As the Christmas season approaches, it is important to keep a “green” Christmas in mind, despite dreaming of a white, fluffy-snow filled time. Around the holidays, collectively our waste typically increases by 25-30%. From extra packaged foods, to extra trips to the store, and wasted food from over cooking…. All the way to the gifts under the tree wrapped in foil, paper, and plastic ribbon. Right now, stores have stocked their shelves with packaged wrapping paper and lots of tape! There are so many ways to wrap gifts that do not include spending more cash on wrapping that just ends up in the trash bin. 

Last December, I posted an article titled Greener Ways to Gift Wrap, which included a small tutorial on how to wrap a gift without using tape, as well as fabric wrapping. This year, I’m sharing some new ideas to “spruce” up your gifts under the tree, as well as a mention of classic fabric wrapping too. 


A Pint Sized Impact

1. Making Your Own Gift Wrap

This is a fun way to customize your gift giving experience while still using recycled material. Potato stamps are an easy to carve and stamp material that is also great for kids (proven by my friend Teegan just this past week), and could even turn into a nice pre-Christmas crafting activity. Pictured here, I used a regular kitchen knife to slice the potato (draw your shape on first), and used a watered down acrylic paint for printing. Any paint is appropriate to use here, but if you are using a plastic based paint (like acrylic), it is easier to recycle if the paint is thinned down with a bit of water to avoid paint clumps. This technique would also be great used on newspapers for wrapping.

2. Recycled Paper

Throughout the year you may receive packages in the mail that include brown paper as sustainable item padding in the box. This paper is great to keep and use for gift giving during the holidays. It makes for beautiful and rustic looking gift wrap.

*Tip* Try setting your iron to low-med heat and giving the paper a quick press before using it. This gets out some of the crinkles if your paper was folded without burning it. Don’t leave the iron in one spot for too long though, as paper is still flammable. 

Using old maps to wrap tapeless!

Other papers that could be used as gift wrap:

  • Newspaper
  • Old calendars
  • Folded maps
  • Reused and ironed tissue paper

3. Sewing Paper Together

Try sewing the edges of some brown paper with a cotton thread, and place your gift inside. This is a fun way to wrap gifts if you are looking to go tapeless and make the wrapping exciting by creating different paper shapes such as a heart, star, or sock stocking. This wrapping technique also works great for smaller objects.

4. Using Toilet Paper Rolls

Toilet paper or paper towel rolls make the perfect little case for small gifts. The edges of the roll can be pressed inwards for closing, no tape required, and it can be dressed up with any kind of ribbon, fabric, and gift tags. 

5. Cereal Box Gift Bags

This is a fun and easy trick! To transform a cereal box into a gift bag, there are a few style choices you could explore. The first is covering the box in some kind of paper…I used the brown recycled paper I had around. You also don’t have to cover the box completely, and could wrap a ribbon around it instead to really bring out the “upcycled” kind of look. With my covered box, I closed the top by wrapping a wool string around it to make the box seem more gift-like. But, a cereal box is great because there are so many options for creating handles and dressing it up to look festive. Try handle cutouts or attaching tshirt yarn! 

6. Fabric Wrapping

Still a gift wrap option I use quite often, and one certainly gaining popularity! Fabric works wonders for wrapping gifts and can be reused endlessly. Wrapping uniquely shaped objects has a bit of a learning curve, but it is very easy to get the hang of. Two different techniques shown here, you can bunch your fabric in one area and tie it with a string, or explore fabric folding techniques with more standard shaped boxes. See my original post about reusable fabric gift wrap for more details.

7. Wrapping Gifts in Something Usable

Thinking of low waste wrapping, why not try wrapping a gift in the gift itself! Place a gift in another item the gift recipient can keep and use such as a scarf, bread bag, bowl with a fabric bowl cover, beeswax wrap, a toque, or reusable grocery bag! I love this option because it makes the gift wrap completely usable!

8. Gift Wrap Accessories

There are many ways to finish a gift and make it look festive, but gift bows and ribbon (except the fabric kind) are often made of plastic and are not very reusable. There are many great ways to make any gift look festive without the waste, including how it is tied and any other accessories used to dress up the top of your gift!

Try these low waste gift accessories:

  • Dried orange slices and cinnamon
  • Hemp or butchers twine for tying
  • Wool or cotton yarn ends
  • Tree slices turned into ornaments
  • Upcycled gift tags from old Christmas cards
  • Small cuts of pine, cedar, or fresh herbs, tucked under the gift tie
  • Cinnamon cookie ornaments (these smell extremely festive!)
  • Depending who your gift is for, consider adding a dog biscuit, cookie recipe, or a small spice bag to the top!
  • Bamboo cutlery 
  • Pine cones or acorns

Hopefully these ideas can spruce up your low waste gift giving goals this year, as creating and preparing your gifts are half the fun of gifting! Let’s make it fun for the planet too. 

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