At this time of year, gift giving is rampant and most homes will have a pile of gifts, gradually growing, hanging around somewhere. It may be under a tree, it may be hidden in a closet, but no matter its location those gifts must be wrapped. Conventional wrapping equals yards and yards of paper, meters of tape, and probably a few plastic bows thrown in for good measure. Sometimes, you may have heavy festive paper boxes, or maybe some festive paper gift bags that can be reused. But, by and large, tissue paper and wrapping paper alike will make a huge pile on Christmas morning.
Also, if you need some fun sustainable and up-cycled gift options you can check out this article for ideas.
Easy Reusable Gift Wrap Options:
One: The easiest possible way to reduce Christmas paper waste is to transition into reusable boxes and gift bags. Boxes can last for several years, my family has two gift box sets that have lasted more than 10 years. We just re-stack the boxes and store them until the next season.
Two: A slightly less long-lasting option is standard gift bags. These can last anywhere from 2-8 gifts, if they don’t rip on the top and you remove the initial “to/from” tag. While gift bags work best with a piece (or two) of tissue paper coming out the top, the paper is not tapped and can also be reused. If you use solid tone gift bags, they do not have to be confined to the holiday season but can be used for gifts at other times as well.
Up-cycled Fabric Giftwrap Options:
The boxes and bags above are usually made from paper, so if you want an option with more ecofriendly potential, you can try fabric giftwrap.
Three: The easiest way to use fabric as giftwrap is to make fabric gift bags. Simply fold a piece of fabric in half and seam two sides. Fold the open end over to form the casing for a drawstring and sew in place. Turn the fabric right side out, thread the drawstring, and you have a fun reusable gift-sack for presents. Depending on the fabric used, you can make these reusable treasure bags to fit any gift-giving occasion.
Four: For a more up-cycled giftwrap option, use the legs from a pair of jeans, or the arms from sweaters to sew into narrow gift bags. These type of up-cycled gift bags are perfect for gifting wine, or other tall and narrow gifts.
Five: For a broader up-cycled gift bag, you can use the body from a worn blouse. Simply cut off the arms outside the arm seam, cut off the neckline to make the top of the bag. Trim the sides even with the arm holes, and trim the bottom to make the bag shorter, or not if you want it a bit taller. Then turn inside out and seam around the three trimmed sides. If you sew across the two corners, you can make a flat-bottomed bag too.
Other Fabric Giftwrap Options:
Six: If you are friends with someone who sews, why not wrap their gift in a fat quarter? You can use the Feroshiki method of wrapping with square pieces of fabric to make some fascinating and beautiful giftwrap. Of course, if you source the fabric from your up-cycled stash, it makes it even more ecofriendly. New fabric, however, works particularly well since it becomes part of the gift. There is a whole article on this wrapping technique over at Joybilee Farm.
Seven: Slightly in line with the Feroshiki method of wrapping, I like using wrap that doubles as part of the gift. As someone who likes to collect old linen handkerchiefs, hand-made doilies, and the like, I have frequently been given small gifts wrapped in these items. Not only does it save in paper, but you get two gifts in one!
There are also plenty of things to do with your other up-cycled and small-piece fabrics (free pdf).
Gift Wrap that Isn’t Wrapping:
Every now and then, you end up with a massive present that just won’t work for wrapping. At least, unless you used yards and yards of paper, and even then it might be guessed due to the size. For these situations, unwrap might be the best idea.
Eight: To do this, you start with a closet or other location where you can completely ensconce the gift. Then, there are two ways of leading the person to their gift.
The first is by making a string trail, a literal clew to follow (clew, from which we get clue, means ball of yarn in Old English). You can lay the trail all over the house, upstairs, downstairs, down to the basement, around the legs of the dining room table… the more complicated the more fun the person has following it around. Note: the end of the yarn can be wrapped under the tree waiting for them to start on the quest to find the present.
The second method is to write and hide paper clues, and have the first wrapped under the tree waiting for them. These paper clues, like the earlier string clue, can lead all over the house. Five to seven written clues are a good number, and not too long to lead to the gift.
Unwrap is a fun idea for gifts who’s size makes it difficult to fit under the tree, to wrap in general, or who’s size will give the contents away. I have seen this technique used, successfully, twice. The first was a string clue that led to a spinning wheel. The second was using paper clues that led to where stained glass light-fixtures where hidden in a closet, as the boxes the light fixtures were in would not have fit under the tree. For that matter, I also was once given a shelf who’s natural smooth brown box worked quite well as wrap as I had no idea what could be in that huge, non-wrapped, box.
Remember, if you are giving home-made edible gifts, cookie tins and mason jars are also reusable!
Wrapping Up The Gift Wrap:
Nine: Along with the diffusion of ways to wrap gifts, whether reusable, paper based, or up-cycled, the main goal is to disguise what the gift within is. What you can wrap a gift in, is only contained by your imagination. Have a clean pair of cowboy boots? Why not turn that into a wine holder? Using simple fabric coverings for gifts could make a very bright and festive gift basket, without the use of cellophane and an extra bag to keep the basket contents hidden. Cans, jars, and boxes can all be repurposed into gifts with just a little creativity, paint, stamps, and maybe some ribbons and tags.
Back To You:
Which of these gift wrap options have you used? What is your go-to gift wrapping method, no matter the time of year?