DIY goodies for pen pals by upcycling / recycling?

I love upcycling / recycling and to make little gifts for my pen pals or happy mail. Do you do that, too?

I mean why should we throw good cardboard, paper etc. away? So I always try to find a little project to make something new out of things I have. If they are not too heavy (postal charges!) and fit well into an envelope, they are perfect for me. I’m not an artist but I love to find solutions that are simple and on a budget.

For example I kept these cardboard strips from my postcard calendar. Perfect cardboard but for weeks I had no idea how to use them?

I played around a little and this is what I finally did. :smiling_face:

1 Making bookmarks by gluing them on gift wrap paper for my bookworm pen pals. :blush:

2 Or cut them in 2 halves and make little gift tags.

Would you like to share some of your ideas, too?
That would be great! :heart_eyes:


By the way… have you ever thought about food-package bookmarks? I really like the designs of tea boxes and maybe a tea-drinking reader might like them, too?
:smiling_face: :teapot:

It could be nice to send the matching bookmark with a tea sample to your pen pal or add it when joining in one of the tea tags in the formum, too. :grin:


I dry up used teabags, then i get the tea out of them and draw something on it. Then you can use it as a bookmark. I don’t have photos of the ones that i made but i have one from Pinterest here.


This is a nice idea!

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Today I had cut out these scales from a box- I also have a plethora of envelopes I plan to utilize for crafting soon. Another happy mail upcycle is gift bags- fold and glue/tape. Many YT videos on it! :slight_smile:


Great idea!

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Using old book pages/paper sraps/leftovers to make/fold

  • (mini) envelopes
  • gift bags/envelopes
  • pockets (different variations)
  • match books
  • (mini) postcards/folded cards
  • (mini) note/writing/letter paper

I recently started junk journaling and so now I keep every scrap of interesting paper I can find. I have some used stamps, fortunes from fortune cookies, insides of envelopes that have neat patterns…and so on. I like your bookmarks very much.


Recently I discovered hidden paper-clips. I love them because they are so easy to be made. People on YouTube decorate them heavily but I like them easy and simple. And guess what… again I used tea boxes and the cardboard strips from my postcard calendar.

Hidden paper-clip calendar (left)… paper-clip without cover (middle) … paper-clip covered tea (right)

To make it easy I just leave the inner cardboard strip longer and only cut it after having the clip covered with the upper cardboard strip. So I don’t have to be too exact with measuring the cardboard strips.

Paper-clips from tea boxes

Paper-clips from tea boxes covered with gift wrap paper

I also found an old deck of cards that isn’t complete anymore. I wonder who stole the aces… :thinking: But the cards are too good to throw them away and I think I will try to find some more things to do with them. Do you have any suggestions?

Anyway, I find those paperclips very convenient. They keep e.g. the little note sheets I like to send in nice order and the good thing is that the paper doesn’t get crooked where I place the paper-clip like it sometimes happens with the conventional clips. :blush:

I also use them as bookmarks and to be honest, you can never have enought bookmarks.
:wink: :books: :bookmark:


Lovely ideas! :heart_eyes:

I must admit I only use my paper supplies for making postcards and sometimes envelopes. Somehow I don’t have much use for tags and I have plenty of bookmarks. But I really like to see your work, it’s great!

:green_heart: :fox_face:

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Thank you for your kind words @wurzelsofie ! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

I just thought this might be a nice idea to put our heads together and see what we can do. You know, upcycling can be one little part of the big puzzle to protect our environment and use our resources in a good way. The other thing is the paper shortage we have in Germany (I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world). And last but not least the inflation might be an issue most of us surely are affected by.

About the bookmarks… I have to confess I have a tendency to lose them somehow. So for me it is always good to have some in stock. But hey, losing bookmarks is likely to be a little less dangerous than losing reading glasses or keys, right? :grin:


Wow, I had no idea Germany had a paper shortage right now.

