Saving Money on Wrapping Paper

With Christmas, birthdays and other special events it's easy to go through a lot of wrapping paper in a year. All that wrapping paper can really add up. This is a page about saving money on wrapping paper.


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November 30, 2005

A few years ago my husband and I decided we were not wasting any more wrapping paper at Christmas time. It seems such a waste of money and natural resources to be throwing all that wrap out. So, I went to Costco and bought a big package of gift bags and tissue paper. We use these bags over and over again, year after year.

There is just the two of us at home so we use those bags for gifts to each other and then carefully fold them back up for another year. We also have gotten the family into it and we pass around gift bags for birthdays that have been going back and forth for years now. I love not having the big garbage bag of wrap and the guilt over wasting so much. It now costs us nothing to wrap our gifts too!


By justanothercowgirl from Ontario, Canada

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I had done this for years without thinking about it and then, when I had to move out of state, I decided to dispose of the fairly large collection of used gift paper I had and boy, did I miss it last year! This is why I have decided to start again, and maybe tell y'all about it too.

You don't think about it from looking at it, but 90% or so of all gift wrapping paper is perfectly reusable. We all know that 3 out of 10 gifts (especially for items such as books and clothes) can be eased out of the wrapping with no visible damage to the paper, and that then one can ease a similar sized book or object and reuse the paper in that instance. But that figure quickly goes up when we go through the trouble of salvaging as much of the wrapping paper as one possibly can from one's gifts.


Besides the technique mentioned above, a thrifty person can use an Exacto knife and carefully cut out the tape when opening the package, and salvaging most or all of the wrapping paper on said gift. One can also tell one's family members to save the paper and be respectful of it when opening the gift. One can easily even salvage a lot of paper that has been abused by cutting out the intact bits. Think of the many small gifts we are apt to give, a gift card, lipstick, a box of Whitman's Samplers - for which that small but nice scrap is good!

At the end of the gifting event (ie. Christmas or baby shower) I take it all home, put a fun DVD in the player, get scissors, Exacto knife, and a box. As seen in the diagram, I undo all tape, straighten the paper out as much a I can, put like with like: large together, small together, Santa's together, etc. and roll them up for storage.

This practice saves a significant amount of money, but is also to me more respectful of paper and gift giving in general.

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December 14, 2007

Here are tips for saving money on wrapping paper as suggested from the ThriftyFun community. If you have a favorite technique that hasn't been suggested here, please post it below.


Stock Up Right After Christmas

If you save some money for after Christmas sales, you can get all the wrapping paper and supplies you need for the following year at 90% off. Don't buy the expensive paper (it just gets ripped apart).

By Chris A from Syracuse, NY

Keep Paper And Cards In House

Keep wrapping paper and all occasion cards in the house. I live 8 miles from town and this saves me a lot of money. Just yesterday, I bought 4 rolls of different kinds of wrapping paper, $.50 each, never opened.

By Betty G.

Decorate Brown Wrapping With Raffia and Pinecones

Brown paper bags can be used as gift wrap. Cut bags to lie flat, turn the printed side on the inside, and wrap your package. Then decorate! Add some raffia or natural-looking ribbon for an earthy touch. Add pine cones, dried thistles, or evergreen touches to the raffia if desired. Brown paper bags can also be block stamped with designs in ink or paint, hand painted, or crayon colored by the kids for even more interesting wrapping paper.

By Ness

Add Plants From Your Garden When Wrapping

I wrap gifts in brown paper bags, then tie ribbon around them, then tuck plants from my yard into the ribbon. Usually I can find something blooming. Otherwise, things with contrasting leaves can look good. Now that I've planted a rosemary bush in my yard, a sprig of rosemary is always included for a nice aroma.

This wrapping method is especially good if you find yourself wrapping gifts at the last minute anyway; then your flowers still look fresh when you present your gift. (It doesn't work so great for mailing, unless you dry the flowers first.)

The only cost is ribbon; I get fabric ribbon on clearance from fabric or craft stores (the skinny kind is extremely affordable even at regular price). It ends up looking very fancy even though I'm really wrapping it in a garbage bag and then sticking weeds into it.


Of course if kids or pets will be around, you might want to avoid poisonous plants like mistletoe. And if you're lucky enough to have a rose blooming, make sure to break off the thorns (just bend them sideways).

By Debbie

Use Thrift Store Scarves

I buy pretty scarves at rummage sales or thrift stores (they usually cost about a quarter) and then tie with a piece of ribbon. Your recipient gets two gifts!

