10 Steps to Holiday Ecology: DIY Gift-Wrapping with “Trash”


Whatever you do don’t spend big bucks on gift wrapping over the holidays. I promise.You don’t need to.

In fact, you can have more fun and make a more lasting impression on friends and family by creating packaging from trash you have cluttering your house–stuff that can be up-cycled into simply smashing wrapping.

Did you know that over the December holidays Americans generate 25% more trash than they do on average?

However, if you wrap with trash to begin with, you not only save money by not buying paper and ribbon, you can help make the planet itself a happier place, as well.

So, below is a DIY tutorial that will show you to wrap with green-savvy class this Christmas. It’s about how to wrap using maps, coke caps, duct tape, and lots more.

What you will need:

  1. Map
  2. Bottle caps
  3. Popsicle sticks
  4. Decorative duct tape
  5. Green painters’ tape (even masking tape, perhaps)
  6. Recycled red ribbon (or any other color you like)
  7. Tape
  8. Scissors
  9. Hammer
  10. Hot glue gun
  11. Buttons (any color you have)

Step 1

Find an out-of-date atlas or any other kind of map you might have discarded as out-of-date or no longer useful.

Step 2

Cut the map to size and wrap as you would any other paper.

Step 3

Use duct tape as ribbon.

Step 4

Add green painters’ tape and recycled red ribbon from last Christmas.

Step 5

Hot glue popsicle sticks to creat a star.

Step 6

Decorate the star with green buttons.

Step 7

Hammer the edges of a discarded coke cap flat to create a ruffled-looking edge.

Step 8

Hot glue the coke cap to the center of the star.

Step 9

Hot glue a discarded, screw-on coke cap to the underside of the star to give it height and dimension.

Step 10

Hot glue the completed star to the center of your package.

Try your own extreme gift wrapping.  You, too, can be package-proud and planet-friendly this holiday season.

Have you done any extreme gift-wrapping, yourself?  What’s the most unexpected item you have ever used to wrap a gift?

To see more of my gift-wrapping-with-trash ideas, please visit my blog at the Huffington Post–and while you’re there, I’d love you to leave a comment and “fan” me!

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56 thoughts on “10 Steps to Holiday Ecology: DIY Gift-Wrapping with “Trash”

  1. I tried to respond on HP but I don’t think it took my comment. But I said the same thing the lady emjayandthem said… I wouldn’t want to open it!

    It takes someone special to see beauty in what others cannot see. You are beautiful and you create beauty. <3

      • Merry Christmas to you and Sarah! Any snow there? None here but we’re supposed to get wicked winds tomorrow and Thursday. I sure hope we can make a trip to Kentucky over the winter!

      • Something to look forward to! Just as insanely warm here in your neighbor’s state. Blah. The winds are supposed to start today which will make it “feel” colder. Which I don’t understand if it “feels” colder why “isn’t” it colder? :) But your gift wrapping certainly makes things more festive and holiday feeling.

      • Yeah, wind chill is weird. I understand that moving air creates a cooling sensation on the skin, but does not lower the temp of surrounding air. Thus, the difference. But then I have NO meteorological expertise! LOL We have some snow here today–a mere dusting.

      • Well you understand it better than I do! We have WIND and more than a dusting. But if it shoots up a degree or two it will all be gone. Some electric out in spots. But nothing major like the summer storms. Though we did have thunder and lightening just a couple of days ago. That is so wrong.

  2. I can say from firsthand receiving that the paper really is so pretty you don’t want to open the gift! Tom and I made sure to take a million pictures of the wedding gift from you and Sara before we even touched it. Got to document all that beauty!
    P.S. Having a hard time commenting of Huff Post. I’ve either sent you 21 of the same comments or it didn’t take any of them :(

    • Oh, I’m so happy you enjoyed that wrapping. I think what I did for your wrapping was take the invitation and enlarge it to wrapping paper size at Kinkos. However, I think I made the bow out of the kind of lid that comes on a fancy coffee drink at Starbucks.

      I’ll check and see if your comment came through, Tori. Thanks for trying!

    • Oh, I’m so happy you enjoyed that wrapping. I think what I did for your wrapping was take the invitation and enlarge it to wrapping paper size at Kinkos. However, I think I made the bow out of the kind of lid that comes on a fancy coffee drink at Starbucks.

      I’ll check and see if your comment came through, Tori. Thanks for trying!

  3. Great Idea’s ! We use to use the Sunday Comic’s, and make book covers out of paper bags, make envelope’s from pictures in magazine pages!

    One could print their own photos on sheets of paper and fit them to gift wrap, there are thousands of possiblities!

    Happy Christmas!

  4. Pretty! My Tony was so enamored with the ornament you sent me! He couldn’t believe something pretty came from all that trash. In fact, you inspired the hoarder in him, lol. Mama had to shoot that idea down. His room already looks like a garbage dump. Real garbage would be overkill.

    • Actually, brown paper is one of my personal favorites! I especially like to use it with old-fashioned twine for ribbon. There’s just so much you can do. How funny that you expected me to have a gift wrap ideas. That cracks me up, Lisa. Happy Holidays, my friend!

  5. I love LOVE this – but honestly, I don’t know how you have time to brush your TEETH in the morning! I love the way you take so much time and energy and creativity to make everything around you look so pretty!! My favorite wrapping memory is having no wedding paper to wrap my niece’s wedding gift in – so we just covered it in recycled white paper and had our 5 year olds draw pictures all over it, threw on a ribbon and it was the biggest hit on the gift table. I loved that!! HAPPY HOLIDAYS, KATHRYN!!!

