12 Green Alternatives to Gift Wrapping Paper

As you’ve probably noticed, trashcans overflow after winter holiday festivities. Wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and boxes fill up a big portion of that too-stuffed trash bin. Ease the load going to the landfill by wrapping your gifts in repurposed items and reusable containers. Here are 12 great ideas to get your imagination rolling for preparing your presents and ensuring they’re something the recipient will never forget.

  • Reused Gift Bags
    Most of us have a stash of gift bags saved from presents we’ve received. Put them to good use and commit to using only gift bags instead of wrapping. Also, if you feel a gift bag isn’t finished without a filler like tissue paper, use a greener option–the shreds from your paper shredder!
  • Paper Grocery Bags
    You can create beautiful gift bags from materials found around the house. Decorate paper grocery bags with markers and crayons, or decoupage them with magazine cut-outs. Use it as wrapping paper or a gift sack. Put on the finishing touch with scrap ribbon from previous projects.
  • Reusable Cloth Bags
    Do you have scrap fabric lying around? Or maybe some old shirts you never wear but that have lovely patterns. Try your hand at some easy-sew cloth bags. Since you’re making them by hand, you can sew them to suit your needs. You can also design them to be practical for the recipient as a shopping bag. Your imagination is the limit.
  • Clay Pots
    Clay pots can make a present look extra interesting, and are a reusable item for the recipient. Place your gift in the pot, and use the drainage dish as the lid to hide the present from view. Tie it together with a reused ribbon, or strips of scrap fabric. You can also decorate the pot to personalize it using ceramic markers available at craft stores.
  • A Gift in a Gift
    One great way to make a gift extra special is to wrap it in another gift. A hand-knit scarf, a beautiful table cloth or runner, and hand-made purse or similar items are all great things to use for wrapping a gift within a gift.
  • Furoshiki
    This idea might be well combined with the “gift in a gift” suggestion. Furoshiki is a method of folding cloth into beautiful packages. Using a piece of beautifully printed cloth and a few knots in interesting places will create an eye-catching package.
  • A Bucket for Hobbyists
    Does the recipient have a hobby? Use a bucket-like item related to what they love. For the chef, a cooking pot. A watering can for the gardener. A hat box for the fashionista. Showing them you know them inside and out will make the wrapping even better than the gift inside.
  • Paper Waste
    Raiding the paper recycling bin is a great way to get materials for gift wrap. Magazine pages, notes from a class, the crossword puzzle from yesterday’s paper all could become ideal wrapping material for a package with personality.
  • Maps
    Maps, especially road maps, can become obsolete. However, they never loose their visual intrigue. Put them to good use as wrapping for a package that the recipient will turn over and over…and over and over…before opening.
  • Junk Mail
    What to do with junk mail that just keeps landing in your mailbox despite the fact that you signed up for the “do not mail” list? It’s frustrating to see the waste–however, all those offers to win big, or those colorful coupons become humorous wrapping material.
  • Cereal Boxes
    For clothing, accessories, and gifts on the thinner side, a cereal box is a great option for a unique container. Make it funny by adding a gift topper. For instance, if you’re using Cinnamon Toast Crunch, wrap it up with a recycled ribbon and stick a cinnamon stick in the knot of the bow. Or string some dried sliced fruit or berries through the ribbon.
  • Glass Jars
    After using up all the mayo for your world famous potato salad, use the jar as a gift container. Glass jars are versatile. Soak the label and remove it. Then get creative. Use recycled paper to line the interior as reversed wrapping to hide the gift, or leave it transparent for a “so close yet so far” effect. Use found objects to decorate it as a snowman or other winter icon. The options for how to use cloth, ribbon, and lid decorations are endless.

Tips for Toppers: To put that finishing touch on a gift, try a dried orange slice, a homemade gingerbread cookie, pinecones or a pine branch, or cinnamon sticks. Let your imagination roll on reusable, low-impact and found objects that would make the gift stand out from the crowd while staying practical.

Be a Green Wrap Star
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By Jaymi Heimbuch, Planet Green


Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

I always reuse gift bags, why wouldn't you? Thanks for some new ideas.

Christina C.
Christina C4 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Franck Rio
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing idea

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Nice ideas! I use newspaper magazine pages a lot. Thanks

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

some great ideas! thanks

Judy Apelis
Judy A5 years ago

Thank you.

Jennifer Bender
Jennifer Bender5 years ago

I have to agree with the cloth or gift within a gift idea. Sounds good. I think next Christmas I will give that a try.

RicHa R.
RicHa R.5 years ago

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago