These cheap and easy gift wrapping ideas will help you save money on gift wrap or spice up your gifts! You’ll also find tips for wrapping unusually shaped items.
15 Cheap Gift Wrapping Ideas
- Store bows and ribbons in a plastic bag and hang from the hanger with a clothespin or just put the handles of the bag over the hanger hook.
- Cut leftover or old Christmas fabric into strips to make ribbons.
- Use tulle or shredded color paper (recycled of course) to stuff in gift bags.
- Buy white butcher’s paper or brown paper (found at home improvement stores, called “contractor’s paper”) to wrap gifts with; simply add a colorful ribbon, twine and or decorations such as pine cones, leaves, silk flowers, small toys, candy or cookies. Tie small jingle bells on packages for a festive ring!
- If you can’t find butcher’s paper, use the backside of ugly Christmas paper. You can often find some very cheap at garage sales. Use the back side of ugly Christmas paper to wrap birthday presents.
- To wrap extra large presents like bikes, use a plastic tablecloth. You can find one for about $1 at Dollar tree or at a garage sale for .50.
- Make the wrapping material part of the gift. You can use a blanket, photo storage box, scarf, basket, jewelry box, coffee mug, vase, watering can, terra cotta pot etc.
- Wind ribbon around old wrapping paper tubes or toilet paper tubes to save for next year.
- Use Christmas material bought on clearance to wrap gifts. Sometimes it’s cheaper than paper.
- Cut Christmas pictures out of magazines. Paste on bags or the outside of packages.
- Save Christmas cards and use to decorate packages. Cut out with pinking shears for a lace effect.
- Use Christmas cards as gift tags. Cut out a section on the card that is blank on the back. Punch a hole in the top to tie on the package. Use the back to write “To:” and “From:”.
- To freshen wrinkled Christmas bows, put in the dryer with a damp washcloth. Put the machine on the delicate cycle for two minutes. The bows will look like new.
- Don’t forget to look in your kitchen cupboard when you need boxes for wrapping – Oatmeal boxes, cereal boxes and such work great.
- Save crumpled gift wrap and use it for packing to mail packages.
- Place a little drop of scented oil, a scented pine cone, handful of strong smelling peppermints etc. inside a package you are sending so the minute they open the box they get a smell of Christmas.
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I was reading in a magazine yesterday about using gift-wrapping tissue paper to wrap around an old jar, such as a mayo or pickle jar, that is now empty, to make a pretty candle holder or even a pencil holder. The candlelight shining through the tissue paper makes it look like a stained glass window.
Grizzly Bear Mom
In my family we wrapped the cardboard “sweater” box tops and carefully tape them to their bottoms with the little bits of tape. We’ve been reusing these boxes since 1982.
My Mother and I used to take old Christmas cards and cut out strips about the size of a book mark. then punch a hole at the top and tie a ribbon thru the hole. Use the back for a Christmas message and include in your Christmas card.
They were a big hit and we made a lot of memories doing this project!
Another use for ugly Christmas paper – crumple or shred it up and use it in the bottom of your gift baskets for filler.
You could also have your children stamp some Christmas images on to the plain white paper or even a recycled brown paper bag. That way you not only get the wrapping paper but also a nice kids activity.
You can also have the children color on the contractor paper to decorate. Colored comic strips and even unique ads make fun gift wrap. One year I took a box and cut out all kinds of words that described the person and used glue to decorate the box – it became part of the gift. We also use our shredded paper (from our mail) to fill boxes for shipping or to decorate.
One year all the gifts we were giving to the boys were in identical packaging. They wanted GI Joe things and the figures.
I figured after opening the one they would know the rest so I took cans that had those plastic tops and put one or two into each can. wrapped them up so they looked nice.
some I added something heavy so they couldn’t tell by the weight.
Some I put a couple marbles into so they made a noise. Even the books we bought were all similar so into cans they went.
Fun christmas and the cans were easy to wrap.
When the cans were all unwrapped and stacked it looked like the living room was a food bank. But it was a fun morning for us all.
I have wrapped a gift food basket in a table cloth that matches the napkins inside. For the person that has everything, (my in-laws) I made the food basket, but used a big brown grocery bag and rolled it down to make a basket.
Often I use bandanas for wrapping. Sometimes, it is the gift itself that I have rolled up in such a way it looks like wrapping!
One year we made cookies for all the uncles. One uncle decided to shake the gift so see what it might be! We told him not to, but oh well… He found out soon enough. Next year we made cookie creches. This was like gingerbread houses glued together with icing. One house didn’t stay together, so the tag said, “Pre-shaken for your convenience.” Everyone got a good laugh! It still tasted the same!
Busy Beekeeper mom.
With the store managers permission (each time) I harvest huge sheets of brown packing paper from the dumpsters at the dollar stores. The butcher paper can be aggressively wrinkled, and even cut and twisted into “raffia” like ribbons for tying & bows.
