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

Whatever you do don’t spend big bucks on gift wrapping this Christmas.  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 supplies from trash you have cluttering your house—stuff that can be up-cycled into simply smashing wrapping.

Did you know that over the Christmas holiday Americans generate 25% more trash than they do on an average week?  It’s sad but true. 

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, this week I’ll do a series of DIY tutorials that will allow you to wrap with green-savvy class this Christmas.

Today, I’ll share 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Find an out-of-date atlas or any other kind of map you might have discarded as out-of-date or no longer useful.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.

Now–  This book about writing will thrill Sara’s nephew Nathan on Christmas, not only because he’s a poet, but also because the packaging itself is green.

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

Later this week I’ll share how you can continue this practice of holiday ecology by gift wrapping with comic books, newspaper and much more.

(Note:  I will be doing more memoir posts after the holiday.  If you are a new reader and you would like to look at some of my already-completed pieces about growing up with a mafia father, click here.)

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

  1. I love the idea of using recycled stuff as wrapping paper. I have used newspaper at times. I make gift tags by cutting colored paper to size and using a hole punch to make a hole to thread the ribbon. I have also used strips of cloth as ribbon.


  2. If I could possibly wrap a gift that arts and crafty, not to mention green, whatever was inside would be a guaranteed HUGE letdown! What do you suggest for those of us that only have tape, hammer and scissors on your list? I have an idea, buy a roll of wrapping paper and further destroy the planet. Thanks buddy for making me aware that there is yet another thing I can add to on my miles long list of things to feel guilty about in my misguided life.


    • That was my goal exactly this morning–to make you feel all the more lame, my friend. Just helping you live up to your own reputation, V. Now I suggest you attempt this and then blog about it–another lame adventure being handed to you–not that you don’t have enough already, and all. Hugs to you today————


  3. I think even someone who is all thumbs like me could manage this. This is such a creative and environmentally friendly way to celebrate. (And, dare I say, much nicer than much of the new gift wrap you can buy in the store.)

    And I hope Sara’s nephew loves that book as much as I do. 🙂


    • You’re right, Jackie. It really isn’t complicated at all. Someone just has to follow these easy steps and make the necessary substitutions or omissions if they don’t have something.

      Glad to hear you like Goldberg. I think Nathan will love the book.

      Thanks for reading, Jackie. Have a great week.


  4. Great green gift wrapping! I am looking under our plants (since we don’t have a tree) and the presents we received from both our kids are wrapped in newspaper and colorful catalog paper. Unfortunately, I am still using up wrapping paper from 2-3 years ago, but next time the paper is gone will remember these tips!


  5. Very creative! I use to use the comic section from the Sunday papers for wrapping paper. Another idea, if you are a seamstress, is to make different size draw-string bags; then reuse them year after year (I had a friend who did that. Never bought wrapping paper ever!)

    A glue gun, a hammer, and scraps are all we need to create tons of stuff!

    Fun post 🙂



    • Someone else mentioned the comics, but I had never thought of that before and love the idea. I had also never thought of making bags that could be used year after year. That’s an incredible plan. Thanks for sharing these, Cecelia!


  6. Wow– I love reusing paper to wrap gifts, but this puts all of my efforts to shame. (In a good way, of course!)

    I like to make “ribbons” by crocheting (or finger knitting) a cord with scrap yarn from other projects. I top it off with a cute little knit leaf or two, so where your star is in the example above, my recipient will have two leaves on a knit “twig” ribbon instead. Only if I have the time, though. 🙂


  7. I love this. I think I would have to go out and buy decorative duct tape and ribbon, and all the buttons I have I need as spares to coats and things though- haha. I probably have alternative things though. I am the eldest of 8 and the youngest is only 2. Our living room be’s swimming in wrapping paper on Christmas morn. 😦 We DO have a recycling bin however!


    • Thanks for reading, Fiona. Sounds like you have a house-full. Rather than buying this stuff, however, try to think creatively about the things you already have around the house.

      I appreciate your stopping by and hope to see you again soon.


  8. Wonderful Kathy! I hope Nathan doesn’t stumble upon your blog before he gets his gift 🙂 . Just imagine what a difference we could all make if everyone used scraps instead of adding to the refuse pile this year.


  9. Pingback: Lame Adventure 259: By Request, How I Wrap Gifts | Lame Adventures

  10. Holy cow! I tend to give gifts sans wrapping as I find them throughout the year instead of at holidays, but now that I’ve seen this wrapping option, YES PLEASE! I wish I had your creativity in these matters. 🙂


  11. Pingback: Holiday Gift Wrap That Makes the Most of Your Trash? | Gift Wrap Ideas

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