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Ten Great No-Cost Newspaper Gift Ideas

By , August 21st, 2007 | 10 Comments »

newspaper art

Newspapers are handy inventions. They are delivered to our door once a day, whether we want it today or not. They are at every grocery store, en masse. Wrinkle and shake one open, and you can find all sorts of gift ideas for your sweetie, or mom, or kid (or self). You can find coupons and sales ads: “Valentine’s Day is coming ! Get your diamonds 16.57% off here!” There are listings in the calendar section for live music; there are movie listings. You can use the service directory to find dancing lessons or spa treatments and in the classifieds you can find a puppy or sports event tickets. The lifestyles section of the paper sometimes even lists the top gifts of the season.

But what if you really don’t have the time to prepare? What if, you woke up, sat down at your morning coffee and paper-shaking routine, and realized the date at the top is way too important to arrive empty-handed? If you didn’t prepare, then neither did your wallet. There’s a couple of bucks in your pocket, and the instant-shopping-trip is much more expensive than the one that takes planning and forethought. Florists and the gift card industry thrive off the last-minute shopper. What to think of when it really is the thought that counts?

What if you could instead turn the actual paper into your gift? Here are ten last-minute gift ideas using our old black-white and read all over friend. Fun to do by yourself, fun to do with your kids, fun when you have more time than money, and even fun when you don’t have much of either.

1. Day in history card. Is it a birthday? We’ve all seen those sepia-colored greeting cards in the store with “The Day You Were Born” written on them. Taking a pair of scissors to the “This Day in History” section and pasting it to the front of a card is a ore price savvy method of achieving this effect. You could also use this for anniversaries, but if it is yours and your spouses, this card may not be enough. Read on.

2. Random poetry. Cut and paste headlines and ad slogans and arrange into a sweet or funny poem. This can go inside the above card, or on its own. The holiday papers provide sufficient language for a holiday poem, but cutting and arranging letters can personalize the language to your occasion.

3. Shred. Add water and blend. Keep blending. Spread over a flat surface, press with an old t-shirt or sock. Set to dry for about two hours (humidity and temperature will affect this length). Dry iron when much of the water is gone to flatten and finalize drying. Your new sheet of handmade paper is a gift itself, or may be fodder for any craft project, including both of the above ideas.

4. Origami. Besides the traditional boat and hat that can be folded from a large piece of newspaper, you can trim three-inch-squares and try out a swan, frog, photo frame, or flower, using instructions you can find online (a good site to try is origami.com). If you aren’t up for paper folding, you can package the origami-sized paper together with a ribbon and some instructions.

5. Newsprint has interesting properties. Using permanent markers and drops of alcohol, any artist can be inspired by the way color spreads through the paper fibers. Be sure to do this project in a well-ventilated area, and deliver dry. It may also be good to experiment with different household items made with alcohol, like perfumes, mouthwashes, hairspray, mousse, breath sprays, and even your liquor cabinet. Frame, or use this patterned newspaper for origami craft.

6. Bouquets! Trace your hand, and the hands of your children in strategic places on ads and photos, and cut several “flowers” from the paper. Attach to some stems (pencils, tubes of paper, straws) and bundle. Put them in a flower pot, vase, or just tie a ribbon around the stems. This really is a hit.

7. Cut the clues from the crossword puzzles and paste them on index cards. Instant trivia game! The rules: divide among the participants. One is a master of ceremonies, with the actual crossword box. This one announces the length and positions of known letters for each clue. The players take turns suggesting solutions for their cards. If one’s cards are completed, they wait until the end of the game to ensure their clues were correct. The first player who completed their set correctly is the winner!

8. Sunday funnies. If you already have a gift, or have created one from the above list, you can use the Sunday funnies to wrap them with. Coloring the daily funnies with crayons provides a more personal touch, or at least some fun for the children.

So you’d rather perform a service as a gift, instead? Good. Try these last two.

9. Window cleaner. There are people who swear by washing windows with newspapers. The colored inks will bleed onto the glass, but the black and white print wadded up with a good window cleaner will prevent streaks and spots and give a nice crystal-like shine. Wash the car windows, or those upper-floor windows that are really a pain to get to. This will really make your mom’s day!

10. Picnic with newspaper. Lightly spray a couple of sheets of newspaper with cooking oil, and crumple them beneath the charcoal in the chimney starter. Using paper and the food grade product instead of a petroleum-based charcoal starter improves the flavor and the quality of your grilled foods. Show your brother how to start his grill with newspapers, and your sister-in-law how to cover the dining tables with newspaper for absorbency and easy, no-fuss clean up. Your newspaper can make the back-yard cook-out a real, stress free hit.

Image courtesy of harpreet singh

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  • Shannon says:

    I never heard about making homemade paper this way — does it turn out a strange gray color? Sounds like an interesting project even if you don’t need a gift!

  • Ann says:

    The paper does come out a gray, but it’s really nice not to have a boatload of ingredients to make it. It’s like papermache, without making you all paste-y.


  • contrary1 says:

    Fun list! I used a newspaper in a creativity class a couple times, had the participants list the number of things they could do with the paper. They surprised themselves with just how creative they really were.

  • Rachelle says:

    Thank you! I have been trying to get a gift together and all the cards I have been buying makes it incredably pricey but with this I can personalize it! I love the poem idea! How come you didn’t tell me about this before, sis?

  • Noelle says:

    I loved this article! So inventive of you Ann. I look forward to my next opportunity to make a “this day in history” card. I am also excited to read more articles from this author!

  • Jen says:

    Ann, Is there a way to use some of your ideas in another publication? I think your tips would be great for a website I know.

  • Ann says:

    Thanks. I can be reached at
    my name at yahoo dot com

  • rizki says:

    Oer..you can convert newspaper waste into shopping bag. watch this video:


  • Clara says:

    No need to gender the last tip! What if your sister-in-law does the grilling and your brother sets the table? Otherwise, great ideas.

  • Ann says:

    No reason to gender or not to gender any of the tips; they’re examples and examples require the ability to apply the idea to a variety of situations. I hope the list is inspiring, not one of inflexible instructions.



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