With or without a dusting of glitter or paint, these make lovely wrapping if you are crafty. I also have the kids color some large sheets, especially for particular people, and we wrap their gifts with that recycled paper.
I also take boxes of whatever sizes I need, and use these for wrapping/shipping. You can pull a box apart, turn it inside out, and seal it with strapping tape for mailing.
I have used all the other tips too, and often had gifts wrapped so attractively, that people did not want to unwrap them.
One year I wrapped all gifts to look like paper angels, with access from bottom so the gift could be removed without damaging the sculpture. They are still used in several households as part of their Christmas decorations.
My boys used to have fun trying to guess what their silly wrapping mom would put into the coffee can, or box for tin foil. Or what goofy shape actually held the books.
I am so unorganized that at the last minute I was searching the house and kitchen for boxes.
nothing was ever in the original box and if I ran out of time I would just tape everything and leave the cheerios box as the wrapping.
sure made the tree look more like a food bank but we all enjoyed making fun of me.
Grandma, those are some of the best memories. My aunt used to put gifts in boxes like that and then wrap. When I was about 8, I unwrapped a box from my aunt…it was a bulk sized box that miniature bags of pretzels came in. My mom has a picture of me holding the box with a puzzled look on my face like “She gave me…pretzels?” LOL. It was elephant house shoes. I will never forget that. :)
That reminds me… Sometimes we use cereal boxes, graham cracker boxes, toilet paper tubes (covered), boxes checks come in, or about any other box, especially if it is misleading. You know those can openers that open the can without cutting the can? Well, those cans are wonderful for packing gifts in!
We have lots of fun with very little expense!
That sounds like my wrapping! Sometimes I use scarves, cans, toilet paper tubes or whatever! One of my sons collects the Sunday comics all year for his wrapping paper. We all enjoy reading those again.
After I graduated from college and had my first job, money was extremely tight. That year for Christmas, I took all my paper grocery bags and cut them apart. I used the inside of them for the outside of my gifts. Then, I bought some cheap paints, and used a couple of potatoes I had cut designs in to stamp the outside of the packages. I used jute to tie bows on a few. The wrap looked very rustic and was complimented on by all the relatives. Shapes I cut were Christmas Trees, Stars, A Santa Hat and Candy Cane. Since I already had the bags and potatoes, all I had to do was pay about .69 per color of paint. A very cheap way to get lots of wrap.
I love to use grocery bags. Our store has special paper bags with a pretty Christmas scene on it starting in November. Free is fine with me. My kids don’t care at all. They just love to rip right in. I also have made a bunch of fabric bags over the years with a beautiful set of red sheets that I paid $2.00 for. I read once you should remember that wrapping is part of the price of your gift. Did you just spend $25.00 on gift wrap, bows, cards, filler, bags…a friend of mine did. Add that up over ten years…kind of makes you think doesn’t it?
gosh .. you all are sooo crafty .. omg .. i am either toooo lazy or tooo cheap when it comes to gift wrapping .. granted, my fav thing to do is to buy those decorated bags bc they are pretty .. but they are convenient ..
i used to use the plastic grocery/walmart bags that was used when i would bring the groceries home (i would ask for extra that wasnt used) .. adn just wrap up the gifts with that and well either make a bow out of the comics or buy a bag of bows ..
my daughter asked me one yr if i wouldnt mind buying wrapping paper for the gifts .. i bought 2 rolls .. and yes they were the same .. omg .. hehheee e.. my kids dont ask anymore for wrapping paper ..
now, that the kids are older, well for my son, he is smart .. he doesnt care .. he usually asks to get all his gifts in one large walmart bag (the plastic one) .. he takes the trash out and he knows i dont do the wrapping thing .. so it works out well for him ..
my daughter .. well .. she knows she will get a cute designed bag but i did get her a really nice surprise gift and yes i did wrap that gift in paper .. only bc it was special and well .. i wanted to surprise her ..
i like that idea of the paper bags .. and let the smaller kids color and decorate them ..
great ideas .. :D :D
Yesterday I went to a baby shower with my daughter. We made two dozen flannel diapers, three receiving blankets and a patchwork floor blanket. We made a diaper cake with the diapers and two of the receiving blankets and set the diaper cake on top of the folded floor blanket and tied it all up in third receiving blanket. It can be fun to to wrap the gift in the gift!
You can wrap a gift in a scarf! One year, I got out my husband’s collection of bandanas and tied up a lot of the gifts in bandanas! No trash. Or early in the shopping season, I can find the big package of plain white tissue paper at Costco to wrap everything in. They are going to rip through it anyway… My mother-in-law food a roll of wall paper once and everything was wrapped in that paper for awhile.
We have a huge roll of butcher that we decorate and it becomes wrapping paper. We have used stamps, crayons, finger paint and drawing. I just have trouble buying bags or wrapping paper and bows that are going to be thrown away. We make our own cards. I can’t even imagine paying the price of some of those cards. I can’t believe the price! Yikes!
