Butcher Paper, Table Cloths and More Creative Money-Saving Gift Wrap Ideas

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As if the cost of holiday gifts alone isn’t enough to make you catch your breath, you also have to buy wrapping paper, and depending on the number of gifts, their size and the type of paper you buy, that cost can add up quickly. Yet gift wrapping alternatives abound if you just look at some of the most common things in your house with fresh eyes and a penchant for frugality and innovation. Here are some fresh ideas for wrapping gifts cheaply, and, if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy the wasteful nature of gift wrap, more sustainably, too.

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Cut Leftover/Old Holiday Fabric Into Ribbons

If you’re a quilter, a sewer or other creative type and you happen to have some old holiday fabric lying around (or even fun old clothing), consider cutting it into strips to make creative holiday ribbon that is also reusable, according to the blog Living on a Dime.

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Repurpose Oatmeal or Cereal Boxes

Looking for boxes to wrap gifts in, but don’t want to spend money? Scan your cupboards for cereal and oatmeal boxes that you can repurpose — just take out leftover food and keep it rolled up in its plastic interior packaging, and voila! Gift boxes.

Holiday Imagery From Magazines

Have some brown paper or brown bags lying around you want to repurpose as wrapping? Glam them up by cutting out holiday imagery from recycled glossy magazines. A little scissors and glue can turn recycled materials into a fancy package.

Plastic Tablecloth

Do you have a gift that’s too big to wrap in conventional wrapping paper, such as a bicycle or giant teddy bear? Consider a plastic tablecloth, which will easily cover your item and be easily re-used after.

Reusable Fabric Gift Bags

For very little money you could easily make your own fabric gift bags, or purchase them cheaply on places like Etsy, according to Environment911.org. If it’s attractive, the bag itself can serve as an additional gift and stays out of the landfills.

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The Funnies

The colorful comics or “funnies” pages inside your newspaper make for fun gift wrapping if you can save enough. Even regular newsprint can make for an artsy feel, with a little gold, white or black ribbon.


Scarves are often colorful, lengthy, attractive pieces of fabric that can be repurposed as gift wrap and serve as a gift, itself.

Glass Jar

If you have a small- to medium-sized gift, you might be able to fit it into a recycled glass jar, maybe something that once held pickles or preserves. Cover it with a piece of cloth or wax paper, add ribbon or garnish with flowers or leaves.


From food to clothing items to gadgets and toys, baskets of all kinds and sizes make for great gift-giving containers. Throw a colorful napkin, cloth or towel over the top, and you’ve got an environmentally friendly and useful gift wrap package all in one.

Buy Old Wrap at Garage Sales

After the holidays are over, most people don’t want to hold onto extra wrapping paper that went unused. You’re likely to find it at a very big discount at garage sales in your own neighborhood for cheap, according to MoneyandBills.com

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Have old maps or atlases hanging around that you don’t use? These make for truly unique gift wrap that you can be sure no one else in the family will have used.

Old Calendar Pages

What better way to see the old year out on your calendar than repurposing those pages into holiday gift wrap. The blog I Do Have a Talent offers a tutorial for how to upcycle an old calendar page into a gift bag.

White Paper With Stamps

Have a bunch of printer paper and some stamps you can pilfer from your kids’ room? In fact, involve the kids in this fun activity of turning these two items into fun, colorful gift wrap that the whole family will appreciate.

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

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