Make Your Own Wrapping Paper

by Kelly · 19 comments

in A Frugal Family,Series

So making your own gift bags is great for both your pocketbook and Mother Earth, right? Of course.

Except. There are times when a reusable fabric gift bag might not be the best choice. I can think of two groups of people whose presents I won’t be wrapping in fabric this year: children and those from whom I don’t feel comfortable asking the bag back.

I think children should have the experience of ripping paper– it’s a lot of fun! Plus, my kids are at the age when they’re starting to get invited to birthday parties, and if my kids don’t really understand the cloth bag, other people’s kids really aren’t going to understand. And there’s a whole bunch of people (grown-ups this time) who wouldn’t like the idea very much either.

Enter the customizable wrapping paper. I bought a large roll of white paper from Ikea about six months ago, the sort of paper that is supposed to be used with a child’s easel. And every time I have a present to wrap in paper, I cut off a piece big enough for wrapping what ever it is and let my children have at it. They draw pictures, scribble color on, or write messages.

They love to draw and write, even more so when I explain that this is paper for their friend Lou-Ann or Eva or whom ever’s present. And I like that their drawing personalizes the present even further.

I even use this paper for wrapping boxes when I ship things. If you have ever received a package from me, it will have been wrapped in sturdy white paper. Ikea really does have it all!

Any creative wrapping paper tips? Let’s hear them!

This post is part of Holidays *by hand*.


1 meagan October 31, 2008

I keep all the tissue paper that we get as packaging for gifts or clothes and, based on the event, have our oldest son (3.5 yo) stamp all over the paper and then color with one or two crayons. It’s especially cute with the diaper pin stamp and pink or blue crayons for a baby gift, but it works for all occasions.

meagan´s last blog post..sage reads: october 29

2 Denise October 31, 2008

yes, I just recycled some brown shipping paper and used it for the last gifts we gave. The girls decorated the paper as well. At least the paper got one more use out of it before recycling it again.

Denise´s last blog post..Dear Husband,

3 Dana @ Letters to Elijah October 31, 2008

We do the brown grocery bag thing too. Grab some rubber stamps and the kids go crazy!

Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last blog post..A new job!

4 Jo October 31, 2008

I like to use old maps for wrapping paper. They are sturdy, and look pretty neat, especially for boys and men!

I was a bit surprised that you mentioned the issue of “asking for the fabric gift bag back.” I’ve made lots of fabric gift bags for folks, and I’ve never asked for the bag back! I consider it to be part of the gift, and I encourage the recipient to use it for whatever need they might have. Sometimes I make the gift bag into more of a tote bag that can be more versatile for the recipient. Lately I’ve been making them into the reusable grocery shopping bags (unless the gift inside is really tiny) and they’ve been a big hit.

Kelly, I love your blog and have it on my RSS feed. Keep up the good work! ~~jo

5 Kelly October 31, 2008


Maps are a great idea! And I like the idea of making grocery bags too. I only mentioned asking for the bags back because of a commenter on the previous post. Obviously I’ll be snatching them back from my family, but then again, I come from a family where we grab back wrapping paper to reuse it the next year.

6 Vintage Mommy October 31, 2008

In our family, we reuse purchased wrapping paper. Some of the paper (which travels back and forth across the country) has been around for ages, and it’s a fun way to remember holidays gone by as we open gifts wrapped in our “heirloom” paper.

Love your idea, though, especially for b-day gifts.

Vintage Mommy´s last blog post..Only Children: Lucky or Lonely?

7 Grace October 31, 2008

When I was a kid, my mom would get rolls of newsprint paper from the publisher. It was sort of low-grade, but worked fine for wrapping, and we’d decorate it with stamps cut from potatoes and dipped in Tempera paint. Worked great and was super cute!

Grace´s last blog post..Friday love: where the heart is

8 Sarah H. October 31, 2008

I love it this idea! As I said before, I find wrapping paper so wasteful, not to mention expensive. But I totally agree with your sentiments about how certain people, especially children, should be able to rip open paper. And what better way to accommodate them than to use homemade wrapping paper! It’s cheaper, more meaningful, and fun! Great post.

