Earth911 thinks these holiday items – with their ornate designs and fun messages – are simply too beautiful to throw out, even if they’ll get a second life as a recycled product. From placemats to ornaments, check out these cool ways to reuse holiday cards and gift wrap around your home and community.
1. Save gift wrap for next year
Many families already reuse gift bags and bows year after year to save money. But did you know you can also use wrapping paper and tissue paper more than once?
If you have pieces of wrapping paper that weren’t torn too badly during gift opening, domestic goddess Martha Stewart recommends ironing the paper on a low setting to flatten wrinkles. Then just roll it back onto the tube and save it for next year.
GiftDecorating blogger Gina even found a way to use tissue paper, which gets damaged and wrinkled easily, a second time. Crumble two sheets of used colored tissue into a ball, and then smooth them out to create an elegant, uniformly wrinkled look. Wrap your gift with the tissue and decorate with holiday images cut out from used wrapping paper or cards.
What if your leftover wrapping and tissue paper aren’t in good enough condition to use again? Follow this Instructables tutorial, which shows you how to run old wrapping and tissue paper through a paper shredder to create colorful shredded paper you can use to decorate gift bags and baskets or to pad gifts you’re shipping.
You can also upcycle this year’s holiday cards for next year’s gift tags. Simply cut out a gift tag shape and write your message on the blank side. Or, as Martha Stewart suggests, use a stencil to draw the recipient’s initial on the card and cut it out. Then, with either option, punch a hole in the tag and attach it to the gift with ribbon or yarn.
2. Spruce up your home
There are a number of ways to liven up your home’s décor with this season’s wrapping paper scraps. Martha Stewart recommends using leftover wrapping paper to line a drink-serving tray before your next party or to cover old tin cans to store pens and pencils in your office.
Fish Lips Paper Designs, which sells recycled-content wrapping paper, offers these uses for cast-off wrapping paper: matting in picture frames, drawer liners and covers for plain bulletin boards. You can also wrap old shoeboxes in the paper to create attractive storage boxes, or frame wrapping paper scraps with cool designs to add to your home art collection.
3. Make next year’s holiday decorations
Who needs to buy pricey holiday decorations when you can make one-of-a-kind decorations using this year’s leftover greeting cards and wrapping paper?
Grab wrapping and tissue paper scraps, a bow, a pair of scissors and a wire coat hanger, and you can make a lovely upcycled holiday wreath, following this Instructables tutorial.
And of course, Martha Stewart has a host of ideas for turning this season’s scraps into holiday décor: You can use holiday cards to create garlands and wreaths and wrapping paper for party hats, streamers and banners.
4. Get crafty
Just because your gift wrap and cards are from the holiday season, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them for year-round crafting projects.
Instructables features directions to upcycle shredded junk mail and wrapping paper into a decorative bowl that will look great on your bookshelf or could make a unique present.
5. Donate to a good cause
What if you want to make sure your holiday scraps get reused but just aren’t the DIY type?
Check local schools or reuse centers to see if they need donations of secondhand materials to use as art supplies.
You can also mail old greeting cards to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a nonprofit that cares for neglected and abused children. Under the organization’s recycled card program, youth learn job skills and receive an income by making new greeting cards out of donated cards.