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! | Source


  • 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. | Source

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

More by this Author

Comments 52 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

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!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

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.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Clever ideas! WTG Deb! Go Green!!!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

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.

Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


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

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Great ideas! I really like the decoupaged tins!

KDuBarry03 4 years ago

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

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

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

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

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

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

lindalou1963 profile image

lindalou1963 4 years ago from Texas

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

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

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.

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

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 :)

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

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)

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

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

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Break of Dawn profile image

Break of Dawn 4 years ago

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.

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

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!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois

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

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

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! :)

Ronna Pennington profile image

Ronna Pennington 3 years ago from Arkansas

LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing!

Arlene V. Poma 3 years ago

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!

tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 3 years ago from USA

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa Author

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!

Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

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

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa Author

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

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

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.

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa Author

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.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa Author

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

ElleBee 3 years ago

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 :)

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa Author

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

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

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!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 2 years ago from Iowa Author

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

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Gee this is a great idea to recycle tins into gifts

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 23 months ago from Iowa Author

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

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