lisa Hensley’s Reuse It archive.


Lisa Hensley is a mostly-native Montanan, living in Missoula with her husband, two young boys, two cats (boys), one tiny dog (a girl!), and four fish (probably boys). She spent more than 10 years in the marketing and creative field, but is now Director of Household Operations for the Hensley group. When she’s not herding kids or doing laundry, she’s shooting photos, gardening, baking, reading, or taking classes—sometimes all at once. She serves on the Board of Directors for Home ReSource, which fits in nicely with her tendency to repurpose pretty much anything.

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