Rather than tossing the used wrapping paper at the end of a birthday party, you could save it to make bookmarks and ornaments.

iStockphoto.com/Olessya Laskova

Opening gifts at a birthday party, baby shower or holiday event is thrilling. It's always a treat to discover what's lurking underneath that shiny wrapping paper. But after you've scored all the loot, you often end up trashing that huge pile of wrapping and tissue paper. Is there something else you can do with it?

In these green times, recycling is a helpful and popular choice. But some recycling centers are a bit picky about what they will and will not accept. Wrapping paper is often rejected from recycling programs due to the foils or metals that are embedded within the paper during production [source: Landwehr]. But don't worry if you can't recycle your wrapping paper the old-fashioned way. There are endless opportunities to reuse what you have.

You may remember at least one family member or friend -- you know who you are -- who unwraps each birthday or holiday gift very slowly. Suddenly, the tension welling inside you reaches a fever pitch. Will he or she like the gift? Hurry up and open it already! But instead, he or she patiently pops open the tape and folds the paper into neat piles. To properly save wrapping paper for future recycled paper crafts, you need to be a bit like this person.

Here are some pointers that will help you preserve your wrapping paper:

  • Use scissors or a butter knife to cut through the tape instead of popping it. This will help keep the paper from ripping.
  • Designate a shopping bag or craft box to store the paper in and place the bag next to you before you start opening.
  • Roll the paper instead of folding it to avoid unsightly fold lines. Keep the paper rolled using a piece of spare tape or a rubber band.

Now that you have your paper, it's time to get creative. In this article, we'll discuss using recycled wrapping paper to make bookmarks, ornaments, bows and wreaths. Let's get started by looking at one of the world's greatest simplistic inventions: the bookmark.