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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Make cards from leftover wrapping paper

Figure out whether wrapping paper is recyclable, then save it from landfill by creating a card for someone else.

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You’ll need

  • Scrap card
  • Scissors
  • PVA glue
  • Glue sticks
  • Pens or pencils
  • A selection of used wrapping paper and tissue paper
  • Table covers (optional)

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Recycling wrapping paper

Some councils do accept wrapping paper in their household recycling collection scheme, but others won’t. Wrapping paper isn’t always accepted at recycled paper mills, so please check with them first. It may depend on the type of wrapping paper too or if it has sellotape on it.

RecycleNow: What to do with wrapping paper

Planning this activity 

  • Everyone should bring used wrapping paper for this activity. It may be best to wait until just after celebrations such as Christmas to do this. You could also ask people to bring in any used wrapping paper after birthdays, and collect it over time.

Sort the paper

  1. Everyone should sit in a circle. Anyone who’s got some used wrapping paper should put it in a big pile in the middle. 
  2. Split the circle into two groups, and the pile of wrapping paper into two (same sized) piles. Give each group their pile.
  3. Explain the recycling rules, so everyone playing knows what can and can’t be recycled.
  4. Each group should sort through their pile, separating it into recyclable and non-recyclable paper.
  5. The winning group is the first one to sort their pile correctly.
  6. Now, everyone knows what to look out for when buying wrapping paper in the future. For now, they’ll use all of the paper to make a card.

Make your card

  1. If you have table covers, put them down now to protect your table or floor from glue.
  2. Give everyone a piece of card, and spread the wrapping paper out so everyone can see the different colours and patterns. 
  3. Everyone should fold their piece of card in half, and decide which way up they want their card to be. 
  4. Everyone should think about the design of their card. Who is it for, and what would they like? How about stripes, random shapes, or a collaged scene? Some people may want to use a pencil to sketch their design onto their card.
  5. Everyone should rip or cut the wrapping paper into small pieces, matching their design.
  6. To stick the wrapping paper to their card, everyone should add a thin layer of PVA glue to the back of the paper, then gently press it on. Don’t add too much glue, as this will make it soggy.
  7. Everyone should keep sticking wrapping paper to their cards – it doesn’t matter if they go onto the back, or overlap the edge. Encourage people to use the non-recyclable wrapping paper first, as it’s more important to reuse this – any recyclable paper left over can still be recycled.
  8. If anyone’s wrapping paper sticks out over the edge of their card, they should carefully trim it with scissors, so it doesn’t hang over the edge.
  9. Everyone should write or draw a message inside their card.
  10. If they want, they can use felt tip pens or markers to add extra detail to their design.


This activity helped you to develop skills. Did you develop your creative skills? What about skills and knowledge about recycling – do you know more now? Why is it important to recycle? Why is it important to know what you can and can’t recycle, and to follow the rules?

This activity also helped you to make the world a better place. Will you tell anyone else what you now know about recycling? How could you choose to wrap presents, to reduce the environmental impact? Who is your card for, and how do you think it will make them feel? Is there anyone else you think would appreciate a homemade card and message? What could you do for them?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.