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How to Reuse Old Books for Homemade Gifts

Upcycle an Old Book With These Craft Projects


I think craft projects made with old books are a really great gift idea for the booklover on your list. It reflects their love of the written word and also gives them something special made just for them. You can find old books at library sales, rummages, and used book stores. I just picked up ten old books at our local library sale and it cost under one dollar total for the entire batch, so they are not only easy to find but economical to craft with.

Projects like those found here are a good way to reuse old books which would normally get tossed. I can't think of a better gift for a friend who enjoys crafty things, words, or unique projects. The following craft projects vary in complexity from the novice to the artsy, so there's something here for every skill level.

Evergreen Christmas Tree

This project is great for the novice crafter, and uses book pages, glue, cardboard, and a small wooden dowel. Cut out several square pieces of book paper (getting slightly smaller each time) and then poke them onto the dowel. If you'd like, you can also use a pinking sheers to add interest to the pages. Then, just ruffle the edges a bit and you have a charming tree for your mantel. You could also give this to a friend or coworker as a gift.

Paper Lanterns

With the invention of faux tea lights, I'm seeing all kinds paper lanterns being used. The fake tea light goes inside the lantern, which you can create using old book pages or newspapers. Any paper that will allow light to come through works best. This tutorial shows you what it can look like.

This project works best to add ambiance for a party, or can also work as a nice gift for a new friend. You can pick up faux tea lights anywhere, even the dollar store. They usually come in a pack of three or more, and "burn" for several hours.

Paper Snowflakes

These charming paper snowflakes can be make with larger book pages. The tutorial shows them made with music paper, but they'd also look great with book or map pages. Like most projects like this, they take some precision and patience, but are definitely worth the effort. They would look great as ornaments or special package decorations. Click through for the tutorial.

Faux Curled Rosewood Wreath

Wreaths are a good gift for friends anytime of the year, and this one made from old book pages has a shabby chic look to it. For this project you'll need a foam wreath form, hot glue gun, ribbon, and several old book pages.

The project involves cutting out curls from pages and then winding them up to resemble roses. The flowers are tight and small, and when pressed together really do look like the form of a rose. The black and white of the lettering give the project an old fashioned appeal, yet the design can be dressed up depending on the type of ribbon you use. While the main project highlighted here is a wreath, there is also a tutorial to use the flowers as a funky gift ribbon.

Book Bag

This project definitely gives new meaning to the term book bag! While book pages are popular to use in crafting projects, this one uses the outside of a book. Hardcover books serve as the sides for a small purse, so it's a fun little project for one of your girlfriends. For this project you'll need an old book, purse handles (which you can find at any craft store), half of a yard of fabric (your choice), and embellishments like a ribbon and button for the closure. The fabric acts as the sides for the purse. Clever.

Book Planters

I would have never thought of carving out books to put a plant in them, but I have to admit when I saw this it looked pretty cute. What you'll be doing is gluing the book pages down, and taking out the center. Then, put some wax paper or a plastic bag in the hole you've carved, and place your plant. Two-to-three small succulents are recommended for this project because they fit well and can grow in the confines of this space. What you'll see when it's all finished is the book lying open and the plant poking out from the main part of the book. A very different way to display an old book along with some greenery.

For this project you'll need an exacto knife, small plants, and some craft glue, in addition to the old book.

Book Page Ornament

This is a quick and easy project that just about anyone can do. It involves cutting out the shape of a bird and wings from old book pages, then gluing them together and attaching twine (or ribbon) to hang. Finally, a small twig works for the feet. Glitter or fun ink dyes will also make this project unique. This is a good one to experiment with if you're new to crafting. The project makes a nice topper for a gift, as a stocking stuffer, or as an ornament. It's a small gesture that will mean a lot to a friend.

Newspaper Basket

This project would work with a very large coffee table book, or with newspaper pages, depending on how big you want to make the basket. It also requires some weaving and general crafting knowledge. What you do is take strips of paper (the tutorial used about 20 pages or 40 strips), and weaved them together to form the bottom. Then, weave upward to make the sides of the basket. It's a detailed project, but very unique and would be a wonderful catch all for a kitchen or family room. I think it would also make a nice house warming gift for a friend or new neighbor. Click through for the newspaper basket tutorial.

Spikey Decorative Balls

This unique project can be created for ornaments or just decorative balls that you place in a bowl. These take some time, but the effect is definitely worth it. To make these, you'll need some old book pages, something round to trace out the circles (a blank CD spacer was used for the tutorial), pencil, scissors, glue, a hole punch, and a bamboo skewer (or other sharp device that can poke a hole in the paper). Click through for the tutorial.

Redecorated Lampshade

This is a great idea for a friend or even yourself. Take a store-bought lampshade, and add book pages randomly on it. The illustration from MSN Decor shows old dictionary pages, but you could also use poetry, love letters, or any book that you really love.

If you're going to give this as a gift, you could add pages from your friend's favorite book, or just find words in the dictionary that you want to highlight. Things like "strength, love, friendship... " etc. Your imagination really is the only limit with this gift.

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