I’ve been thinking more about paper I’ve kept over the years. I’ve kept old wall calendars and made them into envelopes. I keep Christmas cards and make them into ornaments (the balls that are a bunch of small circles glued together). I ask that people send me my postcards in an envelope if they can and the used stamps are sent to charity and I keep what’s useable from the envelope for crafts/journaling. The big brown paper bags that we sometimes get, I save and use for sewing (for making templates). There are lots of ways to reuse paper.


Great! Thank you @alexisl for sharing some of your wonderful ideas for upcycling. This is so inspiring! In case you have any pictures, would you like to share them? That would be awesome. :star_struck:

And yes, about the paper shortage etc…. more and more things are changing right now and not all for the best, I fear. So I find it important to have a nice hobby and a great community in the spirit of kindness and sharing. :smiling_face:

You know, I love about postcrossing that it enables me not only to train my intercultural awareness, keep my English skills fresh, learn about people and their life and country, finding friends. It also helps me to keep sane in these really demanding times. :crazy_face:

Sometimes I think the postcrossing-team should get an award for making international understanding and friendship possible in such an easy and fun way. I wouldn’t miss sending and getting postcards or letters for the world and being a member of the forum.

Whatever goes on in the world - I understand that it is a lot about politics and media. But here I can see that we humans are nearly all the same with our hopes, our dreams, with our happy and sad days all over the world.

This gives me so much hope for the future and shows me that we actually are a kind of “family” due to our hobbies, interests, pets, parenting, loving nature or cultural things like music, movies, art etc. It seems that we at postcrossing might be seen as a kind of “writing family”, right?

Oh dear, excuse me for writing a novel. But I hope it makes some sense. :grin:


Here’s one of the ornaments I made. I used the inner circle of a mason jar lid as a guide for the circles.

I’ll have a look around the house tomorrow to see what other envelopes, etc I’ve made from reclaimed paper and still have hanging around and I’ll take photos.


Wow, this looks amazing, so festive! What a beautiful ornament. :heart_eyes:

It would be great if you find the time to take and share some pictures. I find it always inspiring to be able to see something. I’m looking forward to it. But really only if you have a moment for this. :blush:

Making something out of book pages is so much fun. Also I’m always looking for nice notepads for my pen pals.

Now I tried to make some notepads by gluing plain sheets to a book page and decorating them. And as some of our stamps come with these nice paper borders I like to use them instead of washi tape.

What do you think about this idea and would you give it a try, too?


Sorry most of Canada didn’t have internet access yesterday so I had to wait to post these.

Envelopes I’ve made:

I bought a big old atlas at a thrift shop for fifty cents and used it to make map envelopes. You can buy a roller that has special glue you can dry and lick later to close the envelope and I used it on these.

I got this pad of scrapbooking paper for free. It’s very thick though so if I put too much into the envelope it goes over the weight allowance and I have to use more postage. I like how the inside looks fancy too.

I was given a set of encyclopedias when a loved one passed away. These envelopes were made from the front and back inner cover papers.

You can buy special templates for making envelopes but I just found an envelope I already had and liked, then carefully pulled it apart and used it to make a template out of a cereal box. These envelopes were really fun to make and I like reusing paper as often as possible. I usually use a white label on the envelopes to make sure the machines can still read the address when I send it out.


Oh dear, no internet for a whole day, what a nightmare. :face_with_spiral_eyes: But we are not in a hurry. In the end it is about snail mail, isn’t it? :wink:

Your envelopes are so lovely. Yes, I like to make them from different sorts of paper, too. The map envelopes are really nice and the other ones are gorgeous, too. Tomorrow there will be a flea market in my area and I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe I will find some nice paper, note sheets or old books about flowers and herbs. More paper and hopefully more ideas to make something out of it. :grin:

How interesting to learn about the special glue. I think I will do a little research on the internet about this. Thank you for sharing!

I’m very sorry for your loss of your loved one. I hope you are surrounded by kind people to stand by you and give you comfort in these difficult times. :green_heart: I lost several people who were near to me in the last few years, too, and I’m still sad but also grateful for all the good memories I have.

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I love this! Do you bind the paper for the notepads with clue or how do you gift package them?

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Mostly I put them together with those handmade hidden paper-clips. But sometimes I gift package them or just send them as a single page. :blush:

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