Category Archives: reuse paper

Pretend To Campout: How To Make A Pretend Campfire and Paper Marshmallows

roasting pretend marshmallows

Believe it or not, children can have fun without watching TV. Take out some sleeping bags and let the kids pretend to camp out in the middle of your living room. They will enjoy building this imaginary campfire and pretending to roast marshmallows. Later they may tell each other stories, pretend to hear nocturnal animals lurking about, and imagine they are falling asleep under the stars.

pretend camp fire
How to make a pretend campfire:
Gather enough rocks to make the fire ring. Clean them off before bringing inside. We ripped up a brown paper bag and then twisted the pieces to look like firewood. You could use real twigs and sticks but paper is cleaner. We used scrap pieces of felt for the flames. To make the flames, the kids and I cut up yellow felt scraps (you could use a mix of colors) so that they were a bit like irregular triangles. Then we pulled at the edges to soften the look. Arrange the rocks in a circle and build your fire.

How to make pretend marshmallows:
You will need one-sided office paper, a stick about 2 or so feet long and a little white glue or clear tape.

MYO marshmallow step 1
Take a piece of one-sided office paper. One-sided paper means that only one side is blank. Why use a new sheet of paper when you can reuse another?
Fold the paper in half long ways. You should have the printed on side hidden on the inside.

MYO marshmallow step 2
Fold in half again.

MYO marshmallow step 3

MYO marshmallow step 4
Roll the resulting strip of paper around the stick.

MYO marshmallow step 6
Fold another piece of paper as before. Then add a little glue to this new piece before adding.
Add more layers (strips of paper) until the marshmallow is the size you want it to be. You will want to save the piece of paper with the least amount of stuff on the other side to allow for the whitest marshmallow. Use a piece of clear tape or carefully glue the end of the strip in place. If you choose to glue instead of tape, you will need to put something on top of it to hold it in place while the glue dries.
For a roasted look, be creative. We used watercolors and a sponge to apply paint around the edges.

campfire for girls and dolls

Here are some snapshots. These clever girls inspired me to do this post. They came up with the marshmallow idea.  They used shorter sticks for their dolls to use. The sticks were held on with elastic bands.

How To Fold Origami Gift Boxes: Easy To Follow Photo Instructions

Origami gift boxes are very versatile: organize your little things, use as party favors, or hold keepsakes. You needn’t spend a lot of money for wrapping paper; they look cool as is. You don’t even have to buy origami paper. All you need is to keep your eyes open for some cool paper just begging to be put to good use. Magazines usually aren’t made with thick enough paper for these boxes but sometimes their covers are.

I made this box from a brightly colored poster found at a garage sale. It was damaged but I only needed part of the poster to make the box.
Cut the bottom square ¼ inch smaller than the top square. (I used an 8.5 inch square to make the top and an 8.25 inch square to make the bottom.

Remember to line up corners and sides exactly and run the back of your nail across the folds.
1. To make this origami box you will need a perfectly square piece of paper. A paper cutter works great but if you do not have one you will need to measure carefully and then cut with scissors.
2. Before doing your first fold, place your square so the back side is up (the good side is face down). Then bring opposite corners together and make a nice crease.
3. Unfold and bring other opposite corners together and make a nice crease.
Your paper should now have fold lines in the shape of an x.
4. Again, with the back side up, fold your paper in half vertically.
5. Unfold. Fold paper in half horizontally. This means fold the bottom corners up to the top corners. (I forgot to take this picture: sorry.)
6. Unfold. Next fold in one of the corners. Point the corner to the exact center of the paper. You will know where that is by looking at the fold lines that you already made.
7. Fold in another corner.
8. Fold in another corner.
9. Fold in last corner.
10. Fold the bottom up to the center as shown in the picture.
11. Fold the top: they should meet in the center.
12. Unfold. Fold one side to the center.
13. Fold the other side. They should meet in the center.
14. Unfold last two folds. Pull open opposite corners.
15. Fold up two (opposite) sides. These will be two of the sides of your box.
16. To finish your box you will have to fold the paper in as shown.
17. I thought another view might be helpful. This is the hardest step to figure out. Hold your soon- to-be box top in the same orientation as shown in the photo and you should be fine.
18. Bring the corners up and around to the inside.
19. Completed box top.
20. Follow the same instructions to make a bottom for your box; remember to cut the square for your box bottom ¼ inch smaller that the square you cut for the top of your box.

Project ideas: Valentine card reused to make origami box, vintage Valentine embellished origami box, and magazine page made into Valentine gift box.

Make It Convenient To Reuse Your Office Paper

Want to be less wasteful? If you have paper from your office or home office, save it for another use. Your kids might bring home a lot of one-sided papers from school and they can also be reused. This is especially good if you have kids who like to doodle. Grownups will find uses for it too (to-do lists or shopping lists).


Provide a convenient place to keep your paper and scrap paper. I found this metal file holder at a thrift store. Print out a friendly reminder that says: Scrap Paper for Reuse -One blank side and New Paper-Use sparingly.

Make Your Own Envelopes From Salvaged Paper


If you take a piece of standard lined notebook paper and fold it in half then fold it in half again the other way, it will fit nicely into this 4 x 6 inches envelope.


You can buy an envelope stencil or you can make your own. Just find a pre-used envelope and use it as a stencil. Better yet use that envelope to make your own stencil out of an old file folder or a piece of plastic. I used an ex-ray from when my husband broke his elbow; I knew I’d find a use for them someday.


On envelopes that are too dark to write directly on, you can apply sticker labels.


To eliminate the need for stickers, I like to cut a window in the envelope with an X-acto knife. Children should use scissors. Place your letter inside the envelope and write the address on the back of your letter where it shows out the window.


A. Cute cat envelope was made from an old calender.
B. Frog envelope was made from a used Ranger Rick Magazine.
C. Jungle envelope was made from a damaged book called Animaze! by W. Madgwick.
D. Farmer envelope was made from a book that was falling apart (Meet Jack Appleknocker by A. Sundgaard).
E. Crocodile gift tag envelope is made from a page in a book called Lyle Finds His Mother by B. Waber.
F. Beautiful Fish envelopes were made by my children out of a book they got at a yard sale: Cayman Underwater Paradise by Pitcairn and Paul.
G. Boat envelope was made from a Baby Einstein Book that was well worn. The image is of a Van Gogh painting called Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

How 2: Easy cat envelope Cut your paper 9 ½ inches x 6 inches. Make your first fold at line b (see image above). The distance between a and b should be 4 inches. After you have made your first fold, you will need to add a small line of glue alone the two sides (or use a glue stick). The flap of the envelope (c to d) needs to be folded down. Easy.

Other envelopes Trace your stencil onto a piece of funny/ beautiful/ cute/ wacky/ or trendy piece of re-claimed paper. Save interesting paper to be used for this purpose. Use Salvaged, damaged, and/or vintage books, fashion magazines, catalogs, calendars, old posters, whatever. Be aware of where on the envelope the image will be. Fold. Use a small amount of glue to adhere it together.

Origami Gift Box Made From Reclaimed Paper (3 of 3)


Make a sweetheart box from a valentine card you received (don’t just throw them away). Cards will make sturdy boxes but will often be tiny due to the limited size of the original card. Yet, what a nice memento. Alternatively, it would be nice for your child to give them to their special friends with a simple gift inside such as a home-made bracelet made with scrap yarn and a wooden bead.
A 4.5 inch square piece of paper yields a box top of 1 9/16 square inches and 13/16 inches tall.

How 2: See my post on how to make origami gift boxes: easy to follow photo instructions. They are easy enough for adults and older children to make. I hope you have been inspired.