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How to upcycle your gift wrapping paper

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Image: SAJE / Shutterstock

One of the most quintessential holiday images is the sight of gifts wrapped and placed beneath the tree. Gift wrapping paper designs are often so exquisite that it feels like a shame to crumple up the gift wrapping and throw it away after the gifts have all been opened. Many people dutifully toss used gift wrap into the paper recycling bin, which is a wonderful gesture to do for the environment.

But gift wrapping paper can have many uses long after the holiday season has ended. Another option for used gift wrapping is to upcycle it instead of recycling it. With upcycling, your used gift wrapping paper doesn’t go immediately into the recycling system. It not only stays out of the system longer, but it can help replace and reduce the need to purchase other new items. Here are some interesting ways to upcycle your holiday gift wrapping paper.

Packing Material

Styrofoam peanuts, foam and bubble wrap are all popular materials to use when packing a box holding delicate items. But these are all extremely harmful to the environment, both in their manufacturing process and in landfills.

Make your own environment-friendly packing material by running your used gift wrapping paper through a shredder. The shreds will be colorful and clean, as well as providing plenty of protection for fragile items. If you don’t need that much packing material right after the holidays, just fold the gift wrapping and save it along with your other packing materials for shredding later, and mailing gifts to friends and relatives throughout the year.

Litter Box Liner

Stores sell litter box liners that cat owners use to keep the litter box relatively clean. Using a litter box liner is essentially a good idea, since washing the litter box can use up an inordinate amount of water; another precious resource.

Instead of using plastic litter liners, simply use multiple layers of used gift wrapping paper to line your cat’s litter box. The layers of paper will absorb wetness and odor, and you can replace as needed with more used gift wrapping paper.

Boot Form

Those gorgeous new boots you received as a gift might not be in as good form after you break them in. The tall part of the boot may droop, causing noticeable creases in the leather or man-made material.

You could go out and buy a boot form, but you can also stuff your boots with tightly molded, used gift wrapping paper. When you remove it from your boot leg, it will retain the form of the boot, allowing you to reuse it again and again. Just be sure to crumple the gift wrapping paper so the print side is inward, to avoid any color bleeding if the boot is damp from outdoor wear.

Vehicle Floor Protector

In winter and spring, you and your family will be getting into your vehicle with wet, snowy or muddy footwear. The carpet on the floor of your vehicle, or your car mats will get messy and possibly ruined unless you put something down for protection.

Used gift wrapping paper can help protect the dirtiest boots and shoes from creating a huge mess on the floor of your vehicle. Just spread out the gift wrapping paper and replace as necessary.

Shoe Wrap

Are you going on a trip after the holidays? Figuring out how to pack your shoes so they don’t soil or harm your clothing is always an issue when packing a suitcase.

Keep your shoes from soiling the rest of your apparel by wrapping them in used gift wrapping paper. Both your clothing and your shoes will be protected.

Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations can be bought, but why not make your own personal decorations using gift wrapping paper?

You can make whimsical paper craft decorations using images cut out from the paper, or simply wrap small jewelry boxes with the paper and install a yarn or wire hook for display on your tree.

Handcrafted Greeting Cards

Instead of buying a standard greeting card, why not make a collection of your own custom greeting cards for use throughout the year?

Carefully cut out images from used gift wrapping paper and use them to decorate handmade greeting cards. Add bits of decorative ribbon and write your personal message inside.

Drawer and Shelf Liner

Almost every drawer and shelf in your home will be better with the addition of shelf liner paper. Instead of buying specialized shelf paper, just cut out the size you need from a large sheet of used wrapping paper. If you like fragrant shelf liner paper, you can even spritz the gift wrapping paper with your favorite scent.

There are many more ways to upcycle gift wrapping paper in the home and workplace. What are some ideas that you’ve come up with to upcycle your used gift wrapping paper?

Kate Supino is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing her research and experience with readers everywhere. She lives in sunny South Florida.