Gift Wrapping Alternatives

Learn how to create beautiful, personalized gift wrappings that save resources and reduce our waste footprint! 

Gift Wrapping Alternatives

1. Wrapping & Tissue Paper from Last Year's Gifts

If you don't already do this, now is the time to start! Save intact boxes, bags, paper, ribbon, bows and cards to reuse as gift wrapping and accessorizing next year. For example, you can turn wrapping paper into bows, and greeting cards into gift tags!

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2. Newspaper, Flyers, Magazines & Calendars

Most households will have these materials in abundance. Especially with the year coming to an end, why not upcycle your calendar? Bring a special element into your gift wrap by using comic pages & puzzles from newspaper or fun images from magazines. 

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3. Maps, Sheet Music & Wallpaper

 Give your gift amazing character by using these materials. It can be used as the wrapping paper itself, or for accessorizing!

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4. Plain Paper 

Upcycle shipment packaging paper and paper grocery bags, or buy a new roll from the store if these options aren't available! The best part - your gift wrap is an open canvas to get creative, and you can even skip the tags by writing right on the gift. This is a sustainable alternative because unlike traditional printed wrapping paper, this material can be recycled! So be careful not to load on too many non-recyclable decorative pieces so the recipient can still put this item in their blue bag afterwards. 

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5. Scarves, Tapestries, Aprons & other Textiles

Use what you already have, check out your local thrift stores, or buy new as a gift with the intent of wrapping another gift. These can be worn or used by the recipient, or reused as gift wrapping in the future! Use this guide to Furoshiki (Japanese fabric wrapping) for making your own beautiful designs. 

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6. Pillow Cases

This is a perfect method for large items, or items that are awkward to wrap! Keep your eye out at thrift stores for festive, fun, and colorful pillowcases to use, or just use what you already have. Blankets/sheets also work well for these larger gifts, using the Furoshiki method mentioned above. 

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7. Children’s Art

Show off your children's art by selecting pieces already made, or encourage them to make new designs on plain, recyclable paper! 

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8. Chip Bags

Yes, you read it right! Save (and wash!) your chip bags for a truly unique and frugal way of wrapping presents. Either cut the bag and use as wrapping paper, or turn the bag inside-out and use as a gift bag and tie it with a bow! Use multiple bags taped together for larger items. 

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9. Burlap Sacks

These can found at places like Just Us! Coffee, where they're sold after being used to ship goods. They are perfect for large items, and can also be made into smaller bags or ribbons and bows. The best part - once it's no longer usable, it's compostable!

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10. Clay Pots

Place your gift in the pot and use the drainage tray as the lid. Leave it plain for the recipient to paint if they choose, or paint on a design yourself! (Make sure it matches their home decor so it gets used)

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11. Themed Hobby Bucket

Use a bucket-like item related to something the recipient loves. This could be a cooking pot for the chef, cookie jar for the baker, or a watering can for a gardener. Get creative!

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12. Cardboard Tubes & Food Boxes

Keep boxes and tubes as-is, or find neat templates online to create something new, such as this cereal box template, or this paper tube template!

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13. Shipment Materials

Shipping packages often include brown, "untreated" paper that is excellent for gift wrapping. Utilize what you have for paper and boxes, and visit local stores for their spare shipment materials! 

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14. Tins, Cans or Jars

These containers are perfect for putting gifts in. Remember - If it's recyclable, be careful not to load on too many non-recyclable decorative pieces so the recipient can still put this item in their blue bag afterwards! As for items like Pringles or nut containers, these go to the garbage regardless, so the sky is the limit! 

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15. Reusable Cloth Bags & Durable Reusable Boxes

These can often be found at thrift stores, or can be bought new. When buying new, it's smart to find products that are of good quality so it lasts several years. You can start a tradition with your family or friends and see how many years you can gift the same reusable box or bag back and forth, or even request that they return it after they unwrap their gift! 

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Accessorizing your Gifts

For your inspiration! 

1. Last Year's Holiday Cards

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2. Last Year's Wrapping Paper & Old Magazines

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3. Dried fruit

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4. Tree trimmings, Flowers & Herbs

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5. Biodegradable Twine

Cotton, jute, sisal and hemp types of string and twine are compostable!

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6. Last Year's Ribbon & Bows

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet! 

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7. Scraps of Yarn & Fabric

Cotton & wool scraps can be composted!

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8. Cinnamon sticks

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9. Burlap

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We hope you're inspired to cut down on your waste footprint this holiday season!

For the full guide to a low impact Christmas, click here

For low impact gift ideas, click here