    • OMG, maybe that’s why I have NO time! SOmehow I didn’t put it all together. But we won’t tell my sister, the dental hygienist! LOL Love to hear about your wrapping experience. Makes for a great story, as well. Happy holidays to you, as well, Betty!

  6. I love this!!! So creative! Books make the best presents, too, for all the obvious reason AND for their nice size and shape for wrapping. My “signature” wrapping paper is brown paper (from shopping bags or a cheap roll) and green garden twine. I dress that up with pine cones (sometimes painted gold or silver), tiny ornaments, and sometimes a little gift – like a stainless serving spoon or a set of chopsticks or a new comb. Thank you for this wonderful Christmas inspiration!

    • Oh, Cindy, brown paper is actually my personal favorite. I use twine with mine, as well. However, I hadn’t tried the green twine–that’s a great idea. I love to use pine cones, as well. Sounds like you are an amazingly creative wrapper, my friend. Happy holidays to you!

  7. Kathy – I think if I touched your shoulder there’d be a sizzle sound. That’s right. You’re so darned COOL (or should I say HOT) when it comes to creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, repurposing…the list goes on!

  8. Hmm. I use newsprint, brown kraft paper, that seed catalog that’s printed on newsprint and is all old-timey looking, tissue paper from old patterns, instructions from old patterns, maps, etc. But I do spend money on fancy Japanese masking tape because it is so fabulous looking. And then I don’t need tape or ribbons at all!

    • Okay, I have confess to buying the Japanese tape this year. I have wanted to for so long, and have finally broken down. I’ve not used them yet, but I fully intend to. Thanks for the reminder. Happy holidays!

  9. My word what a Brilliant wrapping job Kathy :-) How do you get the paper to lie so perfectly flat?
    When our kids were small we used the comics section from the Sunday papers and thought we’d done a great job – I never thought of adding ribbons and popsicle sticks.

    • Great quesions, Rosie. I think the key to wrapping involves a tight fit for the paper. I usually tape one side of the paper to the gift itself, so I can pull the other side tightly around and over it. Also, ceases/folds need to be tight and crisp. Thanks for asking. Hope you have a great holiday, my friend.

  10. I have wrapped gifts in newspapermtied with ribbon and decorated with tassels made from shredded newspaper. I had black fingers at the end of the exercise, but the gift looked excellent.

    • Yes, cheap paper does, indeed, tear. That’s what I love about using an old atlas, as the paper is thick and durable. I saw your post about having finished your own wrapping. You are SO ahead of me. Hope you have a great Christmas!

  11. Oh, my goodness, girl! If I still gave gifts, I’d end up wrapping them in brown butcher paper. Bah, Humbug!
    ps. Lovelovelove Writing Down the Bones. One of my all-time favorites.

  12. Gotta love your creativity!

    BTW – off topic – Christmas party at my place … starting Christmas Eve, actually starting the night before for the Aussies … ending, who knows when. Hope you can attend … and your friends here are welcome, too!

    • Oh, how fun! Thanks for mentioning the party! I must have missed your post about that. I will try to stop by–though I may be overly busy with my family. But will do my best. Great idea. Merry Christmas, Frank!

  13. You and I reside on entirely different gift wrapping planets Kathy — something you know well buddy. Have a great Xmas with Sara and the critters. I’m heading over to the West Coast today and will not be online much at all until I return.

    • Oh, V, I know! I would LOVE to see your lame adventures in gift wrapping! Hope you have a happy holiday, my friend! I’m a day late responding to comments, so I assume you’ve arrived safely on the west coast! Take care———–

  14. I love looking at your crafts, Kathy. You make the ordinary look so dazzling. Where do these ideas come from? You need to be teaching a workshop. This would go over big in Seattle, where they’re very environmentally conscious. Should you do a class there, you’d be a big hit. And what a way to write off a trip there. Think about it!

    • Gosh, I have NO IDEA where the ideas come from. They just occur to me. I would LOVE to teach this stuff. I miss teaching. Taught writing for years, but it would be such fun to teach this kind of stuff. Hope you have a merry Christmas, dear Monica!

  15. Wonderfully create and earth friendly, Kathryn! Merry Christmas to you and Sara! (p.s. Is the font on this posting smaller than usual or is it my eyes? lol). Take care and blessings to you both! xoJulia

    • Hmmmm—don’t know about the font. Will have to go check the post. It may be smaller. I doubt that your sight is suddenly failing you–unless you are blinded by the brilliance of all this! LOL

      Merry Christmas from both of us, dear Julia. Hugs and love and all that good stuff!

  16. You are so creative and so green and so wonderful. The only creative thing I’ve done in terms of wrapping was using the Sunday comics when they were handy. We don’t get a newspaper anymore so my days of using it for wrapping are over.

    I hope your holidays were fab. Happy New Year, Kathy! :)

    • Oh, dear Robin, it’s great to hear from you. I apologize for being so far behind on all things blog-related, including responding to your comment. The holidays have gotten the best of me, I’m afraid. Glad you enjoyed my holiday ecology again this year. Happy New Year, my friend!

      • No apologies necessary at all, Kathy! I’m far behind, too. I think we ought to start the No Apologies Necessary Club for all bloggers who fall behind. Life can sometimes get in the way of blogging, and that’s not a bad thing. :)

      • In fact, sometimes it can be a good thing–I suppose. There’s a lot to be said for the tangible world around us. I’m ALLLLL for the NANC–No Apologies Necessary Club! I’m in!

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