Best Gift Wrapping That’s Not Paper

Wrapping paper is one of those things that looks beautiful—for the few minutes a gift is under a tree or put into the hands of the recipient. Otherwise, it’s a big environmental, and sometimes financial, drain. As far as the planet goes, the amount of paper wasted on wrapping is staggering. Stanford University reports if every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! Worldwide, wrapping paper spending reaches $2.6 billion yearly. That’s a lot of money to throw away.

Here’s a better idea: Wrap gifts in fabric or containers that can be re-used. For example:

* Japanese Wrapping Cloths – These beautiful cloths come in various sizes and in different themes. Some are very Christmas-y, but others feature flowers and Japanese cultural icons. They’re reasonably priced and can be used over and over again.

* Cloth Christmas Gift Bags – These reusable bags are made from 100 percent cotton and are tied with a ribbon made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. They’re available in various sizes and for wine bottles.

* DIY Cloth Gift Bags – Make your own gift bags by sewing three sizes of fabric together, pinking the top with pinking shears and then tying a reusable ribbon around the top. Care2 offers instructions on making your own reusable burlap bags here—just dress them up with a bright and colorful ribbon, and you’re done.

* Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags – For $.99, you can get a reusable shopping bag, either grocery store sized or, at a place like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, jumbo sized. Putting even larger gifts in a bag saves so much time and paper wrapping, and people invariably love having a bag like this to reuse after the holidays are over.

* Towels & Napkins – Cloth towels and napkins are particularly good for wrapping small kitchen utensils, jars of special spices and sauces, organic coffee or tea, or chocolate.

* Holiday-themed Cardboard Boxes – Decorated cardboard boxes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can use them for clothing, games, food, beauty products and more.

* Socks – Whether you use holiday-themed socks or something more practical, socks can make the perfect “container” for jewelry, cosmetics, a small book, a special knick-knack, small battery chargers and other items. Tie them together at the top with shoelaces and you’ve given gifts within gifts.

* Reusable Food Containers – Use an empty (and clean) cardboard oatmeal canister, a stainless steel pot with a lid, a covered glass casserole dish or something else fun and whimsical. It’s fun to try to guess what might be inside such an unusual wrap.

* Bento Box - All of the compartments in a Bento Box make it perfect for cosmetics or beauty products, jewelry, or other small items. Use the stackable boxes for kid’s toys, like items for a doll house.

* Glass Vase or Bowl – One of the loveliest gifts I ever got was a bunch of Narcissus bulbs already set in stones, in a beautiful antique glass blowl. The bulbs flowered and then died, but I still have that bowl, a treasured gift from a good friend.

What’s your favorite eco-friendly way to wrap a gift? Please share!

5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Wrap IdeasWhat’s in Your Starbucks Gingerbread Latte?
10 Gifts That Also Give to Wildlife



Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Great tips thanks for sharing

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

We also use the comics page out of the Sunday papers too.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

And remembering back, my mum used to recycle the wrapping paper !!!! Careful opening then ironing, and putting away for next year.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Paper gift bags get recycled in our house too.

Peggy Binnion
Peggy B3 years ago

I like the reusable or make your own reusable shopping bag for a gift bag. The recipient will get 2 gifts in one that way especially if the receiver doesn't like to use plastic shopping bags. Win win.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Cela V.
Cela V3 years ago

nice!!! tyfs

holly masih
.3 years ago

Good ideas.If you do use the wrapping paper,please use the kind that can be recycled. :)

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 3 years ago

I like the idea of the decorative cardboard boxes, as well as gift bags! Thank you for sharing.