Frugal Tree Decorations – Recycled Bows

If you have – and as a frugal Irish Attic devotee that I’m sure you are – a bunch of bows salvaged from previous Christmas gifts – then you have an inexpensive and beautiful way to decorate your Christmas tree on a budget. Gather together all of your bows from previous years. At this point don’t worry about the colors or the sizes. No hooks are needed – nestle your  bows in the branches of your Christmas tree. Any metallic and iridescent bows will reflect the Christmas tree lights and give you a soft glow.

Years ago, I did this as a college student on a budget. And since I”m such a recycler as we had more money to buy ornaments, we reused the bows as gift toppers. It’s amazing how pretty, sparkly, and colorful a bow covered tree can be. Using bows to fill in your tree’s bare spots is also nice, even if you have an extensive ornament collection.

Recycled Paper = Free Gift Wrap

A paper shredder is an awesome thing! Besides keeping identity theft at bay I like to use it to make free gift wrap tissue paper for gift wrapping bags and shipping packages.

You can shred any type of paper if you’re going to use it for shipping. If you’re going to use it to wrap a gift then I would suggest choosing your paper with the end product in mind. Even then, you’d be surprised what types of things can be shredded to make beautiful shredded “tissue”:

  • odd pieces of gift wrap that are left over after wrapping a gift
  • used wrapping paper that is not fit to reuse to wrap another gift
  • comics
  • newspaper
  • magazine pages
  • tissue paper that is not fit to reuse for gifts

Recycled Candy Wrapper Art

Wait – don’t toss out all those candy wrappers! Halloween is a prime time to collect recycled candy wrappers for art projects all year round. I’ve listed a few ideas below but I’m sure you all can come up with many more. Please post your ideas, successes and failures in the comments section.

Ribbons and Bows

Cut each recycled candy wrapper to the same width and tape to package as a decorative ribbon. You can then loop each length of candy wrapper and tape or glue it to the package as a bow. You can face the shiny side out or the writing side out.


I hardly ever buy silver leaf anymore. I just use recycled candy wrappers and recycled potato chip bags.

When carefully opened and washed the shiny side of these wrappers can be used in a decoupage or collage project, or to simulate a body of water in a doll house or Christmas gingerbread house.

I like to use recycled candy wrappers to cover smaller surfaces or surfaces like a frame where a long skinny shape is best. I use recycled potato chip bags for larger surfaces such as pots, trays, etc.

Antique Foiled Frame

I’ve covered scratched wooden frames with the shiny side of recycled candy wrappers. First crumple the candy wrapper. Smooth with your hands. Cut to fit, and glue to the frame. Wipe the foil with brown or black shoe polish to age it.

Contemporary Foiled Frame

Cut wrappers into squares or rectangles. Glue pieces to frame, butting together or overlapping.

Mod Frame

You could use the packaging label side to cover a frame for a retro mod look.

Decorative Tray or Box

Any of the ideas above can be used to cover a tray or box. I’ve used candy wrappers to cover a tissue box, then I use the box to store spare change.

Basket Gift Containers

Baskets that no longer fit your décor style can be recycled as gift containers.

Before piling in gifts line basket with any of the following materials:

  • moss
  • raffia
  • leftover Easter grass
  • freshly picked (or silk) leaves, vines or flowers
  • tape pulled from old cassettes or video tapes
  • shredded newspaper, magazines, colored paper, tissue paper, fabric, greeting cards

A basket gift doesn’t need to be wrapped. If you do choose to wrap it though you can use:

  • colored or clear saran wrap
  • tissue paper

Tie off the wrapping with any of the items listed under RIBBON.

Tie on a GIFT TOPPER if you wish.