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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Making basket filler for gift baskets

Hard to believe, but you can buy shredded paper to use in gift baskets. Retail locations that sell party supplies and gift wrap accessories, sell bags of crinkled, shredded paper, to use as gift-basket bedding, for about $3 a bag.

You can make your own, in minutes, using your home-office paper shredder -- for nothing, if you don't mind using junk mail paper. Or for a couple of pennies, you can use plain paper, or tea-stained paper, or scraps of gift wrap.

Commercially-shredded paper is crinkled. This gives the paper loft and cushions items better than flat paper shreds. When you shred documents at home, you get a pile of matted paper bits. For disposal, those matted shreds are easier to deal with, as they take up less space in your recycling bin. However, for filling a gift box or basket, you want loft in your filler.

You can crinkle your own, home-shredded paper, super-duper easy.

See what happens when you take some of these matted paper shreds --

if you tightly pack these into "snowballs", about the size of your fist,

then fluff it up, you increase the volume of your paper filler, almost by double.

When I was filling my spa basket, I wanted something prettier than our financial documents all shredded up, to cushion the spa gifts.

The day that I tea-stained the poetry scripted papers, I had leftover tea in the baking pan. So, I took an extra few sheets of blank paper and tea-stained those with the leftover tea. Once dried, I put them through our paper shredder. They had a natural look that went well with my basket.

I also had some colorful scraps of wrapping paper that were really too wrinkled or too small to wrap anything. I put those pieces of gift wrap through the shredder, too.

When I tossed the colored and ecru paper together, I had a pretty confetti blend of papers for basket filler, in my spa basket.

I crinkled this filler, using the snowball technique, then filled my gift-basket.

I lined my basket with a large square of pink plastic, which was part of a large shopping bag that I'd acquired a while ago. I opened that bag along the seams, and cut out a large square.

Ten minutes of my time and I saved about $3.

Just a frugal shredded paper tip -- over the holidays, you may receive some gifts wrapped in gift wrap. The good and large pieces can be reused for future holiday gift-wrapping. You can iron on a very low setting to smooth out wrinkles. The smaller pieces, or those with writing on the wrap, or places where tape peeled off the print -- you know, the pieces that you really don't want to reuse -- can be run through your paper shredder in batches of like color. You can make some basket filler for future gifting, with these gift wrap scraps. Remember to tear the tape pieces off, first. They might gum up your shredder.


  1. Ever the resourceful one again, Lili. I used to have a shredder that did strips like you showed, but after it died, I got a new one that cross cuts--which means that I get very small pieces. They could still be used for filler, but they are very messy so they would have to be contained in a bag or something similar. Otherwise, the gift recipient would have a annoying mess on their hands.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      my shredder makes 2-inch long shreds. I don't know how that compares to yours. (If your shreds are really small, then you might have a micro-shredder.)

      Crinkling the paper shreds helped to keep them contained (they couldn't slip through the weave of the basket as easily), but I think the real mess-saver was lining the basket with a large plastic square. You're right, though, they do create something of a mess, just left as is, no liner and no crinkling.

      Creating shredded paper for a gift basket does make those old-style, full-length paper shredders more valuable, if someone still has a working one at home.

    2. My shred pieces are about 3/8" long.

    3. your shredder would be a micro-shredder, according to this site:
      mine is just your standard cross-cut shredder, leaving pieces up to 2 inches long.

      hope your week is going well!

  2. Lovely, Lili! Awesome tips!

    I've done this once or twice for decorative filler with a flat paper cutter (like they used to have in schools)or even scissors, since I don't have a shredder. Takes a little longer, but for those here that don't have the shredder, it IS still possible.

    Speaking of packing, we buy a lot by mail order, so get a lot of things coming in packing materials (not pretty ones, usually, though.) We save all the packing materials from things we order, and never have to buy paper or peanuts to send our own packages.

    We've also found that, if we end up with an excess of packing paper, some types are actually faster and more frugal than the free newspaper DH gets at work for starting fires in our wood stove. I can use half as much paper when I use what comes from one particular company.

    I also save paper egg cartons, because just a couple of "cups" from one of those is a great help in starting the fire with minimal kindling.

    Have a good week! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      Very resourceful of you, to cut strips of paper by hand. Yes, it is possible, and could be done in otherwise idle time, like while watching TV.

      We save all of that packing stuff, too. Our local pack and ship place will take surplus peanuts. A lot of companies are switching to packing paper, in place of styrofoam peanuts.

      I have a huge stash of cardboard egg cartons. I need to do something with them, sell or trade with a neighbor who keeps hens or give to the preschool/kindergarten SS class at our church.

      I hope your week is off to a lovely start, Sara!

  3. I never thought of shredding gift wrapping paper before, such a good idea when you want to make those basket fillers. Also maybe magazine pages and brochures, however I have never tried shredding it. Maybe it wouldn't work because it is too limp, but there are thicker paper grade publications. But nothing beats the cheeriness and color of wrapping paper, that is the best. Now I'll feel guilty throwing away bits of worn out wrapping paper lol Great idea!!

    Have a great Thanksgiving week!!


    1. Ever since your recent post about using the outer cellophane wrappers to package your soaps, I've been eyeing every wrapper and container for possible reuse.

      Last week I bought more clearance shorts for our grandsons and usually I throw the hangers away (you know, those hangers with clips) without really giving it a second look. This time, I left the hangers on the kitchen counter for a few days, until I had an idea. I clipped off the "pins" at the ends of the hangers by bending and cutting with a scissors, now I have a bunch of plastic pins to use around the house. The remaining pinless hangers are still on the kitchen counter. I'm thinking maybe I could use it as the "hanger" part for other craft making.

      Beautiful basket, your son's girlfriend will love knowing you made most of the contents by hand. Easily $30-$40 retail, for a fraction of the cost. And with a lot more personal meaningfulness.


    2. Hi YHF,
      great use for the clips on the hangers!

      On Christmas day, I usually round up all of the useful used gift wrap, tear off the tape, and stack and fold it all. I keep it on a shelf in a closet and then next year, we have that paper to choose from for wrapping. But there are always some pieces that just wouldn't suit reuse as gift wrap. those will go in another pile, for shredding for gift baskets and boxes.

      I think my son's GF did appreciate the basket and that I made almost everything in the basket. It's really nice to give a hand-crafted gift to someone who is appreciative.

      I didn't figure the retail comparable, but at $5 per bar of soap, $4 per spa cloth (comp to Etsy), 4 sachets bath tea $12 (Etsy), bottle of bubble bath ($10 maybe at a place like Marshall's), plus chocolate candies ($4 retail -- one was free, one clearance), I guess the total value might be around $44, plus the basket itself (I got at a thrift shop a while back, for $1, maybe $7 or $8 new?). I saw complete baskets on Etsy for between $30 and $60. My $$ cost was under $10. And, I got to have the fun of making everything!!!

      Have a great day, YHF!

  4. Your gift basket turned out lovely, Lili.

    Did you know that wrapping paper can also be cut in narrow strips and curled just like curling ribbon? I have cut multiple strips, taped a band of the same wrap around the middle of a set of strips, and curled them just like using ribbon. It is another way to use up narrow pieces of gift wrap.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thank you.
      Oh, yes, good reminder about curling gift wrap to make package bows, and really great way to use up the small pieces that wouldn't wrap around anything else! I think these make excellent "bows" for kids birthday presents, as they can be big, colorful and cost next to nothing to make. They look festive on a wrapping of "funny pages" from the Sunday paper. Great reminder, Mary!

      Have a great day, Mary!

  5. Great idea! Thanks!

    We have a paper shredder at work, and employees are allowed to use the shreds for packaging, etc. One employee even took home our shreds as cat box filler for a couple of weeks after her cat had been declawed. Now that I know about the crinkling, and fluffing I'll have to utilize shredded paper as basket fillers.

    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Angie,
      I thought about that as an alternative to clay cat litter, or even mixed in with the litter. My mom used to hand-shred newspapers to add to the cat litter.

      Have a wonderful day, yourself, Angie!

  6. Gather all the used material such as grocery bags, used fabric bags, used wrapping paper, bow and ribbon for you next wrapping activities.Grote Teddybeer


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