Oodles of Doodles

Using ink or a marker, make loops all over a piece of scrap paper, newsprint, or preconsumer waste paper. Choose symbols, such as a menorah or a dreidel, and draw them inside the loops. Add other Chanukah icons, and fill the page with the symbols. Color some of the designs with markers or crayons.

Repeat Design

Recycle the back side of a computer print out sheet, a piece of newsprint, or a sheet of preconsumer waste paper. Divide the paper into long rectangles, and using pens and markers, draw two, three, or four Chanukah symbols or designs over and over. Color some of the designs.

Polished Crayon

Make a stained glass design by dividing a piece of preconsumer waste paper into many sections or shapes with a black marker. Color the shapes heavily. Polish the design by gently rubbing the colors with a soft rag.

Wet-in-wet Watercolor

wet in wet watercolorTape a heavy piece of absorbant paper to an old board. Soak the paper by brushing or sponging water onto it. Using watercolor, choose either cool colors (blues, greens, and purples) or warm colors (reds, yellows, and oranges) to paint an abstract design. Add interest to your painting by sprinkling rice or kosher salt into the puddles here and there. When it's dry, brush off the rice or salt.

Resist Painting

Choose a piece of white waste paper. Using crayons or oil pastels, draw a picture or fill the page with Chanukah symbols, leaving some of the paper untouched. Color the symbols heavily. Wet the entire page with a sponge, and paint watercolor over everything.

Spatter Painting

Wear a paint shirt for this one, and cover your work area with newspapers! Cut out some simple shapes from scrap paper. Lay the shapes on a piece of paper like newsprint or preconsumer waste paper. Dip an old tooth brush into poster paint, and spatter paint the page by drawing a craft stick across the bristles toward yourself. Continue till the whole sheet is covered. Remove the shapes.

String Painting

sting painting exampleDip all but two inches of a fourteen-inch length of string into acrylic, poster paint, ink, or watercolor. Lay it across a piece of paper, leaving the "clean" part hang over the edge. Place another paper on top of the first one, and holding your hand on top of the paper and string, pull the string back and forth and then out. Repeat with other colors, if you wish. Be sure to use a clean string for each new color!


Newspaper pages with very small type like a stock exchange report page or want ads from the newspaper make good paper for prints. Have an adult help you cut a simple design into a carrot or potato, and make repeat design prints. You can use objects like sponges, spools, and sticks to make prints, too. Be sure to use water-based printing inks. Red ink looks especially attractive on black and white newspapers.


Cut a simple shape from wax paper or the backing from a self-adhesive label. Place over a piece of scrap paper, and use acrylic, poster paint or watercolor to paint the shape's edges with a stencil brush or a sponge. Repeat till the paper is covered with designs.


Lay a piece of newsprint or other thin type of paper over a raised surface such as linoleum or other texture. Remove the paper covering from a crayon. Holding the paper down with one hand and using the broad side of the crayon, make a rubbing by coloring the sheet. Use many colors side by side for a more interesting effect.

Rubber Stamping

Rubber stamps are available in many different designs. Find some with Chanukah symbols like the menorah or the dreidel. Before stamping, decide if you want an overall pattern or one which is more formal. When you have a plan in mind, stamp away on newsprint or other piece of waste paper. If you wish, use markers or colored pencils to color the designs when they're dry.

Aluminum Foil

Recycle clean aluminum foil by loosely wadding it up into a ball. Carefully undo the foil, and smooth it out onto your work surface. The foil will be left with an interesting wrinkled texture.

How to:

You can use many papers without decorating them at all. A travel book can be wrapped in an old map, for example. Refer to the Be A Paper Saver activity which lists many types of paper which can be recycled just as you find them. There are many ways to hand decorate paper and other materials, however. The following are some ideas:


Make an Animal Bag

bag for giftsCurve the top of a plain, brown bag by cutting off the corners. Fold it over about three inches to form the face. Use construction paper scraps to create the animal's features, and glue them to the bag. Fill the container with shredded paper. Place your gift inside, and fold down the top.

Decorate an Oatmeal Carton

Empty oatmeal cartons make great containers for gifts. Just use a glue stick to adhere a paper covering to the box. The container can be reused to give someone else a gift or used for another purpose.

Wrap a Cardboard Tube

tube containerPlace a small gift inside a tube like a paper towel or a section of a gift wrap tube. Wrap with paper and tie the ends with ribbons or curled paper.

Make a Cardboard Box Anew

teabox insidesteabox remadeCarefully take apart small paper cartons, like the boxes in which teabags or aspirin are packaged. Many of them are plain inside. Decorate them on the white side, and then glue them back together again with your design on the outside. Line them with tissue or shredded paper. You can also study how boxes are folded and constructed, and use them as patterns to make more boxes.


Visit second-hand stores to buy baskets at reduced prices. Line the basket with tissue or shredded paper and place your gift inside. The person who receives your present can use the basket for something else later.

Flower pots

Place shredded paper inside clean terra cotta flower pots and use as gift containers. If you wish, paint designs on the pot with acrylic paints.

Ribbon Substitute

Review the paper sculpture techniques in the Put on a Happy Face activity. Recycle construction paper scraps by using some of the methods to replace commercial bows and ribbon on your packages.

Tips and Tricks:

A good source of clean, preconsumer waste paper is your local print shop. Ask the printer to save end rolls and sheets of leftover paper for you. Go to the shop on a regular basis to pick up the paper, so it will not take up needed space at the business.

The funny papers or comic section of the Sunday newspaper are very colorful, and they will do as wrapping paper. In addition, your local newspaper will sell or give you end rolls of plain newsprint which you can decorate in many ways.

Interior design and paint stores receive wallpaper sample books on a regular basis. When their suppliers introduce new papers, the old books are no longer useful. You can use pages from a wallpaper sample book to wrap small gifts. Ask the decorator at your local paint store to save books for you. wall paper sample

Department and specialty stores often sack merchandise using bags decorated with beautiful designs. Save them, and when you're ready to wrap gifts, cut them open and use them like regular wrapping paper.

Whether you celebrate Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah), Christmas, or Kwanzaa, recycling paper to make gift wrap and containers will save money, natural resources, and landfill space. Use the suggestions as they are or change them to fit your needs. However you celebrate this time of the year, have a happy holiday!


Also called the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication, Chanukah has been celebrated by people of the Jewish faith for centuries. This is a time for family gatherings, reciting the Chanukah blessing, lighting the candles of the menorah, and sharing meals together.

Also, gifts are exchanged, one on each night of the eight-day festival. You can have fun making art and you'll save money by designing your own wrapping paper and gift containers. If you recycle paper to do this, you'll help save trees and landfill space, too. Try to be creative by thinking of a different way to recycle paper to wrap gifts for each night of Chanukah.

You Will Need: