Idea #1: Make the gift wrap part of the gift!
Is there some type of fabric item your gift recipient would use? My dad usually carries around a bandana as a hanky, and we happen to make these great bandanas at the shop I work at. Depending on the size of your gift it could be a handkerchief or a scarf. Or maybe your giftee likes to sew, quilt or craft with fabric in some other way. Pick up some lovely fabric for their stash!
Fabric could also be a great wrapping solution for those you live with. If you save it, you can have a dedicated stash of gift wrapping fabric for years to come.
Idea #2: Recycled Pages
Just because most of the paper we recycle isn't big enough to cover large gifts doesn't mean hope is lost. Choose multiple pages to tape, sew, or glue together into a large piece of gift wrap.
This gift is wrapped with a recycled festival program. I taped the pages together with gaffer's tape (I'm obsessed with the stuff. It's classy, it looks like fabric.) I made the bow from cut strips of a brown paper bag and a single staple, taped over the point where my four pages intersect.
This one is made from magazine pages. I taped the pages together from the inside, so there would be no showing tape.
This one is made of book pages. I've done a number of projects with the covers of old books (like this hand-bound notebook), which leaves me with a a ton of old book pages I don't know what to do with. I sewed them all together with my sewing machine (it's really fun sewing things that aren't fabric!) These pages are from a 1969 edition of Reader' Digest Condensed Books. Flipping through, I was drawn to the illustrations for this one, The Day the World Ended, and today seemed like the most appropriate day imaginable for apocalyptic wrapping paper, being the last day of the Mayan calendar and all.
Idea #3: A Map
Looking for big paper? Maps are big pieces of paper! And they look super hip. This map was an outdated NYC bike map I found in my drawer. Score. You can get a bike map for free at any NYC bike shop. If you don't have any maps around that you're ready to chuck, public transportation authorities usually give out bus and train maps for free, or perhaps there is a map you could buy that your giftee would use.
Idea #6 Artist Paper
If you're looking for something a little cleaner and simpler, this is a lovely way to go. As an artist, and especially as a former art student, I have all sorts of art papers. I've got so many they're coming out my ears! In all different sizes, some quite large. In a range of neutral colors: white, black, shades of grey and brown. Many with subtly luxurious textures. This is a lovely black paper given to me by a German student, emptying his stash before moving back to Germany. I'm not even sure what it's for, but it's a smooth, rich black with a linen-like weave. Perfect for manly wrapping.
Idea #5 Grocery Bag
Remember covering your textbooks in recycled brown paper bags? Simply slice a seam, cut off the bottom and you've got a nice big piece of wrapping paper! Tie it up with string and you've got one of Maria's Favorite Things! For my tag here, I glued a pressed leaf to the paper and wrote on it with a gold pen.
For more on pressing, my pressed leaf was leftover from this project: