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How to Wrap a Gift If You Have Run Out of Wrapping Paper

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Crafts, cooking, and natural health are a few of the interests I enjoy writing about.

How to wrap gifts without wrapping paper

How to wrap gifts without wrapping paper

Ran Out of Wrapping Paper? No Problem!

I can remember being invited to a friend's birthday party. We were in second grade together. I think I had a crush on him. My father took me to the toy store to pick out a gift, and I was so proud of the toy truck I had chosen. I just knew that my little friend, Jeffrey, would love his gift. I could not wait to get home and wrap it up. I envisioned shiny paper and a big red bow. My gift would be the best gift out of all the gifts given on that special day.

There was only one problem. When I came home, my mother said she did not have any wrapping paper. I was so angry. I was angry at my mom for not being prepared and having that special paper ready to wrap up my unique gift for Jeff. I knew that if there was no paper, then there certainly wasn't a big red bow to top it off. I wanted to cry. My gift seemed small now, and I did not want to go to the birthday party anymore. My mother, sensing my grief, reached into the pile of old newspapers and retrieved the Sunday comic section from the pile. She grabbed scissors, red construction paper, and tape. She helped me to wrap the toy truck in the comic strip and cut out the shape of a red bow from the construction paper. We taped the bow to the top of the package, and I neatly wrote: "To: Jeffrey, From: Corey."

I was in awe. I stood back to look at the masterpiece that was created as if by magic. I knew no one else would have a present for Jeff that looked as great as mine. From that day forward, I realised that wrapping a unique gift can be more creative and original than store-bought paper if only you put your mind to it.

If you have a Christmas gift, birthday gift, wedding present or any other item that needs to be wrapped nicely and in a pinch, because you, too, forgot to get wrapping paper, here are some very simple and creative ideas. Using household products to wrap gifts is a great way to repurpose and recycle items. It is one way to go green in your home.

Brown paper bag wrapping

Brown paper bag wrapping

Brown Bag It!

Wrapping a gift in a brown paper bag is the ultimate way to recycle. The brown bag can be cut open and is usually big enough to wrap a decent-sized gift. The great thing about wrapping with a brown paper bag is that it is so plain that you can dress it up any way you feel is appropriate. I have used ink stamps to decorate brown bag wrapping, or you could just tie it up neatly with raffia strings.

Lay the bag on its side and cut out the smaller side panels of the bag with scissors. The small sides are the sides that help to dictate the folds of the bag. Once you remove those, you can open the bag and flatten the brown bag paper. Wrap your gift neatly and tightly. Besides the suggestions above, you could use fabric scraps to wrap around the center of your gift for a sweet touch. A nice holiday wrap would be to tie a small cookie cutter or tree ornament to the outside of the package. Yarn wound around the package and tied into a bow is also a nice touch. Simple might just be the best: take glitter glue and write the name of the recipient in large letters on the package for an elegant touch.

Map wrapping paper

Map wrapping paper

Map It!

Maps work wonders as an idea for wrapping a Christmas gift, Father's Day gift, a birthday gift for a little boy or something special for grandpa. They are an easy-to-use wrap because they are usually large and already flat. You can use the guides in the folds of the map to measure the amount of paper needed to wrap your gift.

If you have a local map here is a cute idea. Put a sticker on the outside of the package that states "you are here" with the gift receiver's name written on it.

Maps also allude to the contents of the package, which is exciting for the person who will open the gift. Is it a GPS? Dad might ask on Father's Day. Little boys might wonder if they are about to receive a long wished for a remote control car. I would wonder if tickets for some exotic vacation lay waiting inside for me. Whatever your gift may be, wrapping it in a map is just another great way to package a gift when there is no wrapping paper in sight, and using an item over again is good for the environment.

Aluminum foil gift wrap

Aluminum foil gift wrap

Foil It!

Aluminum foil is a standard household item. You may be out of wrapping paper, but chances are that you have a roll of foil in your kitchen drawers. Foil, like wrapping paper, rolls out nicely and is easy to measure when wrapping a gift. The advantage it has over traditional wrapping paper is that it does not need to be taped. Just by squeezing up the edges, you have secured the contents of your gift.

