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Decoupage tin containers: Using recycled materials to make gift boxes

Save money and go green this holiday by making your own gift boxes using recycled materials. With this easy project, tin containers and scraps of wrapping paper are transformed into beautiful Christmas gift boxes your friends will love to receive and reuse. It's a fun project the entire family will enjoy.


Materials and Equipment

Using recycled materials for crafts is a great way to save money and reduce waste. Here's what you'll need to make decoupage gift boxes:

Tin containers: Recycle tin containers used to package tea, cookies, and popcorn. (Anyone related to a Boy Scout should be familiar with popcorn tins from the Boy Scouts' annual fundraiser.)

Scraps of wrapping paper: This is a good use for used wrapping paper and all those small scraps that are left over after you wrap your presents.

A great way to recycle tin containers!

A great way to recycle tin containers!


  • Decoupage medium (Mod Podge or other)
  • Foam brush
  • Spray acrylic
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon or bow (optional)
  • Recycled holiday card (optional)
  • Gold cord (optional)

All you will need for this easy project.

All you will need for this easy project.

How To:

  1. Make sure the tin container is clean and free from dust. If necessary, wipe with a damp cloth and allow to dry completely before you begin to decoupage.
  2. Remove the lid from the tin container and set aside.
  3. Cut or tear small pieces of wrapping paper. Torn edges tend to blend better, while cutting is best if you want particular shapes or images. Try a combination of cut and torn pieces.
  4. Working in small sections, apply a generous coat of decoupage medium to the tin container with the foam brush.
  5. Apply a piece wrapping paper to the decoupage medium. Use your finger to smooth out the paper and remove any air bubbles or wrinkles, starting from the center of the paper and working your way out to the edges. It's helpful to keep a damp cloth nearby to clean your fingers from time to time and to wipe up any extra decoupage medium.
  6. Continue applying pieces of wrapping paper, overlapping the pieces, until the entire section is covered. Continue with another section of the container until the container is completely covered with paper.
  7. Let the decoupage medium dry. When the first coat of decoupage medium has dried, apply a second coat over the entire container and allow to dry overnight.
  8. Apply a coat of acrylic spray to the container and allow to dry completely before replacing the lid.
  9. If desired, add a bow to the lid. Make a gift tag by cutting a small piece from an old Christmas card (make sure to use a part of the card that has no text or writing on the back so you can add to/from information). Use a paper punch to make a hole in a corner of the gift tag and attach to the lid of the container with gold cord.


Ideas for Using Decoupage Gift Boxes

  • Use a decoupage gift box to package homemade treats like cookies or fudge.
  • Use decoupage gift boxes for handmade gifts like Christmas tree ornaments. Here are some ideas: Three Easy Christmas Ornaments to Make with Clear Glass Balls.
  • If you are giving cash or a gift card, put it in a small decoupage gift box filled with candy to give the box some weight.
  • Fill a recycled popcorn tin with a cozy hat, scarf, and gloves.
  • Make a box using scraps of a child's-themed wrapping paper and fill it with a plush stuffed animal.
  • They're not just for Christmas. Use different styles of wrapping paper to create gift boxes for birthdays, wedding gifts, Mother's Day, and other gift-giving occasions.

Additional Reading

More ideas on how to reduce your environmental impact this holiday season: Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Eco-Friendly Gifts and Tips for the Holidays

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Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 08, 2015:

Thanks, peachpurple. So easy, too (and a little messy, which makes it even more fun). : )

peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 29, 2014:

Gee this is a great idea to recycle tins into gifts

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 24, 2014:

Thanks for the return visit, vespawoolf. Hope I have given you some ideas for repurposing your tins.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 02, 2014:

I came back to refresh my memory on this great idea for repurposing gift tins. In Peru, they are usually cookie or panettone tins. They would be a great way to wrap a gift and would make attractive storage. Thank you!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 28, 2013:

Great idea to use images from magazines! Thanks for sharing it.

