Gift Box Idea: Recycle a Ribbon Spool

Mother’s Day is on May 13th. That is less than 3 weeks away. Earth Day was three day ago. To celebrate each I have a gift box idea for you.  I made the box in honor of my mom using recycled materials– empty ribbon spools that I normally would have thrown in the trash.

My mom is no longer here on on earth, but I do like to think about her on Mother’s Day even though I no longer need to give her a gift.   She loved creative things and always preferred handmade over store bought gifts. Every year as I was growing up,  I would try to come up with something special for her.  She often liked how I wrapped the gifts, better than the actual gift.

I used an empty ribbon spool to create a pretty and functional gift box.  I made a few to show you that there are many different ways to embellish these ribbon spool boxes to fit perfectly with your mom’s personality.  The cost to make this is next to nothing.  Gift wrap, tissue paper, small snippets of ribbon, and a bead or button.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

I love coming up with ways to recycle packaging – like these ribbon spools. I use lots of ribbon and hate seeing the spools go to waste. They look a little sad without ribbon, but with a few pieces of decorative paper they will soon be providing lots of personality  –  enabling you to give your mom or teacher a gift in fab gift box that has present presence.

How to make a gift box uisng a ribbon spool


supplies needed:

  • Ribbon spool
    Decorative paper
  • Cardboard – optional
  • Glue stick
  • Spray adhesive
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ribbon
  • Beads and buttons
  • Hot glue

1.  Carefully remove top and bottom circles from the spool. They come off fairly easily.  If they are damaged you can discard them and use a piece of cardboard instead.  Trace one end of cardboard tube two times on the center of the spool circles or a piece of cardboard and cut each circle out.

Recycled Gift box ideas

2. Cut two pieces of decorative paper (I found this black and white houndstooth at Marshalls) about 1- inch larger in diameter than your cut cardboard circles. Use a glue stick or spray adhesive to attach center of wrong side of paper to each cardboard circle. With scissors, cut tabs around paper and then glue them down around the cardboard circles.

Gift box ideas and tutorials

3. Cut 2 circles from paper the same size as the cardboard circles.   Glue one over the tabbed side of one of the circles.  Don’t cover the other circle yet.

Mothers Day Gift Ideas

4. To cover tube: Cut paper wide enough to go around the tube and slightly overlap. For height – cut 2-inches longer than height of tube. Center the paper over tube so there is excess paper on each end of the tube.

Use glue to attach paper to cardboard tube making sure there are no air bubbles or wrinkles.  Cut excess on top into tabs.  Fold down the tabs and glue.

Mother's Day gift box Ideas

5. For the bottom – use one of the covered circles -and fit to the bottom of the tube.  Cut excess paper into tabs. Fold tabs down around bottom and glue to secure.

Teacher Gift ideas

 6. Glue last circle over the bottom.

Mother's Day gift wrap ideas

 7. It should look like this.

Mother's Day gift wrap ideas

 8. For the lining: Use the same paper or a second coordinating one. I color copied a vintage floral hankie.  My mom loved lilacs  – these violets were the closest I could find.

Mother's Days gift ideas

9. Cut the paper to the height of the tube and wide enough to cover the inside of the tube,  Attach with glue.  (The two cardboard covered paper circles in the photo are for another project I will show you soon)

Recycled Craft Ideas

10.  To make the lid:  Use the other covered circle.  Cut a piece of ribbon long enough to travel from the bottom of the tube up and to the center of the top. Glue one end on the top and then  cover with the the cut paper circle.

Teacher gift Ideas

11.  You can also make the ribbon extra long and make a loop on the opposite side of the top so you have one continuous piece of ribbon running under the top. I chose to use a different ribbon for the loop/latch.  I cut a 3-inch piece, made a loop and glued the ends down under the paper.

Mother's Day gift wrap ideas

12. It looks like this.

Unique gift wrap ideas

13.  Run glue along the outside side of ribbon.

How to craft tutorial - boxes

14. Place ribbon inside tube and press in to secure.  Place a small dab of hot glue under the top edge where the ribbon acts as a hinge.  The glue stick doesn’t have enough holding power for this which is why hot glue is needed. Let the top hang down as shown until dry.

Gift wrap ideas for Mothers Day

15. It should look like this.  Hot glue a button on the outside of the tube where the ribbon will latch and loop around.  I used two buttons.  This is the first, I placed a flower rhinestone one on top of it to add more depth so that the ribbon loop had something to go around.

Unique Gift wrap ideas

How-to-make-a-curtain-rod-fI made paper flowers for the gift boxes shown in the first photo, but you could embellish the tops in many different ways.  If you would like to add your mom’s initial you can print these labels from Martha Stewart.  There is a free printout for every letter.  Click here to go to this page to print out the monogram labels.


After cutting out my initial, I cut out a piece of black paper slightly larger and glued them together.  I used scallop scissors to scallop the edges and then attached it to the top of the gift box.

Gift wrapping ideas

On the smallest box, I used a button on the ribbon. Under the ribbon tab is a sticky back Velcro dot.  I used a bead and a button with an inset center to loop the ribbon latch around.

Free printable inital monograms

Here is a recap of how the inside of the gift box looks. This spool is very short so it is easier to see how it all goes together.   As another variation you could leave off the top and create small bowls to hold paperclips, jewelry, or other small items.

Recycling Ideas for empty ribbon spools

To see how I made the pink flower you can follow the tutorial in this post:  How to Make a Tissue Paper Flower Valentine Box.

Here is the link to the post on how to make the frilly tissue paper mum gift box topper. 

Gift ideas for teachers

Mother's Day Gift Boxes Repurposed from Ribbon Spools

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  1. I love this! We use plenty of ribbon in varying sizes at work, and the spools end up in the garbage. I guess I’ll have to save them now!
    I love how pretty they all turn out, and I have so many ideas running through my head on how I can make different ones.
    Thank you for the inspiration, I’ve pinned this. And I’ve subscribed to your email updates! Can’t wait for more projects.
    Debbie :)

  2. Love this very precious idea! I love to do crafts but I feel terrible for all of the wasted boxes, wrappers and spools that I eventually throw in the trash. I absolutely love this idea and Im going to try it! I try to recycle as much as possible, because I think about what the world will be like when my four year old is my age! I would like to hope that she hs a beautiful Earth to live on! :)

  3. I love this idea! I always try to come up with different ways to wrap gifts and this will be perfect for earrings, bracelets, or other small items. And I love that it’s a recycling project too. You are just so very clever. Thanks for always being willing to share your creativity with others:)

  4. Diane! I just love these!! I will never throw another empty spool away again…
    Shabby Sweet Tea

  5. SouthernScraps says:

    Genius idea and these turned out beautiful! So glad I have discovered your blog.

  6. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I can relate to your mom’s ideas about homemade and that you are thinking of her and honoring her this way for ‘her’ day.

    Also, I whole heartedly second Kathleen’s comments.

  7. Well, y’ve done it t’me again, Diane ~y’ve left me in some state that’s a mix of equal parts awe and humility…not just about the project outputs ~ which, of course, are lovely and elegant as always ~ but with your clear, thoughtful, flawless directions, judiciously spiced with just the right amount of editorial comment and supplemental information; your fresh, beautifully-composed photos; and your inimitably gracious and distinctive branding. Since last we ‘spoke’, I’ve spent not a small amount of time exploring the blogisphere, and my research has only reinforced my original, albeit-somewhat-naive-and-uninformed first impression ~ your’s is still one of the most polished, effective _and evocative_ ‘voices’ out there in this category. You never cease to inspire ~ in so many ways ~ and,once again, I thank you.

  8. Lindy@ItsyBitsyPaper says:

    You are always so brilliant! Love this idea. I have a TON of ribbon spools that I always think I’ll craft with but never do–guess what? Now I will be thanks to your great idea.

  9. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    That is such a fun idea for empty spools, Diane! This would even be great for Christmas gifts, too. I guess I’ll be looking at my empty spools in a new way!

  10. What a way to do scrap crafting. I just love this idea. Thanks so much for sharing. Love following your blog. You come up with the most creative ideas. THANKS!!!

  11. Missyr333 says:

    Wow, this is so pretty! You are so creative and resourceful! I made something similar to this project, except I used some receipt roll canisters that my mom brought from her job. I didn’t decorate the inside though, and I use mine as pencil, scissor holders. What a good idea, to decorate the inside. Thank you so much for sharing your work. I will try this soon!

  12. I love this idea! I just turned ribbon spools into bangle bracelets! I love finding ways to make something new out of something old! Great post! I would love for you to stop by my blog! Thanks a bunch and take care.


  13. Great idea! And such a sweet little blog in honor of your mom – I just pinned it!

  14. This is such a cute idea. I think I may just have to borrow it for my kids to make to put their teacher thank you gifts in. Thanks for showing how something so simple can be so great.