If there’s one thing that most teens love it’s creating some kind of craft at the library. We all know that craft programs are always a big hit. But in this economy, where are we supposed to come up with materials for craft programs when we can barely cover our collection budgets and other essentials? ‘ One of the beautiful things about crafts is that pretty much anything can be used in them, and if you can get your teens to bring in a few essentials from home you can put on a pretty amazing program.

Craft programs for teen patrons are ideal during the holidays, because as much as the crashing economy has hit us it hits teens even more.’  If teens are given the opportunity to create gifts and cards for their family and friends they’re likely to come to the library to participate. Of course, if your library doesn’t have the resources to fund a craft program like that, you can always have the teens create their own wrapping paper to wrap their gifts in. Wrapping paper isn’t cheap!

Creating holiday wrapping paper is as much fun as creating crafts that can be given as gifts. The added bonus is that since wrapping paper is usually tossed out in the trash you don’t need to use really nice craft materials to make it. It’s time to clean out that craft closet and get rid of all those odds and bobs!

Ask your teens to bring old holiday cards, unused book covers, pens, or anything they think would look cool on wrapping paper with them to the library. If you have a lot of butcher paper at the library or lots of colored paper leftover from another program pull those out and let the teens go to town on them with markers, crayons, glitter or ink stamps. If your library doesn’t have a lot of extra nice paper, feel free to use scrap paper from the printer- who’s going to see the other side of it? Teens can even decorate old shoe and shirt boxes to give them some holiday flair if they chose!

Most libraries have a standing supply of scissors and glue, and I know mine has drawers full of buttons and feathers and pipe cleaners in all sorts of colors that were ordered for other programs and have accumulated over the years. ‘ We have stickers that we’ve removed from circulating materials, magazines that have been withdrawn from circulation and saved for collages, felt pieces leftover from flannel board story creation…the list is almost endless!

A Holiday Wrapping Paper Party is a pretty basic program. You can have teen volunteers help you set things up and put things away at the end. It can be a set program with a start and end time, or, if you have the space in your library, you can set the materials out and let teens come and go over a period of hours, or even days. The flexibility of the program means it can be as staff involved (or uninvolved) as you like.

If your holiday season is already program packed, why not save a wrapping paper party for Valentine’s Day? Or maybe graduation season? Or just start stockpiling for next December? The possibilities are only limited by your teens’ imaginations- not necessarily your budget!

About Carla Land

Carla is currently a member of YALSA's Teen Read Week committee and is one of two 2009 ALA Emerging Leaders sponsored by YALSA. In addition to being the Children's Services Department Head of the Summerlin Library in Las Vegas, NV, Carla is also the Senior Editor of Anime For Libraries, an anime review website staffed by librarians who love anime.

3 Thoughts on “Dollars and Sense #10: DIY Holiday Wrapping Paper

  1. Megan Frazer Blakemore on December 11, 2009 at 8:24 am said:

    I want to go to this program! I love making wrapping paper and these are great ideas. I especially like that it’s a greener way of doing wrapping paper.

    We’re going to do a drop in ornament program using old CDs. Using mod podge or spray adhesive, we’re going to affix a lot of the things you mentioned above — old cards, photographs, etc.

  2. If you wanted to make this techy, you could use Wordle – http://www.wordle.net – to create your own wrapping paper for small gifts! This was a suggestion from someone in my current Tech Programming for Teens session.

  3. How about a simple, super-easy gift bow to go along with that wrapping paper?


    The supplies are so basic (magazines, staples and tape) – the only thing I did ahead of time was cut the strips. I didn’t want to be liable for handing a bunch of kids a knives. A quick demonstration by an adult is all they need to show them how to cut the strips.

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