This is a post I first wrote a few years ago. But it's one I love to rerun during the holidays because so much of what I said in 2009 is still true today...
Did you know that most wrapping paper can't be recycled? Many communities require you to just throw it away. Especially if the paper is metallic or glittered.
Many years ago I did a few workshops about recycled, repurposed gift wrapping and each time people were surprised by how great the finished gifts looked. I think people generally have this idea that it won't look as good as conventional wrapping paper, but I think it actually looks better.
Now I'm not going to lie- it does take some extra time. And I'd love to say that I don't use any store-bought wrapping paper- but that's just not true either. But I figure, if at the very least I've cut down on what we would normally use then that's something. I also buy paper that can be recycled whenever I can. The other really wonderful thing about repurposed wrapping paper it that it's an inexpensive.
You can use some really common materials to wrap gifts. Here I've used just a brown paper grocery bag. I glued some paper punched snowflakes on it after I wrapped the box, and tied it with a scrap of red ribbon. Would you ever guess this was a grocery bag!
You could also use the scraps of paper you have left after using the paper punch as a stencil. I painted some flakes onto another grocery bag- which was certainly faster than gluing the individual punched flakes onto the bag.
This one is very quick and easy. I covered the outside and lid of a mason jar with leftover pieces of scrapbook paper. They are great for holding things like tee shirts, scarves, mittens, hats, cookies and candies. And the jars do double the work because they can be reused from year to year.
Upcycled mailing tubes also make great containers for more than just posters. Clothes, candy, even knitting needles fit perfectly into these tubes. I used a sharpie to color red lines- but you could also use paint, ribbon or stickers to decorate it. Or cover the entire tube with a pretty scrapbook paper.
Making your own gift tags is also a great way to reuse materials and they can be recycled once the holiday is over.