Sustainability made simple

Eco-Friendly Tips for Wrapping Christmas Presents

wrapping Christmas presents
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / KRiemer

Choosing sustainable gifts is only the first step towards an eco-friendly Christmas. Now you have to wrap them! Read on for some clever ideas for wrapping Christmas presents.

There are many ways to show your loved ones and the planet a little love this holiday season. From buying second-hand to choosing sustainable and zero-waste gifts, your sustainable practices don’t have to stop gift-giving itself. Your can also choose an eco-friendly and green method of wrapping Christmas presents.

Though sometimes you can recycle wrapping paper, a lot of gift wrapping contributes to single-use paper and plastic waste. We’ve put together some environmentally conscious ideas and top tips for making your Christmas gift wrapping more eco-friendly. 

Skip Wrapping Altogether

Tie a bow around your presents this year!
Tie a bow around your presents this year!
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / macroworlds)

The most sustainable solution for wrapping Christmas presents is always to abstain from buying and using unnecessary products. Simply tieing a bow around a gift with scrap yarn, thread or ribbon can often suffice. In many households in the UK, it’s customary for Santa to leave gifts in a pillowcase at the end of the bed, with no wrapping required. Similarly, filling a stocking with small, unwrapped gifts is another accidentally eco-friendly tradition!

For more tips on how to have a sustainable holiday with less waste, read our article 10 Simple Tips for a Stress-Free Minimalist Christmas.

Wrapping Christmas Presents With Brown Paper

Brown packing paper is eco-friendly and cheaper than traditional Christmas wrapping paper.
Brown packing paper is eco-friendly and cheaper than traditional Christmas wrapping paper.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / motaztawfik)

However, if wrapping Christmas presents is an important part of your holiday tradition, more sustainable options are available. Most post offices or craft stores will have plain brown packing paper available for much less than traditional wrapping paper.

The bonus is that it not only looks super chic, but it’s easier to recycle and eco-friendly! This paper contains no ink or plastic blends, which is why recycling plants sometimes refuse wrapping paper. To keep it eco-friendly, avoid using plastic-backed tapes. Opt instead for ribbons, string or even paper-backed tape if necessary.

If the neutral color scheme is not to your liking, there are many ways to get creative and make this paper as unique as you are. Lyrics, poems, paintings and drawings can jazz up your eco-friendly wrapping paper. You can also give our homemade potato stamp tutorial a try to turn wrapping Christmas presents into a fun craft activity. 

Use Fabric

Try experimenting with fabrics you already have.
Try experimenting with fabrics you already have.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Joa70)

There are many ways to be creative with fabric as an eco-friendly gift-wrapping solution. Here are a few ideas — but feel free to experiment and work with what you’ve already got to hand.

  • Use a bandana or scarf (especially convenient if you want to include the scarf as an additional gift!)
  • Make a gift bag with ribbon drawstrings to store several gifts bound together. This is great option for using up small amounts of scrap fabric.
  • Wrapping Christmas presents in Christmas-themed tablecloths, blankets, or tea towels is also a fun, cozy alternative. Secure the fabric using eco-friendly twine, tape or ribbons. 
  • If you want to consider something a bit more advanced for your eco-minded friends and family, you could try Furoshiki. This is a Japanese wrapping tradition that uses fabric cloths intended to be reused. Attach a note to the gift with instructions for how to reuse the cloth. 

If the person you give the gift does not want the material, there is no need to be embarrassed about asking for it back. You can use the same fabric for wrapping Christmas presents year after year! Our article on Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas can give you more tips on how to avoid using paper wrapping at all this year.

Reuse Scrap Paper

Sheet music wrapping is an excellent gift for a musician.
Sheet music wrapping is an excellent gift for a musician.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / k-e-k-u-l-é)

Collect scrap paper from your place of work or your home office throughout the year. While scrap paper might not always be the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s an excellent option for wrapping Christmas presents that are a little smaller. Sheet music pages work especially well and can be perfect for your music-loving friends and family.

Another option is layering your scraps to cover larger gifts. Just be careful what kind of tape you use; avoid plastic-backed tape to keep things eco-friendly.

For difficult-to-wrap gifts, you can also craft origami boxes out of scrap paper. Making a small box is easy — thousands of instructional videos are available online. 

More creative alternatives for wrapping Christmas presents include:

  • Newspaper is an excellent alternative for wrapping your gifts while keeping things chic. If you’re living away from home, your loved ones may also appreciate their gifts wrapped in a foreign newspaper!
  • Reuse your old maps as gift wrapping. If you don’t own any maps, you may be able to find them for sale at reduced prices in second-hand bookstores.
  • Some home decorating stores have wallpaper samples you can take for free. These samples make luxuriously thick wrapping paper that you can use multiple times.
  • You can also use old magazine pages pieced together. National Geographic magazines are great for this. 

Wrapping Christmas Presents in Boxes

Boxes are eco-friendly that make wrapping gifts easier.
Boxes are eco-friendly that make wrapping gifts easier.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / neelam279)

An easy-to-find alternative to Christmas wrapping paper is the standard shoe box. Not only are they an eco-friendly option, but they also make wrapping awkwardly shaped gifts much easier. All you have to do is place your gifts in the box and decorate it with string or ribbon. You can even jazz up the outside using leftover tissue paper and eco-friendly glue.

Gift boxes are also great for gifting homemade treats like biscuits and cakes. Make sure the paper is thick enough to hold the weight of your treats. Gift boxes also make a convenient, environmentally friendly alternative to plastic food bags.

You could even craft a custom box out of old cereal boxes for wrapping Christmas presents, turning them inside out for a uniform appearance. That way, you can decorate the non-printed side as though it were brown paper.

If you have time on your hands over the holidays and want to try something new, you could also try making a lidded basket from foraged pine needles for a unique and eco-friendly way to wrap Christmas presents.

Old Wrapping Paper

Don't throw away gaudy wrapping paper from your own gifts.
Don't throw away gaudy wrapping paper from your own gifts.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)

While you can try your best to give eco-friendly gifts, you can’t guarantee that everyone else will be wrapping Christmas presents the same way. Not to worry! You don’t have to throw away that gaudy wrapping paper, you can reuse it for next year and still make a positive impact on the world.

The downside is that it can take time and effort to open your gifts without ripping the paper and pick off the tape. However, if you collect a supply of gift bags, ribbons, and bows from gifts throughout the year, you’ll be able to save money and the environment come Christmastime. 

See our guides on how to dispose of other items you might have used this holiday:

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