Foil adds shine and sparkle to your holiday wrapping. It can be dressed up nicely with ribbon, fresh or silk flowers, stickers, scrapbook cutouts, raffia, yarn, or cut strips of fabric. Foil wrap sold purposely for gift wrapping is much more expensive than household foil. Save a little money this holiday season and wrap in style by wrapping in foil.

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Read More From Holidappy

Newspaper wrapping

Newspaper wrapping

Newspaper It!

Not only do the comic strips from the Sunday paper work well in a pinch, but the entire newspaper can also be used as wrapping paper. The newsprint of the paper can give your wrapped gifts a classic, professional and exciting look. When short on traditional wrapping paper, newspaper is a smart choice as re-purposing the paper is good for the environment.

The classic style of the newspaper will make a good wrap for a holiday wrap or to wrap a birthday present, especially if used in combination with other common household products. Wrap strips of newsprint around a gift that you have already wrapped with aluminum foil and then tie them with a big, bright ribbon for an elegant gift-giving approach. Cut shapes like stars from your newspaper and adhere to a package that has been previously wrapped in a recycled paper bag and you have a charming and eclectic package. There are no set limits when using newspaper as gift wrap.

Scarf It!

Using a scarf is one of my favorite ways to wrap a gift. The great thing about using material around the home is that it is limitless. A scarf may not be handy so try wrapping a gift in a pretty hand towel or linen napkin, a fun printed bandanna works well and so does leftover fabric from a sewing project. Try a pillowcase or cut up an old sheet to wrap larger items.

Fabric, like an old scarf, can be elegantly tied around the gift. Use a rubber band to pull a knot over the top of the gift. Pull the loose ends through the rubber band and roll and twist them to tuck them under the rubber band and make a cute little flower-shaped knob on your gift.

For another cute wrapping idea with a scarf, place your gift in the center of the scarf. Take two opposite corners of the scarf and tie them over the gift. Take the other two opposite corners and tie those over the ends that you just tied. Voila! Your gift is wrapped as easily as tying your shoe.

© 2011 Corey


Bernadyn from Jacksonville, Florida on July 08, 2014:

I usually just use newspapers for my kids' gifts now because we always have them around. I am all for being green, reusing and finding creative ways to wrap gifts. I think as long as you can make it look pretty and presentable, it's fine! I like the map idea and never thought about using foil but will have to try.

Julie on February 21, 2013:

These are some great, sensible ideas for how to wrap a gift when you have run out of wrapping paper! Throughout the year, my family has many birthdays, on top of all the given holidays....I'll definitely be trying some of these!

Barbara Stickly on October 08, 2012:

The Sunday colored funnies used to be my favorite wrapping for holidays. Brown paper lunch bags with sparkly paint are another favorite.

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on June 26, 2012:


Thanks and I love that idea especially if you did calligraphy on note pages....nice!

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on June 25, 2012:

No wrapping paper? Not embarrassing anymore, I've learned from your tips! This is another green idea of gift-giving. Now I'm thinking old notebook pages beautifully tied around with a cute ribbon. I have so many scratch papers at home. I'm voting up, awesome and really useful! Thanks.

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on June 22, 2012:

Yes, go ahead and add the idea of wrapping gifts with kids' art if you like. I love your images to demonstrate your points by the way.

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on June 22, 2012:


thanks for the vote of confidence!

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on June 22, 2012:


That is such a great idea...I may have do update my hub!

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on June 22, 2012:

Starmom, that is too funny. Great way to begin the morning with a chuckle.

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on June 22, 2012:

This hub brings the essence of creativity, great hub cabmgmnt, i like the idea of newspapers and maps as wrapping papers. Voted up, beautiful and shared.

Starmom41 on June 21, 2012:

@Carly: I guess I'm too tired to be reading- I missed the words 'art work' in your comment and read it as 'using your kids as wrapping paper'!!!


Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on June 21, 2012:

I used to wrap presents out of the Sunday Comics too, when I was young. I also love to wrap presents with brown paper, that can also be used from grocery shopping bags.

