Best Non-Paper Gift Wrapping Options

Are you still using regular gift paper to wrap your presents? If so, this post is definitely for you! Paper is out, holiday bags, boxes and fabric are in. Here’s why:

They Save Time. It takes maybe 5 minutes at most to put a package in a bag, put a little tissue paper on top and tag it. Wrapping the same present could take 15 minutes or more, depending on how you have to fuss with it.

They Save Money. A gift bag can be used over and over and over again. Unlike wrapping paper that gets all wrinkled and creased when it comes off a package, a bag or box pretty much keeps their shape, so reusing them are easy peasy. You’ll save money on tape, too.

They’re Better for the Environment. They don’t waste paper or create a mess of trash you’ll need to cart out to the curb or take to the dump. Plus, you won’t use tape.

They’re Pretty. Reusable bags and boxes are just as pretty as wrapping paper, though far more functional. You can find them printed with themes for every holiday, not just Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanzaa.

They Cut the Clutter. Bags and most boxes fold flat for easy storage. You won’t be left with little bits of wrapping paper, or long rolls that only have a small bit of paper attached to them.

Anyone Can Put a Gift in a Bag. Wrapping a gift with paper requires some modicum of skill, what with all that paper cutting and folding and taping. Even a 3-year old child can put a gift in a bag. You can get the kids involved in “wrapping” gifts they give to their siblings, or have your significant other do the wrapping and not worry what it will end up looking like!

Here’s what tops my list of best non-paper gift wrapping options:


Grocery Shopping Bags. 

Pretty much every grocery store now sells reusable grocery shopping bags, and for as little as 99 cents. They’re usually colorful enough to look like holiday bags, but generic enough that they can be used all year-round.

Reusable Cloth Shopping Bags.

Find them in department, big box, and hardware stores. In department stores like Macy’s or Kohl’s, reusable bags are mostly found in the purses and handbag department of the store. In places like Target, WalMart, Lowe’s, and Ace, they’re closer to the check-out.


Image credit: rennasverden via Flickr

Vintage Shoulder Bags and Messenger-Style Bags.

Find these in vintage shops and thrift stores. Make them part of the gift. Make sure they are clean and still have a long life ahead of them.

Holiday Boxes. 

Stores like Wal-Green’s, Rite Aide, and CVS sell packs of gaily-printed boxes in a variety of sizes. Don’t tape them closed. Merely put your gift in, tie a bow around the box, and you’re all done.

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Image credit: artistmam via Flickr


I’ve also sewn bags out of holiday fabric, which I tie at the top with ribbon or twine. Traditional Japanese gift-wrapping, called furoshiki, involves using clean cloth to wrap gifts rather than paper (see image above). Learn more about the art of furoshiki here.

Towels & Scarves.  

Thin kitchen towels and wide scarves make lovely wrapping and become part of the gift you give. There are lots of holiday towel designs to choose from, but generic styles can be used throughout the year.


Image credit: juliepics via Flickr

Newspaper & Junk Mail. 

Junk mail is certainly annoying, but it’s also colorful. Give it a new life as gift wrap before sending it to the recycle bin.  Once you have your gift, you can add a festive bow made from junk mail or a magazine page like the one below. Get the directions here.


Image credit:

If you do need wrapping, first look for paper-free options. Among the fibers being turned into wrapping are hemp, garlic skins and coffee chaff.

If only actual paper will do, you still have options that are greener and more eco-friendly than wrapping made from virgin fiber. The best choice is paper that is not merely “recyclable,” but made from recycled paper fabricated from 100% post-consumer waste, or PCW.

Why PCW? Because PCW actually prevents waste paper from going to the landfill. The more PCW in a wrapping paper, the better. So before you buy, read the label. Recyclable isn’t nearly as meaningful as recycled, and 100% PCW recycled content is best of all.

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping: Furoshiki
12 Green Alternatives to Wrapping Paper


lennon horton
lennon horton3 months ago

great idea

Christine S
Christine Stewart3 months ago


hELEN hEARFIELD3 months ago


Lesa D
Past Member 3 months ago

thank you Diane...

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyerabout a year ago

newspaper and a bow

Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago

I like these ideas, tks for sharing.

Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a year ago

Ok. Good ideas to keep in mind. Thankyou

Tara W
Tara Wabout a year ago

I love furoshiki! Any pretty square scarf can be used to create beautiful, reusable, and versatile wrapping.

Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

I've used all these tips. I however find that a roll of paper is more economical than using bags. I make bows out of the same paper I wrapped the gift in. Easy to do. Bags aren't cheap and sure they can be used again but not by you. The recipient of the gift can use them again but you'll have to buy more the next year. Another alternative is to use cheap plastic table cloth's. They will wrap several gifts. Instead of a bow just tape a candy cane to the package.

Karen P.
Karen P4 years ago

One year I bought some pressies in a department store that advertised free pressie wrapping. I had to stifle my laughter as this poor person made a much worse job of wrapping the present than I would ever have done! Had to take the sucker home and re-wrap myself. I'm a fan of bags too, and several have done quite a few rounds.