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How to Upcycle Your Holiday Packaging

Reduce, reuse, recycle: The core tenets of sustainable living. But how to reuse, recycle, or upcycle the holiday packaging coming your way? We’ve rounded up fresh, new ways to reuse your boxes, cards, wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, bags, and so on. Read on!

For most of us, the holiday season fills our homes with cardboard boxes from items ordered online, leftover wrapping paper, plenty of holiday cards, and much more.

Wrapping paper

  • Use small pieces of wrapping paper to decorate envelopes or blank cards. Simply affix with tape or glue.
  • Shred or cut wrapping paper into confetti—ideal for special occasions
  • Using a hole punch and some string, fashion wrapping paper cutouts into festive streamers or a bunting.
  • Use wrapping paper to line blank shelves, drawers, or decorative trays.
  • Cut wrapping paper into placemats: Easy to make and easy to clean up.

Holiday cards

  • Gift tags: Cut the back off old cards and tape or tie the front to packages as gift tags. If you’re feeling a little craftier, cut the card fronts into different shapes or punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon to the tag.
  • Place cards: Cut a 2x3-inch piece from a card and fold in half. Add a ribbon for trim and a printed piece of paper with your guest's name.
  • Recipe cards: Re-use holiday cards as recipe cards to include with holiday food gifts.
  • Postcards: Cut the fronts from old holiday cards send them as postcards.

Gift/Specialty Containers

  • Repurpose candy or chocolate packaging into catchall box: The tiny compartments are perfect for earrings, paper clips, thumbtacks, and more.
  • Turn a cookie tin into a hot cocoa container: First, eat all the cookies...then clean out the tin and use it to hold hot cocoa packets or powder.
  • Use a small cardboard box as a pen holder or desk organizer: Especially useful for stylish packaging you don’t yet want to part with!
  • Use old jars as plant pots: Did you get any of those homemade mason jar craft gifts this year? Once you make the recipe or empty the jar, reuse it as a planter! Small succulents or cactuses are the perfect size for storing in jars. (Looking ahead, they also make a cute gift to give to someone instead of a traditional flower arrangement).
  • Use a paper bag as a planter: It’s easy—find a quick tutorial here.

Protective Packaging

  • Extra packing paper? Don’t throw it away! Hang onto it and use it for keeping ornaments and other fragile holiday decorations safe.
  • Leftover bubble offers great protection when storing holiday dishes such as bowls, platers, and glassware!
  • Air cushions can also be used when storing your holiday items. If you’re storing things in a box, use any saved air cushions to fill the space and keep your items from moving around.
  • Cushioned mailers are great for storing extra gift tags and cards.

Start the new year off right by reusing, recycling, and upcycling last year’s materials. Whether you’ve got remaining or extra holiday packaging materials or you received a bit too much this holiday season and are looking to repurpose, these ideas have got you covered!