5 Guilt-Free Giftwrapping Ideas

In a perfect world, we'd carefully unwrap gifts and save the paper for reuse next year. But tearing apart wrapping paper is about 98 percent of the fun, isn't it? Still, gift wrap accounts for much of the 25 percent spike in waste during the holiday season. Meanwhile, according to The Use Less Stuff Report, reuse of just two feet of ribbon per family would save enough of the trimming to tie a bow around the entire planet. That's a whole lot of ribbon.

If the mounds of colorful wrapping paper on your living room floor make you feel a little guilty-wasteful, even-here are a few creative reuse ideas to ease your conscience.

Tip 1: Off the Wall

The repetitive patterns of wallpaper are very similar to that of wrapping paper. Check your garage or closets for wallpaper scraps or samples you may have leftover. Create a reusable "Hollywood box" by wrapping a lid and box separately, or cover an old shoebox to put your gift into. Your box will be so pretty that the receiver is sure to reuse it to give another gift, or as a memory box or coupon holder in the off-season.

Tip 2: Art Collectors

Proud parents keep stacks and stacks of finger paintings, colorings, drawings, and other kid-created art. Wrapping gifts for grandparents and teachers with the pages is both eco-friendly and very thoughtful.

Tip 3: Counting Down the Days

The art on wall calendars can reflect everything from cute puppies to beautiful landscapes. Too bad they expire at the end of the year. Give them a second life as wrapping paper. Provided you haven't scribble appointments into the grids, those pages can make an interesting wrapping paper patterns, too. You might even consider marking uniform red Xs in date boxes to convey the countdown to Christmas, or circle birthdates for a personal touch.

Tip 4: Cover Songs

Old sheet music makes a great wrap for CDs, LPs, or just about any other gift. A festive red bow against the swirls of musical notes makes for a beautiful package.

Tip 5: Read All About It

Magazine covers, advertisement pages, newsprint, and especially the funny pages can all make great wrap. Tie the paper to the gift you're giving by using the cover of entertainment magazines for DVDs and the covers of food and home magazines for host gifts. Like sheet music, you can offset the black and white of newspapers with bright bows and sprigs of holly. Consider padding fragile packages with shredded pages, instead of buying packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

See more creative DIY tips on ways to save while you gift wrap at ThisOldHouse.com.