(p.s. and thanks for answering my question about asking for sewn gift bags back!)

Sarah H.´s last blog post..Organize My Wardrobe: Long-Term Clothes Management

9 Rachel October 31, 2008

This is a great idea Kelly! Like Ann (Vintage Mommy) mentioned, we reuse the same gift wrap from year to year, but we use gift bags. Ann’s family must be careful un-wrappers to use the paper every year!

Rachel´s last blog post..Paper Pile Makeover Results!

10 Meegan November 1, 2008

I love plain brown paper with a bright ribbon for adults and let the Boy decorate the paper if it’s for another child, aunt, uncle or grandparent – they appreciate the artwork :o)
I also use the brown paper for posting parcels as well. As long as it’s strong enough, why buy extra packaging?!

Meegan´s last blog post..A quick plug

11 Amy @ My Daily Dollars November 1, 2008

I forgot about using a potato as a stamp. We used to do that too. Thanks for reminding me Grace! I saved all the silk ribbon from our wedding presents. I love making bows from it for packages.

Amy @ My Daily Dollars´s last blog post..I’ll Pay for this . . . Later

12 Sarah H. November 1, 2008

Kelly, I just wanted to drop by this morning and let you know that I ‘tagged’ your great blog today. 🙂 If you have no idea what I’m talking about, stop by my most recent post to read the rules. Have a great weekend!

Sarah H.´s last blog post..Let’s play blog tag

13 Kelly November 1, 2008

Thanks Sarah!

14 Amanda November 2, 2008

Love this idea! We already have some of that paper from IKEA. We thought DD was getting the easel for Christmas last year, but she got a different brand and the paper doesn’t fit. What a great way to use it up!

Amanda´s last blog post..Halloween 2008: The Year of Fake Hair

15 Laina November 3, 2008

I have been making my own paper since I was in Jr. High (and I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was). My best idea for Christmas was writing Christmas memory stories and adding little drawings or pictures in with the text. I also used my baby’s feet as stamps with red and green paint for her first christmas and I have used pictures of the recepient dolled up into a “story” for instance we drew a plane and put a pic of the grandparents inside and cut out paper santa hats to glue on top of them then had them dropping gifts out. It is a challenge to do something new each year and makes paper bags or kraft wrap take on new heights.

16 Saver Queen November 4, 2008

Great ideas! I save the brown paper and brown paper bags that come with purchases. We recently bought a hard drive that came in a large box with brown paper, which is in good enough shape to reuse. I also reuse ribbons, stickers, gift bags, Christmas tags, Christmas cards (cut them up and use them as gift tags) and tissue paper. I also repurpose and reuse all kinds of containers for packaging, too! Another fun idea is making envelopes out of magazine pages – you can wrap small gifts in magazine pages too! And when I do buy new supplies, I always head to the dollar store!

Saver Queen´s last blog post..My first giveaway starts today! Free coupons galore!

17 jodi @ bpr November 4, 2008

love this idea – I’ll have to keep it in mind! 🙂

jodi @ bpr´s last blog post..Sewing up a Homemade Holiday

18 Jami November 5, 2008

If anyone lives close to a bag manufacturer, such as International Paper or Exopack, they can get the remainder of the paper rolls for free! I use to live close to one, and would always ask for the ends of the thinner brown bag type paper. It was great for wrapping paper, crafts, kids coloring easel, etc. They have to change the rolls before they get to the very end and get rid of tons of paper every day.

19 KEv November 2, 2009

My mom used to get big rolls of plain brown craft paper, and then she had a bunch of holiday-esque artsy stamps like you'd get from a scrapbooking store (but this was before scrapbooking stores). She'd wrap the present, and we'd stamp it all over.

She bought some of the "good" wrapping paper for certain people, but we did this for quite a few years.

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