15 Cheap, Clever, and Attractive Ways to Save on Gift Wrapping Paper


Most wrapping paper hits the trash or recycle bin as soon as the gifts are opened. But, you can avoid throwing your hard earned dollars along with the wrapping paper in the trash this holiday season by using a few clever alternatives. Here are several ways to save on holiday gift wrap, while still making your gifts look great. (See also: Reusable Gift Wrapping Ideas)

1. Dish Towel Wine Bag

Why not make the wrapping part of the gift by using a decorative dish towel? Try out Real Simple's idea for a dish towel wine bag, or wrap a towel around a nice bottle of olive oil, candles, or other round items to spruce up your gift. You can easily find cheap and pretty tea towels and dish towels at discount stores, home stores, and dollar stores, or use your own if you have a big collection on hand. (See also: 10 Great Wines Under $10)

2. Brown Mailing Paper

Rolls of brown postage paper can be used to make some decorative holiday gift wrap for a lot less than a regular roll of wrapping paper. Get creative and use stampers, unique ribbon, stencils, twine, paint, or glitter to add some holiday flair. Or, in similar fashion, transform economical, recycled brown craft paper using stickers to turn boring old brown into instant holiday wrap.

3. Seek Out Stores With Savings

These days, dollar stores have a host of gift bags and decent quality wraps, and it's hard to tell that some of these items only cost a buck. Target's dollar bin also has smaller rolls of wrapping paper around the holidays. For fancier wrapping papers at bargain prices, try places like HomeGoods and TJ Maxx, which always have some beautifully embellished, heavier-weight rolls near the checkout area at holiday time.

4. Jars, Tins, and Plates

You can upcycle medium and large-sized glass jars, or buy some cheap mason jars to gift all sorts of items. Dollar store holiday plates and tins also make great gift packaging. These items all work well for edible gifts, such as cookies and candies, as well as for small soaps and candles. Embellish your jars with glitter pens or paint to add a nice holiday touch, or simply add a festive ribbon. (See also: Where to Find Free or Cheap Mason Jars)

5. Potato-Chip Bags

Only Martha Stewart could come up with potato-chip bag gift wrap, which is not only clever and festive, but eco-friendly. Re-use a large, empty potato-chip bag by opening it up to reveal the shiny silver inside. After a good cleaning and drying, you now have some great foil wrapping paper, which is perfect around the holidays.

6. Shopping Bags

I never throw away good retail shopping bags, especially those that have decent handles, cool designs, or blank canvases. You can easily use these bags for gifts by dressing them up with bows and ribbons. Or, hide the store name on the bag with some clever holiday labels or stickers to make a one-of-a-kind gift bag.

7. Fabric

Use your leftover fabric scraps to make any gift look fancy. Fabric as gift wrap works great on just about anything, but I especially like to use it for candles, jewelry, and small home goods, where I just tie a bow around the top to make a little sack. Craft stores also have loads of cheap holiday fabrics for sale, which are great for the task.

8. Magazines

Try using some beautiful holiday-themed food, landscape, or flower pages from home magazines or retail catalogs for some nice wrapping paper. Or, use magazine pages based on color and pattern to make unique gift paper in whatever way you choose.

9. Tissue Paper

Tissue paper comes in almost every color and pattern and is a lot cheaper than regular wrapping paper. Use it to wrap odd-shaped gifts or stocking stuffers. I especially like the tissue papers that have a shimmery surface or glitter. Even dollar stores have a big selection of holiday themes and colors. (See also: Holiday Shopping at the Dollar Store)

10. Lunch Bags

Decorate the typical brown paper lunch bag with festive designs and stickers to make a unique gift wrap option. You can also punch holes in top and string the bag with holiday ribbon or use greenery sprigs and twigs from outdoors to make an ordinary, economical lunch bag look festive.

11. Maps

For a truly worldly feel this holiday, reuse old maps as gift wrap to make for some unique and stylish-looking presents. You may have some old map booklets hanging around or even scout some out at a flea market or thrift store for a few dollars. (See also: Great Gifts From the Thrift Store)

12. Collect and Reuse

If you haven't already been collecting and reusing the gift wrap you receive, you can at least start this year. At my house, we always have big collection bags under the tree while we open presents, so we can easily sort nice bows, boxes, gift bags, and wrapping paper to use again. You'd be surprised how much you can reuse and how far it goes towards next year's holiday season.

13. Boxes Only

When it comes to gift giving, a solid colored box in good condition and some ribbon may be all you need. Plain white shirt boxes look just great with any type of ribbon. Or, dress up a shoebox by covering it with decorative paper or paint to house your gift. This works great for breakables that you don't want your recipient turning the gift upside down in order to unwrap it. (See also: Money-Saving Gift Giving Hacks)

14. Kid Paper

Don't underestimate the little artist in the house for making some personalized, cheap wrapping paper. Use holiday art from school or hand your kids some blank white copy paper or a sketch pad and let them go to town with paint, markers, or crayons to make grandma's gift extra special this year.

15. Newspaper

Newspaper gift wrap can add an unexpected twist to someone's gift this holiday season. Think of the comics section for kids or whimsical gifts, the home and decorating section for small goods and the sports section for sports-themed items.

What are some of your favorite economical gift wrap ideas?

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Guest's picture

My family decided to forego the pains of wrapping, and just use old gift bags. Every year, they return to service from their closet box, are out under the tree, then back to the closet. Gift bags from every kind of occasion are welcome, Easter, Birthday, Anniversary, etc - the variety is more fun! The heartier the longer they survive. And whoever gets the Victoria's Secret bag is always in for a surprise (its only actually been VS that first time)!

Guest's picture

I love the tip about potato chip bags! Lays bags look very stylish. I wish they just weren't so greasy.

One time, I accidentally wrapped Christmas presents in birthday wrapping paper. So I just took a marker and wrote Jesus on it!

Guest's picture

We use a lot of gift bags in my family and they make appearances year after year. Some of them have been around for almost my whole life (23 years). Great tips for saving money and saving the environment too!

Guest's picture

I remember one year, as a child, my parents ran out of traditional wrapping paper and had to use tin foil. So half of our gifts were in festive wrapping and the other half in beautiful shiny tin foil. I actually enjoyed unwrapping the foil gifts more than the others because it was so unique and what kid doesn't like shiny things? (I know tin foil alone can be more costly than wrapping paper but this idea is super if the stores are closed on Christmas eve night and you still have presents to wrap before morning)

Guest's picture

We love these ideas and always prefer to share with others for saving on gifts.