Another great idea, is using your kids art work as wrapping paper. My kids make so much art and I can't save it all. Seeing their art on the outside of a present makes them feel proud.

Great hub.

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on June 21, 2012:

lol to Julie,

Sometimes I just write and say to heck with the niche. This hub came as a result of a story I shared on one of my blogs that was about my Mom. She used to wrap things in the Sunday comics a lot. I just took her idea one step further and it is one of my most popular hubs. Glad you liked it and "great minds think alike".

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on June 21, 2012:

I was just thinking about this topic today but couldn't find any keywords that were low to medium competition so I canned it. You did a great job!!! :) Voted up and shared!

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on May 11, 2012:

Thank you, The Ragged Edge,

It is those little heartwarming moments in life that make the best memories!

Bev G from Wales, UK on May 11, 2012:

Love your ideas and also the story about Jeff's gift - nice personal touch!

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on May 10, 2012:

Thanks Slackermom,

I appreciate the vote up! :)

Lisa Palmer from Attapulgus GA on May 10, 2012:

Great hub with some awesome ideas in it. Always love inexpensive creativity. Voted up and useful :)

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on May 09, 2012:

Peggy W,

Thanks for the kind words. I think it is important to re-purpose and recycle as much as possible and this is a small step in the right direction.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 09, 2012:

Great ideas! I have done some of this and for years cut out pretty pieces from greeting cards to be used as gift tags. Recycling is great!!! This should be a hub of the day. Voted useful and up.

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on May 09, 2012:

Hi barbergirl28,

I have done the Walmart bag wrap...and tied it with ribbon as if that would help it look I intend never to buy gift wrap again after writing this since I now feel it is a waste of money. Anything I can repurpose is best!

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on May 09, 2012:

These are great ideas... I am often... sadly... without gift wrap. It could be because I always forget to pick it up... or it could be because when I go to pick it up I am beyond grossed out by how expensive it is. I have used contstruction paper in the past... and I have also used the brown bad method. Recently, I have been saving the bags that we get gifts in and recycling them back. However, I have done the tacky walmart plastic bag wrapping as well... with a smile on my face that says... opps, but we ran out of time and this was the best I had! Cute hub with some great ideas!

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on March 12, 2012:


Thank you. If we can reuse and repurpose I am all for it. Glad you liked the hub.

assimilated on March 12, 2012:

Great Hub.

Since I've already switched from normal wrapping paper to whatever-can-disguise-a-present this is very helpful.

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on February 15, 2012:

Thanks! heart4theword.

heart4theword from hub on February 02, 2012:

Now that's a wrap! All of them are such great and marvelous ideas:) Thanks for the photos!

Karen S Falcon from Las Vegas, NV on December 26, 2011:


Nicole Forman from South East England on December 23, 2011:

I have done this before with the wrapping paper - i.e. used an old comic/magazine...the present looked great wrapped up in Tom and Jerry! Great hub...voted up! xx

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on December 23, 2011:

Thanks Rusticliving. After I wrote that I doubted that I would ever buy wrapping paper again!

Liz Rayen from California on December 23, 2011:

I LOVE ideas like this. There are so many ways to wrap a gift and it allows us to use our imagination and our creativity. I did the "newspaper" wrap a lot when I was younger.. never thinking it would be a craze..hahah who knew.. I coulda been a millionarie if I had copyrighted the idea! haha.. To make gift tags, I would take a cookie cutter and outline them on the Brown paper bags from the supermarket (before they went to plastic) and then color them or glitter them, etc. They stood out on the newsprint and added a touch of color against the black and white. Thanks for sharing. Happy to have you on my list of followers!

Voting this up and informative!

Blessings ~ Lisa

Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on December 20, 2011:

Thank you MomAdventures and Silwen. I had a memory flash of my Mother who helped me by wrapping a gift in comic strip paper and I just had to write this.

Silwen from Europe on December 20, 2011:

Wonderful ideas. Especially before Christmas. Thank you for sharing

MomAdventures from Michigan on December 20, 2011:

Great suggestions! :) Love the creativity...I've done a few of those before! :)

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