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How-Tuesday: Upcycled Gift Wrap

Dec 13, 2011

by Virginia Kraljevic

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(Music by I’m From Barcelona)

Last week we showed you how to package your gifts in new and fun geometric shapes. For this week’s How-Tuesday, we’re returning to a traditional style of gift wrapping, but with a modern, upcycled twist. All of the materials you’ll need for this how-to are readily available around the house, so if you’re in a pinch and need to wrap a gift quickly, give this method a try!

Decorative Wrapping Paper

  • Paper shopping bag
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Wine bottle cork (rubber cork preferred)
  • Utility knife (please note that using a utility knife in this project is not advised for children).
  • Ink pad, household paint, or correction fluid


  • To make a homemade rubber stamp, take one end of your cork and make slight incisions with your utility knife around its edge. For a star/snowflake-like pattern, cut 3 to 4 triangle shapes on the edges of your stamp. Remove excess rubber/cork from your design so your pattern is raised a bit from the rest of the cork.
  • Lay your paper shopping bag flat and cut as big a rectangle as you can out of one side. Remove shopping handle if there is one.
  • Place the clean side of your paper up (the side without any logos) and decorate with your rubber stamp and ink pad. Let dry.
  • After the paper is fully dry, place the newly decorated surface face-down.
  • Place gift box upside down on top of your paper. Make sure there is enough paper to cover the box — this can be done by pulling two sides of the paper over the box to meet in the middle. You want a little excess paper in the center to assure that your box is entirely covered. Tape the center down with a piece of masking tape.*
  • You’ve essentially created a paper tunnel around your gift box. The flaps of paper on either end of your box should not be too long. You can gauge what is an appropriate length by folding one side down to meet the bottom — it should almost reach the bottom, but never should be longer (this makes it very difficult to wrap). Cut excess paper until you have desired length.
  • Take one side and fold the top part of your flap down, push the corners in to meet the box and crease the newly formed triangle-shaped flaps to a crisp fold. Fold these triangle flaps in and crease again, creating one triangle shape. Fold up and tape down flap. Repeat on the other side of your gift.

*For a more decorative tape effect, cut your masking tape strips 2 to 3 inches  in length. With your scissors, you can slightly fold each end in half and snip the end off at an angle toward you (it will look like you are cutting off a triangle). Open up ends carefully and repeat to the other side of your piece of tape.

Foil Topper


  • Foil
  • Scissors
  • Stapler


  • Rip off 6″ of foil from the roll and cut into 2″ strips lengthwise.
  • Fold each piece in half lengthwise and smooth flat with your fingers to create 1″ strips.
  • Cut each strip into thirds and place over one another into a star-like pattern. Staple the center to hold in place.
  • To fringe the ends of each piece with your scissors, cut each flap into little slivers. Fluff up for a fun bow effect or leave flat for snowflake/star shape. Add a little loop of tape to the bottom of your topper and adhere to your gift box. Voila!

Stay tuned next week for another How-Tuesday video with Virginia Kralvejic and Abby Walton!

More Things to Make Holidays on Etsy


  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 9 years ago

    Cute! I love getting presents wrapped in unique wrapping papers. This makes it even better!

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 9 years ago

    Long live the upcycled gift wraps!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 9 years ago


  • RetroRevivalBoutique

    RetroRevivalBoutique said 9 years ago

    Such great ideas, and they make such a sweet presentation! ^__^

  • PeachesNBerries

    PeachesNBerries said 9 years ago

    <3 cute

  • driftforever

    driftforever said 9 years ago

    love this!

  • peshka

    peshka said 9 years ago

    So cool ! this is beautiful !!!

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 9 years ago

    Wonderful ideas, thanks for sharing.

  • WISHsupplies

    WISHsupplies said 9 years ago

    great idea! I love it!

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer said 9 years ago

    Love the tin foil bow!

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer said 9 years ago

    Love the tinfoil bow!

  • mstooke

    mstooke said 9 years ago

    so inspiring!

  • agentbananas

    agentbananas said 9 years ago

    I love upcycling! This is a great way to upcycle all the way around!

  • mikimartinez

    mikimartinez said 9 years ago

    WONDERFUL!!!! xxx from Spain

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 9 years ago

    Great !

  • good4you

    good4you said 9 years ago

    yay ! i have a upcycled gift wrap option for my teas, using the paper bag method . i am so happy to see this blog post reflecting on how easy it is to make gift wrap by reusing virtually anything around us <3

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign said 9 years ago


  • JanClizerPaintScots

    JanClizerPaintScots said 9 years ago

    love the 'understated class' of a paper bag....I normally use twine or raffia - the tinfoil is a great new twist!

  • Apseed

    Apseed said 9 years ago

    So easy and unique!

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 9 years ago

    I use newspapers, magazine pages & saved ribbon to wrap items from my shop. I've never tried the tin foil though. Great idea!

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 9 years ago

    So creative and artistic - key to good upcycled presentations!

