At the end of the holiday season, we are left with homes full of decorations, full of accumulated trash and full of sentiments past. We have to do something with it all. We have to choose what goes in the garbage, what gets donated, what gets re-gifted, and what gets stowed away in the attic for next year. It’s a sure sign that the festivities are over.

Used and remaining wrapping paper are often discarded, as are the year’s holiday greeting cards, but perhaps those should get some extra consideration. Unfortunately, they are often not recyclable, which means they’ll likely ended up being jammed into our already overstuffed landfills. However, they can be repurposed in many different (and useful) ways.

So, before tossing out all that wrapping paper and all those cards, consider whether or not these might be a good idea for you.

They could be next year’s holiday decorations.

Wrapping paper

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Generally, cards and wrapping paper have lovely patterns and pictures expressing the joy of the season. We often admire wrapping paper or get a laugh from a greeting card. Instead of tossing them all aside, consider using them for making next year’s decorations. They could become origami ornaments, DIY advent calendars, framed “art” or holiday postcards. Then, at least the resources spent making them can’t get at least one more use, if not more. Plus, it’ll save some cash on next year’s décor.

They can go into a holiday scrap book.


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While most of us live our lives online these days, including keeping our memories there, scrapbooks are a much more tangible way to remember events and people. Leftover wrapping paper (or salvaged scraps) and meaningful cards could go into a scrapbook for remembering the past holiday. They could work in a scrapbook as backgrounds or features. Something like this could be a really evocative memento for children later on or parents now.

Wrapping paper can be a festive or disposable table runner.

Wrapping paper, particularly remaining bits on the roll, make great table runners. They can either be saved to create one for the next seasonal table, or they can be turned upside down to be a blank, disposable runner (or table cloth) at the next party. The blank side would be great for kids’ parties: Just imagine adding a few crayons to the mix.

They can be shredded to make confetti.

shredded confetti

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For those who are really into using their shredders, this would be a fantastic task. Rather than throwing away wrapping paper, whether it has been used or not, just fold it up and run it through the shredder. Most of the time wrapping paper is really colorful and shiny anyway. Once it is shredded no one knows what it’s theme used to be. They just know it looks like a party now. This, obviously, works great for a New Year’s Eve gathering, but it could be used for a birthday, Mardi Gras, and whatever other kind of party.

Shredded paper and cards make great packing material.

Packing material

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Rather than paying for bubble wrap or packing material, we could just make use of the resources we’ve already got. Shredded paper and cardboard are perfect packing material for mailing stuff or moving stuff. Why spend more money for something else new and from the store that works just the same as what’s already around? For that matter, why not just keep the wrapping paper confetti from the previous suggestion and use it for packing material! That’d be triple-duty paper.

They make great drawer and shelf liners.

Wrapping paper

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Many of us like to jazz up our drawers and shelves with liners. It looks snazzy and protects the wood or laminate. Wrapping paper is great for doing this. It’s just about the right size, and it usually has some sort of finish on it to make it more durable than standard paper. The paper could either be used pattern side up if that’s desirable, or it could be put pattern side down for a more subdued take. Changing out the liners could become an annual tradition after the holidays.

They are great for arts and crafts projects.

holiday crafts

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For those who do arts and crafts, wrapping paper has tons of great uses. For example, it can be cut into long triangles and rolled into paper beads to make bracelets and necklaces. This is a fun and easy project even children can do. And, old holiday cards should be really useful because craft projects are always calling for a little cardstock. Rather than going out and buying a new piece, we could just repurpose what’s already around.

As environmentalist and conscious people, saving and repurposing things is something that should always be on our mind. Minimizing our waste stream is important on many levels: conserving landfills, conserving resources, saving money and utilizing what we’ve got. Just as important, if not more, we should be looking for ways to avoid stuff like unrecyclable wrapping paper all together.

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