By Susan

Freezer Paper and Ribbon

For affordable Christmas gift wrap, I have used freezer paper and used lots of curling ribbon in red and green (pretty cheap) to decorate the packages. This looks good under the tree as well as the gift.

By Faye

Use Toy Store Fliers

As Pauley mentioned about the newspaper comics, I would like to suggest something similar and even more economic - if you can believe that....

When we were growing up, we had VERY little money for extra things. In fact, Santa gifts were never even wrapped, but the gifts that we exchanged with each other were wrapped in flyers (circulars) from stores like Kmart, Zellers (Canadian, eh?) and other places that had toys in the flyer. My siblings and I used to spend a lot of time figuring out what was in the packages, since we were sure that the gift in the box was on the paper it was wrapped in.

I cannot convince my hubby that we should do this because his family always did things differently. Maybe when the kids are a little older, I will be able to get him to go along with this, because it is still one of my favorite Christmas memories!

By Steph

Deli Containers for Food Gifts

I can usually get the deli counter to give me a few extra clear containers that I use for packing holiday food gifts. Add a few stickers and a bow on top!

By Linda


I've purchased wallpaper rolls on sale ($1-$5) and used them for parcels, as well as covering plain photo album covers. Wallpaper and wallpaper borders can also be used for backgrounds and embellishments in scrapbooking!

By Tegwin

Dollar Store

I buy all of my wrapping paper at the dollar store. Usually they have a lot, and bunches to chose from, all for a dollar. It's not that bad.

By Alicia

Kid's Artwork

I bought a huge roll of white paper at Costco. I let my kids paint and color on it (as they would do on smaller paper every day anyhow). I am using that art work as gift wrap. I just wrap the gifts up and add reusable wired fabric ribbon as decoration.

By Dawn

Reuse Gift Bags and Make Your Own Tags

Some people may say that this is not the thriftiest idea, but I really like using gift bags. I mainly made gift baskets to give as gifts this year, and the bags are so much easier to package them in. The Dollar Tree has the best selection to me; even the huge bags are only a dollar (compared to $4-5 at Wal-Mart). Any gift bags that I receive with gifts, I save and re-use (much easier than saving and re-using wrapping paper) and encourage the rest of my family to do the same.

Another good idea I've found is to save last year's Christmas cards to make gift tags with for the next year.

By Cassie

Shredded Paper for Gift Bags

Since gift bags are so popular, and usually the gift is hidden in layers of tissue or shredded materials, I have found that instead of buying shredded material for these bags, just take all the colored advertising inserts from your newspaper, and run them through the shredder. Once shredded, you only see the many colors. Or instead of discarding the wrapping paper from your gifts this year, run it all through the shredder and store with your Christmas decorations to use in gift bags next year.

By Harlean from Arkansas

Paper Bags and Old Christmas Cards

I use plain brown paper bags (large grocery bags or small sandwich bags)cut open to wrap or just to put the gifts in and tape shut. I use old Christmas cards for decorating the bags. Cut out special pictures or verses with crafting scissors and paste on to the bag. Add a little glitter and or a small bow. Use rubber stamps or finger paints and put a child's hand print on the paper. It is fun and can be a family project.

By Carol

Tableclothes or Fabric

Buy the huge holiday table clothes at the Dollar Tree and use them as wrapping paper. Also the $1/yard fabric at Walmart - either make into reusable gift bags, or use as is as wrapping "paper".

Fabric Gift Bags

I have made gift bags out of fabric, then save them from year to year. This works with family, when the opening present event is here at my house.

By Sue

Check Big Discount Stores After Christmas

I find shopping the big discount stores the day after Christmas cuts the cost of buying wrapping paper (and many other Christmas things) to be about 1/4 the cost of buying these things just before Christmas.

By Igor

Use Cheap Craft Paper and Decorate

I recently wrapped several presents in plain brown paper that I bought at a surplus store for $.45 a roll! I decorated them with craft paints and they turned out so cute. You can use markers also or cut out magazine pics, dip in a mixture of Elmer's glue and water and apply them to the package. Your presents will be original if nothing else! It doesn't have to look cheap because you meant to do it.

By Denise Sumpter Foy

Recycle Wrapping Paper

Don't forget to recycle wrapping paper afterwards (if you're not refolding it and saving it). All but the metallic paper can be recycled.

Another idea is packaging paper. I'm so frugal I use things that come my way but don't cost anything at all. A friend recently moved to my town and had a four foot stack of clean newsprint she had bought and used to move. What a gold mine! Wrapping paper never got cheaper than free!

If you have a fireplace or wood stove though, remember not to burn commercial wrapping paper as some of the dyes still use lead and can be toxic when burned.

