In past years, I’ve felt guilty about the amount of paper and gift wrap we buy that inevitably gets thrown in the bin and wasted. I usually buy recycled wrapping paper and cards, and have made my own. My family and friends appreciate the quirky designs a lot more than a generic shop bought design – it adds that extra personal feel to your Christmas presents. Have a try at these couple of ideas, which are cheap, fun to make, Christmassy, and so much better for the environment...
DIY Recycled Wrapping Paper
- 1 potato (or more, if you’d like to make more designs)
- A Sharpie or dark pencil
- Scalpel or small knife
- Ink pads (colour of your choice) or inks
- Recycled paper. I chose brown, but you can use anything neutral. I picked up this paper from Paperchase.
- Jute string
- Recycled gift tags. I got some from the Lemon Cat Shop on Etsy.
1. Cut the potato in half, and draw the design of your print onto the inside flat surface of the potato. Carving a stamp is quite difficult so try to keep your design simple and festive – I chose a Christmas tree. If you want to try a more technical design, lino, with the proper cutting tools would also work very well, or even an old flat rubber or eraser. However, I think a potato is simple, yet effective.
2. Use your scalpel or small knife to carve out the negative space around your shape. Bear in mind that whatever you cut away will not be seen once your put ink on the stamp. If you plan on doing this with kids, it’d be easier and safer to cut it out for them. You could get them to draw the design, though.
3. The stamp is now ready. Spread out the paper on a flat surface.
4. Press the stamp onto the ink pad or into the ink colours.
5. Stamp the design all over the paper and leave to dry for about 5 minutes. It should dry quickly.
6. Once dry, wrap your presents, and tie with jute string, and a nice recycled gift tag with the same stamp design or different.
7. Try and add a piece of real holly from the garden, or a piece of a winter tree for that extra ‘homemade’ touch.
I’ve made mine like this for the last 2 years and it never disappoints my family and friends. They also stand out from the usual, shiny shop-bought papers.
DIY Eco Friendly Chrismas Cards
There are a few ways to create different little Christmas cards – one is to repeat the same technique as the DIY wrapping paper above using a stencil design. I often find the simpler the design, the more effective.
This year I decided to collect some old twigs from my back garden in London to upcycle into mini Christmas tree designs for a more homemade feel. Here’s how to make them.
- Recycled plain cards. Again, I got these ones from Paperchase.
- Thin(ish) twigs
- Strong glue - I used quite a tacky one so that it’s easy to move bits of twig around before it dries
- Various Christmas coloured twine or embroidery threads. Try organic cotton, or recycled polyester threads, for a fully eco card
- Watercolours, or glitter, and paintbrushes (optional)
1. Lay out your card on a flat surface.
2. Firstly cut your twig into 3 separate sections to form the triangle base of your mini tree. Two sections should be the same, longer, length, and the third should be a little shorter.
3. Glue the edges of each section together with the tacky glue, to form a triangle. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute so to make sure the glue is fully dry.
4. Choose 1 or 2 colours of twine to wrap around your tree in different ways. Hold one end on the twig and wrap over this end to secure it. You could always use a tiny bit of glue as well. Wrap the twine around the separate twig sides, or around the whole tree, like a tinsel effect. You can secure the edges with glue at the back to make sure the string stays in place. I didn’t have any, but a lovely gold thread could look nice here.
5. Once you’ve finished wrapping the twine, and if you want to add an extra watercolour base onto the card, do so now – before you stick down the tree.
6. Add a few drops of glue on the back of the tree and down each side. Place it onto the card in the position you want.
7. After the glue has dried and your tree is fixed, you can always add a few finishing touches, such as a glitter or a watercolour star on top. Or even glitter baubles on your watercolour tree.
8. Write your card, seal, and you're done.
This is quite a free, creative technique; so try to experiment as I did with different types of stick trees. These would also work as homemade Christmas tree decorations. Just add a piece of string to the top of your mini tree and hang it onto your big tree. These could also be given as stocking fillers, or an extra little present.