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How To Make a Unique Gift Box With an Old Coffee Can and Junk Mail

Updated on January 9, 2016
An upcycled coffee can decorated with pages from a magazine and crochet. It'll hold more holiday goodies by the time I'm finished with the gift.
An upcycled coffee can decorated with pages from a magazine and crochet. It'll hold more holiday goodies by the time I'm finished with the gift. | Source

Giving gifts can get expensive, but you can shave quite a bit off of your holiday budget by making presents instead of buying them. If you have an old coffee can, some magazines you’re not planning on reading and some extra time on you hand, you have the makings of a great DIY project.

Upcycling is the concept of using things that would otherwise be thrown out or given away as material to create something beautiful, useful or both. This year I have discovered how to use old magazines, or junk mail, and an old coffee can to make a great little goodie box for a wonderful little girl in my life.

When she opens it, she’ll find more little presents just for her come Christmas morning.

For plastic coffee cans, use all purpose glue, or glue formulated for plastic. If you have a metal can or substitute a glass jar, using a glue gun would be the way to go. I found the hard way that all purpose glue doesn’t work well for glass and metal surfaces.

Gather Your Materials

To make an upcycled gift box, you’ll need a few things before you can get started.

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Transparent tape
  • An old magazine
  • A coffee can

Depending on the shape of your coffee can you may want to crochet covers use felt or do something else to hide any uneven edges. I used a Folgers coffee can, which has sort of a strange shape to it. However, other brands like Maxwell House just have a more traditional canned shape and for those, you can just trim the edges until they’re all even on the top and on the bottom.

My basic supplies - an empty and clean coffee can, scissors, a cut up magazine and bottle of glue.
My basic supplies - an empty and clean coffee can, scissors, a cut up magazine and bottle of glue. | Source
A half-page folded into fourths.
A half-page folded into fourths. | Source
The page after I'd cut it up.
The page after I'd cut it up. | Source

Preparing the Magazine

Since you need your rolls to be big enough to cover the body of the coffee can, you’ll probably want the pieces of paper to be smaller than the area you’re working with. This is because as you roll them, you will find that the rolls will be longer than the paper you started with.

Most magazines have large surface area for their pages. First, if the magazine is thin enough, just cut it in half. If it’s too thick, tear out a number of pages and fold them in half, as if you were going to make a paper hat out of them. Use that fold as a guide to cut them in half.

I used a little health magazine thing from our health insurance company. There was a little smaller than a traditional magazine so I could just folded in half and then cut along the edge. The pages were still too big, so I folded each one into fourths and cut along the folds.

In the end, I had eight pieces of paper per original page.

I made the tubes by rolling the paper away from me at an angle.
I made the tubes by rolling the paper away from me at an angle. | Source

Making the Rolls

You probably think that growing up paper would be pretty easy, and it is. However, for this purpose you want to make sure each roll is the right length for the can. To get the best aesthetic look, roll at an angle so that there is a nice layered look.

I started with one corner on the left-hand side closest to me. I then rolled the paper away from my body. I then measured the roll against where I was going to put it on the coffee can.

If the roll ended up being too big, I just pushed the ends in a little after loosening of it and then tightened it again. If it was too small, I loosened the role and carefully pulled ends out, until it was long enough before tightening it again.

Once it’s the size that you’d like it to be, put a little bit of tape of the exposed corner to hold it in place.

A Short Video About How to Get Tube Length Right

This is how the can looked after I'd finished gluing the tubes onto it. The edges are very uneven, but they were easily hidden in the end.
This is how the can looked after I'd finished gluing the tubes onto it. The edges are very uneven, but they were easily hidden in the end. | Source

Gluing

You don’t need very much glue when you put the rolls on. I just used a thin line along the surface of the tube where I wanted it to attach.

You can orient the tube at a slight angle or straight up and down. Since I couldn’t roll each tube so it was perfectly uniform on both sides, I ended up having a natural slant once I got started.

Continue gluing the tubes onto the can until the entire surface is covered. Don’t worry if there’s a small gap between where you started and ended. Just add smaller roles to fill it up and it still looks great.

This is how much glue I used on each roll. You don't need much for it to hold well to the can.
This is how much glue I used on each roll. You don't need much for it to hold well to the can. | Source
The transformed coffee can, before I finished the lid.
The transformed coffee can, before I finished the lid. | Source

Finishing

When you’re done, you may just be able to trim the ends so that their level with the top and bottom of the can. If the can is an irregular shape, there are number of different things you can do to hide any edges that you couldn’t or don’t want to trim.

Crochet

When you crochet small covers, you get a nice old-fashioned look to the final project. Mine ended up looking a little like something an old lady would have been her house for candies. It still works for a little girl, though. However, with different types of yarn, you can achieve different looks.

Fabric.

Fabric is another good option. You can either attach it raw with glue to add a jagged, raw look to final project, or you can hem the ends for a more finished look. Felt as especially good fabric for this type of project.

To attach it, apply glue along the edge of the fabric and press in place. If you don’t feel like using glue, you can use a needle to make small stitches into the paper below the fabric instead.

More Magazine

If you want to continue using the rest of the magazine, continue rolling smaller pieces and apply them horizontally over the vertical ones after you trim the edges.

The top of the lid as I was gluing the tubes on.
The top of the lid as I was gluing the tubes on. | Source
The lid after I'd finished with the magazine. I was actually tempted to leave it like that, but it seemed too raw to go with the rest of the piece.
The lid after I'd finished with the magazine. I was actually tempted to leave it like that, but it seemed too raw to go with the rest of the piece. | Source
The finished lid.
The finished lid. | Source

Coffee Can Cover

There are a number of different things you can do for the cover of the coffee can. I went along with my crochet and magazine roll idea. Since the cover already had a raised lip, I added the rolls in the raised circle on top. I then crocheted a little tiny cover for the edges and glued it in place.

You can always decorate with paint or fabric. Or if the cover doesn’t have the company logo on it, there’s no reason not to leave it as is.

Other Ideas

This is a pretty neat method to create a unique gift box or as part of a gift, but that doesn’t mean there are other things that you can’t do with a magazine.

If the person you are giving this to enjoys a particular topic. You can always select pictures from magazines that relate to that topic, such as pictures of food, if the person loves cooking. Flowers could work for the gardener in your life. Attach those pictures to the outside of the can and perhaps transform it into a miniature wishing “well” or a tool to help motivate them towards completing their goals.

Origami is another good option, since most of those crafts can be kept flat and glued onto most types of surfaces.

These gifts are especially good for years commemorating new beginnings, like a married couple’s first holiday, baby’s first year or any other special anniversary.

When you’re finished, you’ll have a unique keepsake to keep throughout the years, or to give as a one of a kind gift to a loved one. There won’t be another like it in the world, and you would have saved money on the holiday present.

Another Coffee Can Upcycling Idea

© 2013 ESPeck1919

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Way too fun. Shared with my daughter

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! I hope she likes it. :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      very unique gift. Will be making for christmas

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Awesome! If you post a picture of yours somewhere, I'd love to see what you come up with.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      This the season to start thinking about making presents. This would make fun packaging.

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      I think so, to. :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      Very cool. I am loving all of the upcycling/recycling ideas and this is a good one. Shared around.

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks so much! You're always so supportive. It's awesome.

      Figuring out how to reuse stuff is such fun. :)

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