By Allison Dey

Frugal Gift Tags

Glue pictures you have cut out from magazines, coupon ads, etc. onto old/used business cards. Now use them for gift tags!

By GrammySheila

Watch For Sales

I live on the North Shore in Massachusetts and we have many Building 19's. Right now they are offering 100 foot rolls of Christmas wrapping paper at $1. per roll. What a buy! Markdowns will start soon on the tags and cards so keep your eyes open in the fliers.

By Joesgirl

Save Pretty Paper Sacks

Every time I get a pretty paper sack from a business, I save it for wrapping paper. This would also work for plastic/mylar bags. Cut off the parts of the paper with print and you have a nice piece of wrapping paper.

By Jean Christian

Using Tinsel as Basket Filler

Pick up tinsel (icicles) cheap at the after-Christmas sales. Use it next Christmas as "nesting material" for your homemade gifts -- put a layer of tinsel in a Christmas-themed tin, cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then lay your homemade cookies, etc on top. Or use tinsel in a basket you've turned into a themed gift basket -- use the tinsel just like you would use easter grass in an easter basket, and top it with your goodies! Looks very festive and it's CHEAP!

By Becki in Indiana

Frugal Tips From Year to Year

What we do is we buy our wrapping paper from the .99 store and we buy a lot of it. Then we save it for years and years of use by keeping it in an old diaper basket we keep in the shed. Usually, when we buy our paper, we get 3-4 roll packages with multicolor pictures and some we don't even open until the next year! Also, we never buy tags. We take scraps of the paper we use and cut out the different shapes and write the to and from on them! Also, we don't purchase bows either. We create the by hand by holding a ribbon in the middle and wrapping them around our fingers 4-5 times depending on the size of the person's hand making them. Then we fold it in half and cut at an angle in the center to make the center. Then we unfold them and tie them with another piece of ribbon and open the bow by opening the bows by pulling them apart--every other bow going up and down back and forth. They are very fun for children to make!!

Another thing we do for wrapping paper, is use paper bags that have been decorated by drawing pictures on them using crayons or by rubbings with a leaf or other things under them! Wrapping papers are decorative and fun and at Christmas, children should be able to do more than just unwrap their presents!!

By Yvonne

Save Gift Tags With Free Address Labels

I get a lot of free address labels, most of them come with a few gift tags that stick on just like a sticker! Save them all year and you might not have to buy any labels, I didn't!

By Kay N

Buy Clearance Bows After Christmas

Buy a couple of bags of bows after Christmas. If you can find some no-holiday colors, get them. Then you have bows on hand to match any birthday or other occasion gifts.

By Linda

Foreign Language Newspapers

I search for newspapers in foreign languages that have been left behind at bus stops, coffee houses etc. Asian writing looks especially good. i buy the little plastic flower stem holders,from my florist, the ones that hold water, with the small plastic top. wrap with newsprint, then tie the flower holder on. put a little water in the container and any "live" sprig first.

By marsha

Saving Gift Bags, Bows And Tissue

I do use gift bags but never buy them. I have a stash of all sizes because I carefully save the bags, bows and even the tissue paper received from gifts. The bags are saved in a see-thru plastic over-the-closet-rod container I bought on sale at a discount house just for that purpose. The tissue paper is smoothed and folded, then housed in a large shirt gift box, and the bows are stored in another box on a shelf. If tissue paper is too wrinkled, iron it on top of a bath towel before reusing. Sometimes I use several different colored tissue papers in a gift bag for more visual impact.

By Ronsan

Green Alternative for Wrapping

For this next Christmas, I am not going to wrap my presents in paper or put them in paper gift bags instead I am making cloth gift bags so I can save on buying paper and I won't be using any paper that will eventually wind up in a landfill.

By Athena

Paper Curls

Almost any lightweight paper can be used to make curly decorations on top of a package. First cut the paper into narrow strips. Next run it between your thumb and the edge of a scissors, just like you would with "curling ribbon."

I have not tried this with strips from a paper shredder. It might be too thin and would break easily.

By Garnet Parker

Thrifty Gift Wrap

For gift wrap, don't overlook your possibilities: newsprint, postal paper, architectural drawings or maps.

By Terri H.

Kraft Paper

Plain kraft paper or white rolls of paper look cute if decorated with a child's handprint or with rubber stamps. I have also found that you can't beat the cost of both cards and gift wrap from the mail order catalog Current. Their large rolls are very economical.

