Fun ways to re-use gift wrap with cupcakes, table settings and more
There’s something about wrapping paper that turns even the most modern gal into a frugal Golden Girl. (Yes, I’m the one who tells recipients to “Save the paper!” when opening gifts.) Whether you’ve scavenged torn wrappings from under the tree or just have a surplus of rolls, you’re actually sitting on a goldmine of a versatile crafting medium that can go far beyond covering boxes. It’s easy to cut and fold and needs little more than a piece of tape to secure. Oh, and need I mention that it’s way cheap right now thanks to post-holiday sales? Here is a handful of ways to indulge your passion for paper-crafting with wrapping paper.
Confetti Circle Paper Garland
Difficulty level: Moderately Easy (Skill needed: Cutting out circles, sewing)
Time investment: 30 minutes, depending on desired garland length
Crepe paper streamers are cute in a retro way, but a garland of confetti-like circles is the more grown-up answer to party decorations. It almost goes without saying that this project is far easier if you have a circle cutter (they average about $15-20 at major craft stores like Michael’s), but if that’s not in your supply drawer, try this tip for quickly making a perfect circle template: Push the end of a thread spool onto an ink pad, then stamp onto the blank side of the giftwrap. Once you cut out a few handfuls, use a sewing machine to stitch together into a garland. Hang from the ceiling, mantel, doorway or even a ceiling fan for an exponentially more festive atmosphere.
Gourmet Cupcake Wrap
Difficulty level: Easy (Skill needed: The ability to cut on a line)
Time investment: 3 minutes per cupcake, if that.
First of all, you just have to love a project that includes cupcakes as part of the recommended supply list. This cut-and-tape craft disguises a store-bought confection’s wrapper, so it looks like you lovingly baked it yourself. (It also hides an overly-browned cake bottom in case you took a detour on the homemade route.) Giftwrap is ideal for making the little “skirts," since its glossy covering tends to resist the spotting that can occur when buttery icing meets paper. Needless to say, this idea is extra useful for the upcoming bake sale season.
Recycled Giftwrap Placemats
Difficulty level: Easy (Skill needed: Cutting out a straight rectangle)
Time investment: 3 minutes, including measuring
Have you ever tried to buy a nice tablecloth? It’s harder than you’d think because everyone has moved on to placemats. But if you’re having a party, it’s not really budget-friendly to buy a bunch of mats. Instead, cut them from paper. I like the thought of mixing patterns to create a modern patchwork-quilt effect on the table. Speaking from experience, this is a life-saver when kids are part of the guest equation. Include crayons and you’ll buy yourself a little extra peace and quiet.
Difficulty level: Easy (Skill needed: Paper folding)
Time investment: 5 minutes per pinwheel
These little rosettes remind me of paper fans and amazingly enough, they’re made in a similar way. You start by taking two strips of paper of equal width and height, then folding each like an accordion. (Since you’re using lightweight wrapping paper, you don’t even need to use a bone folder.) Grasp the ends of each, forming a teeny fan, then tape together to create a full rosette. So, what to do with them besides admire? Original creator Lesley at Words & Eggs attaches them to baker’s string to create little garlands, but I like to hot glue the pinwheels to bits of magnetic strips. Your grocery list has never looked so fancy, trust me.
DIY Napkin Rings
Difficulty level: Easy (Skill needed: Evenly cutting pape
Time investment: 5 minutes per ring, if using cardboard core
The idea of a napkin ring is a bit on the formal side, but ones made from paper seem less stuffy. To make these versions super-quick, simply cut a 2”-wide strip of paper to fit around your rolled (or bundled) napkin, then tape the ends together. But for a reusable alternative, first cut a cardboard paper towel (or the wrapping paper’s roll) to a 2”-tall ring, then cover with the paper strip. Extra credit: The original creator of this napkin ring project, MayaMade, uses the inside of a security envelope as a covering. Genius.
Get the free DIY napkin ring tutorial at MayaMade!
Custom Tile Coasters
Difficulty level: Moderately Easy (Skill needed: Decoupage)
Time investment: 15 minutes per coaster, not including drying time
You can really never have enough coasters, since they can readily go beyond protecting tables from condensation rings to acting as makeshift trivets or pattern weights. A full set is really simple and inexpensive to make, especially if you have any tiles leftover from a home project. (Otherwise, you can find them for less than a dollar a piece at any hardware or home improvement store.) Just apply a coat of decoupage medium like Mod Podge, place a piece of cut wrapping paper on top, then cover with a protective top layer of Mod Podge. The hardest part? Waiting for your handmade coasters to dry. For a truly waterproof finish, Mod Podge will take about two full days to cure. After that, feel free to place the chilliest of martinis on the finished coaster without a care in the world.
Difficulty level: Moderate (Skills needed: Photography, careful cutting)
Time investment: 45 minutes per silhouette
A patterned wrapping paper background puts a new twist on the ongoing trend of silhouette art. And with this shortcut from designer Patricia Cass, you can quickly create custom silhouettes for every member of your family: Just take a side-profile photo of your subject, enlarge to fit inside your photo frame, then carefully cut around it for a traceable template. Easy and impressive.
Woven Paper Basket
Difficulty level: Moderate to Advanced (Skills needed: Weaving)
Time investment: An hour per basket, depending on size
Basketry just sounds like a hard-to-do craft, doesn’t it? But as creator Jane Patrick assures us, it can be thought of as three-dimensional weaving. When using paper, it’s a bit like creating the candywrapper chains that you might’ve made in grade school. See, not so intimidating. Once you get the hang of weaving strips of cut wrapping paper, you can try other materials like wallpaper samples, maps and even the Sunday comic pages (for as long as they’re around, at least). The finished mini-baskets are useful for holding pencils or snacks, last-minute hostess gifts and for generally impressing everybody.
Get the free woven paper basket tutorial at Craft Zine!