Like Michelle above, one year when my kids were little, we used paper grocery bags and lunch bags to wrap gifts in. We did art projects for a couple of weeks (I homeschooled), where the kids painted the flat fronts and backs of the bags to look like storefronts and houses. Then they painted the top portion of each bag (the open end) to look like shingles. When the bags dried, we put presents in them, on the flat bottom part of the bag,turned the top down and stapled or taped the top shut. Then the “buildings” were arranged under the tree. It looked like a little village under there when we were done, and we saved a fortune on wrapping paper. All my kids are grown with their own families now, but they all remember doing that. The only one who didn’t like doing it was the one who grew up to get a degree in art! We also spent a Christmas or two, doing potato prints on brown butcher wrapping paper, which you can buy in bulk here. It is like kraft paper, but waxed on one side only. The kids got to make their own wrapping paper. Years later, when my mother-in-law passed away, we found the homemade Christmas paper folded and saved in her trunk of precious treasures. My neighbour thought it would be fun to do the same thing with hand prints and children’s footprints, but that is a project that would need at least 2 adults, and free afternoon and a lot of patience. I bet it would indeed be a treasure for a grandparent to receive, though.
I just buy my Christmas paper on the after-Christmas sales when it’s 75-90 percent off. I also reuse the decorated gift bags that I sometimes receive gifts in. If the normal gift paper costs around 10 cents or less per gift, I don’t want to spend a half an hour creating some myself that still costs me money to use. I might consider getting those free gift boxes from Kohl’s and instead of wrapping them in a normal gift wrap, and just have my kids clip something from ads or magazines and paste it on it and write something with markers(for grandma).
I read many articles about saving on giftwrap paper, even I read some info on it in the Tightwad gazette. In my opinion it is not worth it to spend a half an hour just to save 10 cents.
Yes I get most of my paper after Christmas too.I spend a lot of time on wrapping my presents because I do enjoy wrapping them. Depending on the age and gender I work really hard a personalizing the presents. For little kids or the guys I don’t do as much but my girls and ladies I try to make them works of art almost and they really seem to enjoy them. I also started making the gift wrapping a little “fancier” because I couldn’t afford a very expensive gift so I tried to make the presentation as nice a I could.
I think one of the best wrapping paper buys was when Tawra found these thick huge rolls of red plaid paper for $.05. We had so much of it we even used it for packing the books. 10 years later I still have 3 rolls of it. I don’t think that stuff will every go away.
My sister and I sew and we both have big fabric stashes. We use fabric to wrap presents. We watch for sales at the fabric stores and then pick out prints that showcase the interests of each person to use as his/her wrapping. Some are made into gift bags to use each year. We also buy lace and ribbons on sale and reuse them each year with just a touch-up with the iron. People look for their favorite fabrics each year, so we save on some gift tags, and reuse the rest from year to year.
Another gift wrapping idea is to wrap gifts in plain brown paper. Print off a picture of the person getting the gift and glue it on the front of the paper. Decorate with a bow, ribbon, or small ornament! VOILA!
Small packages like jewelry boxes can be wrapped easily with ordinary aluminum foil from the kitchen. When tied with a thin red ribbon, it makes a pretty package.
I love to use aluminum foil. It looks very festive under the tree with the Christmas lights bouncing off from it! Plus, a perk is you don’t need any tape!
I have been using the same boxes for presents for years and years. It is now a joke at my in-laws and after they open their present they hand the empty box back to me. I can’t understand buying new boxes each year and they fold flat so I have 10-20 boxes in one relatively small area. Same with tissue paper…I smooth it and re-use it. And gift bags I use until they fall apart. Presents for others they get a bag that has only been used once. My immediate family gets the ones that are on their last leg. If I do use wrapping paper, it is what I bought last year on sale and at least 50 sq ft and around $1. Like someone said, why should the wrapping be as much as the present.
Yes Kim we do that too and it actually makes for a good laugh each year and lots of fun. Our gift wrapping things have almost as many fond memories as our ornaments or Christmas decorations. Even after I have reused paper or bag beyond use I then cut out some little section of it that is still good, wrap the present in tissue paper and then glue that little section on it so it gets used one last time.
Barbara I Samar
Back in the day I would use carton paper that comes with the Sunday paper to wrap my gifts for my sons. But now the Sunday cost to much don’t buy it all :(
Sewing or buying a few reusable fabric drawstring bags is another cheap way to wrap gifts and it also reduces waste. The fabric bags are especially good for oddly shaped items that would be hard to wrap with paper.
There are lots of good ideas in this post!
Thank you such wonderful ideas and love ghee we simplicity! Also I made the peanut clusters and chocolate dipped pretzels this year. Your ideas made me less overwhelmed and it was very affordable too!