How to Re-Use Wrap, Ribbons & Cards for a Beautiful Present

No need to buy wrapping paper, ribbons and cards

Even if you appreciate a beautifully packaged present, you will rarely have to buy wrapping supplies if you can hang onto the trimmings of birthday and holiday gifts.

On Christmas morning, we set out several shopping bags to collect re-usable wrapping paper, ribbons and cards. Kids can join in the fun by helping conserve and categorize pretty pieces.

Wrapping Paper

Ripping a package open is fun, but save that for the little ones.  Grown-ups can open packages by slipping a finger under the tape and quickly lifting it off.   (Or keep the paper even more pristine by unwrapping with a pair of scissors, like a surgeon.)

Alternatives to Recycled Paper

It can be hard to save enough paper to wrap large gifts.  Consider cutting down on the clutter of different rolls of paper by buying one big roll of brown paper. Jazz it up with recycled ribbons and cut-out cards or ask your child decorate it with good old-fashioned crayons or paints.

Or use the orderly beauty of numbers to decorate your package by wrapping with the financial section of the newspaper. Add a flourish with thick ribbon or several rounds of colored twine.


I really love the look and feel of real fabric ribbon, but I just can’t get myself to spend money on it for gift wrapping.

The solution is to save all the beautiful ribbons you receive, roll them up or toss them in a ribbon box, and enjoy the pleasure of tying them in a bow when it’s your turn to gift.

Even small strips of ribbon come in handy for dressing up a bottle of wine or other hostess gift.

If you want to go the extra mile, you could even iron the (fabric only) ribbons to make them look almost as good as new.

Gift Bags

Because they are more durable and don’t suffer the damaging effects of tape and creasing, the now ubiquitous gift bags are effortlessly re-usable. (Don’t forget to save the tissue paper too.)

When a gift bag is ready to retire from the party circuit, use it to haul library books or packages to the post office.


If there is nothing written on the top half of a card, it can easily be used again by cutting around the image to create your own unique card. Punch a hole and thread ribbon through to make it more spiffy.

Recycling wrapping paper and ribbon is an easy way to be both frugal and green.
Do you have some more ideas on how to save money and the earth at birthday and holiday time?

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  • Al January 1, 2010, 12:59 am

    I love this idea! I had always felt cheap whenever I saved cards & paper to use again, but it’s not cheap, it’s green!

  • Ghi December 24, 2009, 9:19 am

    We too like to reuse bags and Christmas cards for decoration! And I always hang on to the ribbon for sewing projects or re-wraps. We also have several plastic holiday bags we’ve collected through the years to wrap big things. I also like to sew little bags people can reuse… (google “drawstring bag tutorial”). These are good when the thing to be wrapped is an awkward shape (like a purse). I like the idea of buying a plain wrapping paper (brown or white) and decorating it yourself. A little red ribbon, stickers and scribbles from the kids would conform the package to the relevant holiday =)