ElleBee on October 26, 2013:

Love, love this! I went through a bunch of old magazines and cut out images I wanted to use for decoupaging but wasn't quite sure where to start. Looks like this will be helping me just in time for Christmas :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 21, 2013:

Great idea to use them for mailing, RTalloni! Thanks for the comment.

RTalloni on August 21, 2013:

This nice idea might be just the thing to do with my tins and then use them to protect gifts that must be mailed to PNW and beyond…thanks!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 19, 2013:

I wish I got started this early, Au Fait. I'm one who works into the late hours of the night the week before Christmas to get all of my handcrafted gifts done! Thanks for reading and commenting.

C E Clark from North Texas on July 19, 2013:

It's that time of year when people who like to have a handcrafted Christmas need to get started so they will be ready when Christmas arrives. This hub has some great packaging ideas for those treasured handmade gifts.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 24, 2013:

Thanks, Jeannie. It's good project any time of the year but especially at Christmas time with all those scraps of wrapping paper.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on June 24, 2013:

Oh, how cute! I need to keep this in mind for the holidays this year. Or maybe I can use birthday wrapping paper and give it a try now. Great hub and voted up!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 12, 2013:

Thanks, Deborah-Diane. It's super easy. Kids would love this project.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on February 06, 2013:

What a charming way to make pretty containers for Christmas. This is also a great project for kids.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 08, 2013:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Peggy, Ronna, Arlene, and tlpoague. I'm working on another recycling hub now. I'm one of those people who has a tough time throwing something away that might be useful. I have enough material for craft projects to last the rest of my life!

Tammy on December 30, 2012:

This is a great idea! I am going to try this with all the coffee cans I seem to be collecting. Since I am working on a craft room this would be a great way to recycle. Thanks!

Arlene V. Poma on December 30, 2012:

Deb, like me, I know you are always trying to do something with those leftover Christmas containers, ribbons and wrapping so that they don't end up in a landfill. I love anything that has to do with getting out the Mod Podge. Great article and wonderful how-to photographs. Happy New Year!

Ronna Pennington from Arkansas on December 30, 2012:

LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2012:

Hi Deborah,

I like the idea of recycling and this is recycling at its best! Like you said, this is a project that can be done year round for many different occasions...and it is also something fun to do. Voted up and useful. Sharing! :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 23, 2012:

Thank you, ktrapp. I have a bunch more tins down in my craft room just waiting to be decoupaged. T'is the season!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on November 23, 2012:

What a clever idea and what a great way to personalize a gift box. I can't wait to give it a try!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 23, 2012:

Thanks, vespawoolf. I hope I've given you some ideas that you can for the holidays. I appreciate the comment.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on November 22, 2012:

This would be a fun family project and a great way to receive a gift of candy, fudge or cookies! The finished product really does look nice. Thank you for sharing!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 20, 2012:

Thank you, prasetio. I hope my hub has inspired you to find new ways to recycle things you have laying around.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on November 18, 2012:

Very inspiring hub. My friend, you have brilliant idea here by recycle boxes into beautiful things. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!


Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 17, 2012:

Thanks, Break of Dawn. I'm so glad to see you back here on HubPages!

Break of Dawn on November 17, 2012:

A beautiful and creative idea for the upcoming holidays. Those lovely decoupage tins will make pretty gifts. Thank you for sharing this green idea with us. Voted up and sharing.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 30, 2012:

Thanks, Nell! I'm sure it was a sacrifice to eat those sweets, but you knew those tins would come in handy some day. : )

Nell Rose from England on October 30, 2012:

What a great idea! I love doing this sort of thing, I have loads of tins at home, usually from the old sweets that I buy constantly! lol! well, I of course knew they would come in handy, and did I eat all the sweets? yep! lol!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 26, 2012:

Martie, your table sounds great! Maybe I'll take my decoupage skills to new levels and try something like that. : ) Thanks for the comment.

