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!

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80 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Great tips thanks for sharing

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

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

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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.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Paper gift bags get recycled in our house too.

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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.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Cela V.
Cela V3 years ago

nice!!! tyfs

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holly masih
.3 years ago

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

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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.

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