By Renee

Mylar Balloons

I always save mylar balloons. Cut around the edge and you have two round pieces of wrapping paper. You can place the gift in the center, then pull the paper up and tie with a piece of curling ribbon also saved from that balloon bouquet. I have wrapped bridal or house warming gifts in bath towels and dish towels. The last lingerie shower gift I gave was a matching black bra, panties and half slip. I put the bra and half slip in a white shirt box then stretched the panties from corner to corner on the outside of the box in place of a bow.

By Ronda

Buy Plain Gift Bags on Sale

Instead of buying lots of different kinds of gift bags, buy them in solid colors of various types and sizes when you see them on sale. Then buy various themes of tissue paper to use to fit different occasions. You can find tissue paper of various themes at dollar stores. Also, buy an all occasion box of gift cards for when you need them. I found some the other day at the dollar store where I got 20 for $2.00. With all the gift giving at my house with my kids, husband for co-workers, etc. this really saves money. Take care and blessings! By PeggyGV

By ThriftyFun

Exchange Homemade Gift Bags

I do not buy wrapping paper. I make my own bags out of material. the best idea is to get everyone making bags in the family and that way the bags are always rotating. In my house, all 3 of us use homemade bags.

By Shakespeare

Have Little Crafters Decorate

If you have little crafters in the family, use Christmas stencils on paper bags and a sprig of holly or pine bough and small cone to sit on the top this way you recycle and have a work of art signed by the artist. You won't need a name tag just write on the paper!

By Loretta

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Use the funny papers for wrapping Christmas presents. My mom and dad did this at Christmas. We all enjoyed reading the funnies after we opened our presents.

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December 3, 2012

I make simple cloth bags from fabric remnants or clothes that have seen better days, curtains, sheets, even pant legs, and cloth napkins. Kids recognize a favorite flannel shirt every birthday or Christmas, forever!

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November 10, 2010

Use freezer paper for gift wrap, you can stencil it, put cute stickers on it, or just leave it plain.

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November 7, 2017

If you want to help our environment as well as save money then stop using wasteful, polluting bubble wrap and tape for wrapping and posting your gifts. Look instead at using almost free and stylish products like corrugated card and old fashioned string. Corrugated cardboard can be found at any supermarket, where they throw their used packing materials.

Gifts wrapped in corrugated cardboard with white string.

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November 19, 2008

You get a gift that is wrapped with beautiful paper or a beautifully decorated gift bag with lovely tissue paper and you would like to save and reuse the gift paper or the tissue paper, but it's all crumpled and creased.

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December 11, 2000

Don't buy new Christmas wrapping paper if at all possible. There are lots of things you can use instead; try to recycle and reuse instead.

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December 14, 2006

Ikea Art Paper For Gift Wrap. I found a large roll of paper, designed to be used with a child's art easel at Ikea. It has a wonderful vellum texture and does not rip easily.

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January 14, 2017

This is a page about using butcher paper for gift wrap. Butcher paper makes simple classic looking gift wrap and is easy to decorate if you want a more personalized style.

A gift wrapped in butcher paper.

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January 11, 2017

This is a page about using wallpaper for wrapping presents. Wallpaper is sturdy and comes in many colors and motifs, making it a nice alternative to ordinary wrapping paper. Use leftovers from your last project or remnants found at thrift stores or yard sales.

Rolls of wallpaper.

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May 27, 2014

This is a page about frugal gift wrapping ideas. It doesn't have to cost much to create attractive wrapping for presents.

brown paper gift wrap

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September 1, 2009

My family thinks I am crazy when it comes to wrapping paper. One of my biggest pet peeves is when they cut out a small section and toss the roll back into the bin. then the remaining "tail" gets snagged and ripped and it ends up getting cut off anyway and thrown away; or worse, ends up tearing more paper and wasting more than they used in the first place. I have gotten them in the habit of measuring the package, cutting off the whole width of paper and then cutting the length that they need.

I buy wrapping paper on sale, so there are a lot of patterns in the bin at a time. Once the paper roll has been opened, I loosen the paper on the roll by twisting the paper backwards and pull the tube out. then I wind the remaining paper tighter by holding the paper on the inside with one finger and rolling the paper back until it is slightly smaller than the tube. I insert the paper into the tube and roll the paper back the opposite way to make it tight to the tube. I roll the scraps and place them inside the tube as well.

I use a small scrap to cover the bottom end because I store my paper in a vertical organizer . I write on the outside of the tube at the top what the paper is "kids b-day", "over the hill", "wedding", "baby", etc.

Now if there is a small package, everyone knows to check the inside of the rolls and it may save them time if there is a small piece they can use already waiting.

Source: My own frugal mind

By Janet from Stockton, IA

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