Sustainable Papercraft Christmas Gifts

Christmas cards and wrappings can be recycled year after year. Be a packrat and hoard papers, card, snail-and-junk mail. Seek out thrift shop bargains and hunt down old books that can be transformed into altered works of art.

Recycle Papers, Wrappings, Books, Cards and Magazines into a Christmas Collage

A Christmas collage is easily made by gluing shapes from old Christmas cards and/or pictures from magazines or even old gift wrap onto a sheet of sturdy card .There is no need to buy special card, using the side of an old cardboard box or something similar is fine. A3 is a useful size for the base of the collage.

Glue or acrylic medium and a sharp pair of scissors or craft knife are necessary. Craft paints and a hole punch are useful. Stamps or other printing implements are fun to add but not essential. Remember that printing can be done with leaves, bubble wrap, bottle caps and a myriad of other found objects.

The cardboard base may be painted over or left as is. Before gluing, shift the shapes around until satisfied with the overall pattern. Once the collage is finished, photocopy onto card or paper (or both). One completed collage will produce numerous items:

  • Christmas cards
  • Gift tags: guillotine tag-size cards, punch a hole in the top corner and slip a piece of string or ribbon through for tying
  • Cut bells, stars, angels and other Christmas shapes, glue two same-shaped pieces together with pattern on the outside. Punch a hole in the top and voila – a unique Christmas decoration. These shapes can also be threaded together with ribbon or string to make a garland. Knot the string at each side of shape to hold in place.
  • Gift wrap for smaller items
  • Personalise by including photographs, a special message or poetry that is meaningful to both recipient and giver
  • Sign and frame the original
  • Photocopying in black and white will be less expensive and may result in a more funky finish than the traditional Christmas colours

A bunch of cards or tags can be given as a gift with accompanying envelopes and stamps, perhaps to an elderly or disabled friend or relative who finds it difficult to shop for such things. The build-up of cards and postage throughout the year can add up to quite an expense for those on a tight budget. A great idea in this case is to make an un-Christmassy collage and make several birthday or special-occasion cards as a Christmas gift.

If there are few magazines in the household they can generally be bought cheaply at thrift stores, library sales and flea markets. Junk mail, used stamps and envelopes, pattern booklets (knitting, crochet, embroidery etc), music sheets and old brochures also provide useful materials for collage. Keeping loosely to a theme, for example florals, people, food, angels, sunshine or landscape – the list is endless – will give a nicely integrated look to the finished collage.

Turn Old Business Cards into New Christmas Gift Tags

Old business cards make great Christmas gift tags. Cut out seasonal paper to stick over the business details, or cover with paint then collage, draw, paint, print or stamp onto the reverse side. For a business operator, the details may be left in place, the reverse side decorated and the tag tied onto clients’ Christmas gifts – a handy marketing tool.

Altered Books made out of Recycled Books Make a Unique Heirloom Gift

Turn old hard-covered books into family heirlooms. For ease of handling a book of less than 50 sturdy pages is best. Sand the covers lightly and paint with white acrylic primer. Glue two or three pages together at a time and when dry paint with primer. Leaving some text or pictures exposed can make for an interesting background. Baking paper or plastic bags slipped between the pages will stop pages sticking together while drying. When dry, collaged pictures or text may be used; paint, print, stamp or draw on the pages. Write or stick recipes, a story, a special letter or poetry. An altered book makes a very personalized and special gift.

These ideas are great for kids but also allow adults to stretch their creative muscles. One doesn’t have to be a trained artist to enjoy handcrafting these gifts – imagination and forethought are the most important qualities required. The sense of fulfillment gained by recycling paper waste into gifts and cards is sure to be worth the investment of that elusive commodity, time.

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