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 9 years ago

    cute! great idea

  • ironweeds

    ironweeds said 9 years ago

    It's great that it's quick and easy, since most people use the whole " i don't have time to do upcycled gift wrapping" and just end buying wrapping paper. great post!

  • ElysianOrganics

    ElysianOrganics said 9 years ago

    Great idea - recycling rules!

  • minouette

    minouette said 9 years ago

    I'm using proofs of my prints on newsprint to wrap all my gifts this year! Love the simple tutorial and simple materials. You can use the good ol' potato stamping method too.

  • SacredandProfane

    SacredandProfane said 9 years ago

    Fantastic! Love it! Thank you!

  • EmmasLittleBows

    EmmasLittleBows said 9 years ago

    Great idea!! Looking forward to using it!! I esp. LOVE the foil bow!! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  • knottysarena

    knottysarena said 9 years ago

    great idea!

  • PhoebesFibers

    PhoebesFibers said 9 years ago

    wine cork stamps! who knew? awesome..

  • linguaNigra

    linguaNigra said 9 years ago

    looove it! Virginia I love your new haircut!!!

  • AGirlandHerDogShop

    AGirlandHerDogShop said 9 years ago

    Fun! I also once used an apple or pear and cut a design into it then used it as a stamp! Good for one day only :)

  • KeenlySeen

    KeenlySeen said 9 years ago

    Cookie cutters work very well, too, especially for little hands :)

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle said 9 years ago

    Love it when people use imagination to make things special. Great post!

  • KaiceJoy

    KaiceJoy said 9 years ago

    Great idea and super cute!!

  • bedouin

    bedouin said 9 years ago

    easy to do ~ and thoughtful

  • krstnlb

    krstnlb said 9 years ago

    cuteness x 10!

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 9 years ago

    I like to use my childrens art work for the special and personal gifts.

  • WhatFaux

    WhatFaux said 9 years ago

    Can't wait to try this.

  • noraalice

    noraalice said 9 years ago

    So cute! Love the stamp idea!

  • yorkiema123

    yorkiema123 said 9 years ago

    Why spend money on store bought decorations? Its more fun to do it yourself. The reciever of the gift, will appreciate it!

  • FritzandFraulein

    FritzandFraulein said 9 years ago

    This is awesome! I'm seriously going to wrap my gift for book club tomorrow like this! Thanks for sharing! =)

  • VintageChinchilla

    VintageChinchilla said 9 years ago

    Super precious! This past July I made the wrapping for my mom's birthday gift, really similar! Brown paper & a rubber stamp of a hibiscus! Looked great, yours does as well! :)

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 9 years ago

    Nice to see an emphasis on easy home made gift wrap, as well as a reminder that pressies can look great without spending stupid amounts of money on manufactured giftwrap. However, I'm slightly bemused that you thought it necessary to give an essentially crafty community step by step instructions on how to wrap a rectangular box in a piece of rectangular paper.

  • HibouCards

    HibouCards said 9 years ago

    agreed! recycling and using what you already have at home for gift wrapping is a favorite thing of mine to do :)

  • inapigsear

    inapigsear said 9 years ago

    The bow is such a cute idea!

  • PurpleToedGypsy

    PurpleToedGypsy said 9 years ago

    fabulous ideas! Kitchen cabinet, here i come! that foil sparkles so beautifully!

  • elleestpetite

    elleestpetite said 9 years ago

    Using a wine cork to make a stamp, pure genius. Thank you for sharing.

  • zemphira

    zemphira said 9 years ago

    Love the foil!

  • CherylBrissonFolkArt

    CherylBrissonFolkArt said 9 years ago

    I keep a box full of weird and wonderful trinkets - bells, keys, rocks, stir sticks....I tie these onto my gifts with ribbon or twine and they turn brown paper-wrapped gifts into beautiful pieces of art!

  • LiddoKiddo

    LiddoKiddo said 9 years ago

    Wonderful Ideas!!!

  • glusk

    glusk said 9 years ago

    ooooh i am going to use my apple stamp!

  • gardenmis

    gardenmis said 9 years ago

    Love recycled gift wrap!

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas said 9 years ago

    I love the cork stamp idea. I'm always trying to find things to do with my ever growing stash. I always wrap gifts in newspaper and then let my kids draw all over them with whatever theme they want.

  • TheSpeckledKat

    TheSpeckledKat said 9 years ago

    I love re-purposing items and I love that you featured this! On the occasion that I forget to bring a bag to the grocery store, I always get paper, so that I can reuse them for wrapping later. Love the cork stamp idea, So cute!!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 9 years ago

    Great ideas!

  • HandmadeIsAllAround

    HandmadeIsAllAround said 9 years ago

    Good idea!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly said 9 years ago

    Wonderful ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  • traceydumont

    traceydumont said 9 years ago

    So cute!! :))

  • bongofish

    bongofish said 9 years ago

    love the cork idea -- really inspiring. great feature.