Jamie Brock from Texas on October 25, 2012:

Oh my gosh.. Deb.. Thank you.. so sweet- you just made my day :)

Martie Coetser from South Africa on October 25, 2012:

Just the hub I was looking for. I have about 5 small containers I would like to decoupage with pictures of my grandchildren - I have in fact a table - dinner table - decoupaged with the black-and-white photos of relatives who are for decades no longer with us. I've never tried tin-containers before.

Voted up, useful and awesome. Pinned in my personal library (FB)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 25, 2012:

Jamie, thanks so much. Your comment means a lot to me, since you are one of my crafty heroes here on HP. : )

Jamie Brock from Texas on October 25, 2012:

This such a great idea.. You can buy those tins for a dime a dozen at thrift stores and look how pretty you made them! I'm definitely putting this on my list of crafts to do. Your instructions are very easy to follow and appreciate your pretty photos too. Voted up. Thank you for sharing :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 23, 2012:

Thanks, Dianna. Your idea sounds great. When can I expect my tin of cookies to arrive? : )

Dianna Mendez on October 22, 2012:

I saw some really pretty tins at the dollar store this week. I make cookies for Christmas and your ideas would make the tins looks even better as I present the cookies as gifts.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 22, 2012:

Thank you for the comments, Jackie, GTF, ishwaryaa, and lindalou. It's a great way both to use up old tin containers and to create a really unique package for a special gift (or to make an ordinary gift seem more special).

Lindalou, I love your coffee table idea!

Linda from Texas on October 21, 2012:

I like this idea... I just did my old coffee table with family pics. Thanks for sharing!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on October 21, 2012:

A creatively wonderful idea! This is a great way of going green not just during Christmas season but also other occasions. I enjoyed indulging in art activities and this is something I would like to give a try. Your instructions are clear and detailed. The photos are beautiful. Way to go!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Awesome. Voted up, pinned & shared

Claudia Porter on October 21, 2012:

What a great idea. I have all of these old tins that I never know what to do with. Thanks. Voted up.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 21, 2012:

I think this is a great idea and I always keep pretty little cans just for this!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 21, 2012:

Thanks for the comments, Stephanie, Daisy, Rebecca, and Keith. I'm glad this project makes the grade! : )

KDuBarry03 on October 20, 2012:

These would make great gift boxes for some homemade sweets for a great and affordable gift for the holidays. Definitely doing something like this when Christmas rolls around :) Voted up and sharing!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 20, 2012:

Great ideas! I really like the decoupaged tins!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on October 20, 2012:


Speaking as someone who is certified to teach art, I give your projects an *A+*...What a great idea!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on October 20, 2012:

Great idea for recycling old tins! I have some worn looking cookie tins that would certainly be pretty gift containers if decoupaged. Thanks for the fun idea and easy to follow instructions! Voted up and pinned.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 20, 2012:

Thanks, Sharkye, Mary, and Sunshine. I love Christmas but hate all the waste it generates so am always trying to find new way to reuse, repurpose, and recycle. My sister actually came up with this idea for our annual "Craft Day" party last year and I took it and ran with it. Appreciate the comments!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 20, 2012:

Clever ideas! WTG Deb! Go Green!!!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on October 20, 2012:

This is right up my ally! I love doing decoupage. You have a great idea here. I save these tins all the time, but I never thought of this idea.

I voted this Hub UP, and will share.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on October 19, 2012:

Great idea! They look so pretty! It's a great way to reuse tins and paper, as well as create a gift that cannot easily be guessed from the package! Think how wonderfully surprising it would be to think you might be getting popcorn, only to open the tin and discover a treasure of home-made gifts!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 19, 2012:

Thanks, Bill. I have 3 nephews who are Boy Scouts and had to figure out a way to reuse all of those containers!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 19, 2012:

That is such a cool idea! How terribly creative of you, Deb! I think we'll be trying this for the holidays since we have quite a few tin cans sitting around. Thank you!

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