  • FullCircleRetro

    FullCircleRetro said 9 years ago

    I am so trying it..! =)

  • houndsome

    houndsome said 9 years ago

    Finding odd sized bolts, screws and other hardware in your "wonder box" in the garage can also be great for stamping. Do love the cork stamp idea!!!

  • hazaricreations

    hazaricreations said 9 years ago

    wow..very innovative !

  • ElizabethMD

    ElizabethMD said 9 years ago

    I love the tin foil fluffy. Definitely an idea I will keep in my box. :D

  • bravemable

    bravemable said 9 years ago

    Love this, thank you! I never thought of making a stamp from a rubber cork - great!

  • KnitKnit

    KnitKnit said 9 years ago

    Virginia has the best ideas - lookin' great darlin'! Love that you don't have to spend money on wrapping paper that will just get tossed anyways. Use what you got!

  • Staceface81

    Staceface81 said 9 years ago

    So cute! I never thought about using foil. GREAT IDEA!!

  • prettylizard

    prettylizard said 9 years ago

    Awesome idea! One other way to stay with the sustainability theme is to use scrap fabric for bows. My sister showed me that one. That way you aren't using any new items except tape!

  • Eosophobish

    Eosophobish said 9 years ago

    Love it!

  • TheGraveyardGirls

    TheGraveyardGirls said 9 years ago

    Super cute <3

  • shandke

    shandke said 9 years ago

    I especially like the bow! I'm going to try that with various papers and things that I have here.

  • irisgoth

    irisgoth said 9 years ago

    Love it. gonna try it at home with different materials!! very nice...

  • GiftsWithCharm

    GiftsWithCharm said 9 years ago

    Love it!

  • everydaysaholiday

    everydaysaholiday said 9 years ago

    Love the cork idea!

  • PopPartyPrintables

    PopPartyPrintables said 9 years ago

    Love recycled thing! wonderfull! thanks a lot!!

  • urbaneye

    urbaneye said 9 years ago

    How is this recycled? Isn't this just things you can find round the house which would have been used for something else? I'm not recycling my kitchen foil after I've roasted a chicken in it for wrapping gifts. Looks pants, surely we can do better than this?!

  • lemondrp333

    lemondrp333 said 9 years ago

    Toilet paper can also be used! Tampons make great paint brushes. Every christmas I got my gift in beer boxes!

  • maggpieseye

    maggpieseye said 9 years ago

    Cute idea and cutting the foil with your scissors is an easy sharpening tip too

  • CharmSchoolShop

    CharmSchoolShop said 9 years ago

    LOVE this, great idea!!

  • SkateBetty

    SkateBetty said 9 years ago

    Talented wrap artist.

  • irisbiran

    irisbiran said 9 years ago

    Original and wonderful!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 9 years ago

    Cute! I love handmade wrapping paper it just looks so much cooler and cuter : D

  • MAUDEmoderne

    MAUDEmoderne said 9 years ago

    like it.

  • Sixoclock

    Sixoclock said 9 years ago

    Love this post! All the items that I ship out are packaged "creatively". Cereal boxes, used manilla envelopes turned inside out, and liquor store bags (heavy paper) all find their way into my packaging zone. Sometimes I worry that the recipients might think I'm an alcoholic but really I'm not. Really.

  • GretaHoneycutt

    GretaHoneycutt said 9 years ago

    I have never thought of using white-out to stamp with; that's a fun twist. Another great thing to make stamps out of is old erasers! They are cheap, they are easier to cut with a utility knife, and you get a larger surface to work with. Also for any of you who work with clay (or have access to clay tools), the knives and chisels that you use to do detail work and texture on your clay are awesome for carving stamps!

  • cunningcatcrafts

    cunningcatcrafts said 9 years ago

    Definitely one for me to try :)

  • oldecityvintage

    oldecityvintage said 9 years ago

    Love the stamp idea.

  • feltstories

    feltstories said 9 years ago

    beautiful :)

  • mwells15

    mwells15 said 9 years ago

    I love original wrappings, they make the holidays so much better!

  • glasshooks

    glasshooks said 9 years ago

    I had to transform an old book once and saved all the pages I cut out. I've been (badly) sewing them together with bright colored thread to create large sheets of wrapping paper. I also use flour bags and old calendars. I must agree with urbaneye on this one, using new foil is not recycling at all...its just more bauxite extracted from the earth.

  • GiRLStreetVintage

    GiRLStreetVintage said 9 years ago

    That's so fab! To make the wrapping extra extra special also try using a scarf to wrap around the package, any extra at the ends can be tied up into a bow : ) GiRLStreetVintage

  • jacki650

    jacki650 said 9 years ago

    I LOVE these tips! They must definitely go in this list of Gift Wrapping IDeas >

  • darlicioushouse

    darlicioushouse said 9 years ago

    upcycled, reclaimed, repurposed, recycled...all wonderful ways to decorate. what a way to have fun with kids too! thank you for the inspiration.

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