Did you know that half of the paper consumed in the U.S. every year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products? This holiday season, I’m challenging myself to to wrap all the gifts I give in an eco-friendly way.
Why not join this challenge as well? Here are some eco-friendly tips for holiday gift wrapping.
The Eco-friendly Gift Wrapping Approach
Eco-friendly and green gift wrap can mean a lot of things, but for me, this means to reuse and recycle as much as possible.
1. Use what you already have.
Don’t buy any gift wrapping material unless you have to. Find inspiration from things lying around your house—shopping bags, newspaper ads, and the like. Once you start looking at material as potential gift wrapping aids, the possibilities are many.
2. Reuse as much as possible.
If you have a recycling bin that gets filled pretty often, then you have plenty of wrapping paper and containers. I’m starting to save my yogurt containers for gifts!
If you need to buy wrapping material, look for paper and bags that can be reused and recycled.
4. Less is more.
When you use unconventional materials for gift wrap, it’s easy to get carried away and think you need to make up for your approach by overly decorating the wrapped gift. Keep wrapped gifts as simple as possible. Just one little bow, a picture, or hand-written message on a brown box go a long way, making the gift look classy without looking like you tried too hard.
Preparing for Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping
Here are some basic gift wrap supplies you’ll need.
- Save paper shopping bags from stores.
- Ask for plain brown paper bags at stores.
- Save interesting newspaper, magazine pages, and newspapers.
- Save your child’s art work.
- Save some of that plain white paper you’d otherwise recycle.
- Old scarves, t-shirts, thin towels, and washcloths are great for wrapping oddly-shaped gifts.
- Bottles and tins are wonderful for packaging edible gifts.
- Small baby food containers are great for jewelry.
Keep these on hand for decorating wrapped gifts:
- Crayons (great for drawing on gift wrap)
- Small ornaments
- Little pieces of art work (to cut and glue to gift wrap)
A Few Gift Wrapping Ideas In Action
Although it’s not my personal favorite, cloth is great to wrap oddly-shaped gifts. Gifts for babies are great candidates for cloth wrapping.
I pulled a wash cloth tightly around this unusually-shaped teether.
2. Brown bags
Brown bags are incredibly versatile.
I learned this from a friend who always gives her gifts in simple brown packaging with one little bow. Classy and eco-friendly.
3. Brown paper from cut up brown bags
We have dozens of paper bags from Trader Joes. I used paper from a brown paper bag to wrap a little gift.
I used a miniature ornament to make it look a bit more special.
4. Plain paper with handmade embellishments
I wrapped this gift with plain white paper and a hand-written message for a special touch.
Don’t use ribbon; just use a crayon!
5. Children’s art work
I love children’s artwork because they are so unpredictable and look great almost all the time. In fact, the kids can be creating the gift wrap for you as you wrap the gifts.
Want to put a personal touch? Just ask the kids to make a custom drawing of the gift’s recipient!
Kids paint adventurously. The combination of colors they use is so festive, it makes for perfect wrapping paper.
I used part of my daughter’s painting to wrap this gift.
6. Bottles with a handmade label
It’s easy to transform bottles and tins into special gift packaging with a custom handmade label. All you need is a little white paper and some creativity.
My husband gave me a necklace in this bottle years ago. It is something I’ll save for the rest of my life.
I am a big fan of using newspapers to wrap gifts.
Use either the comics section with a simple bow or just the printed newspaper (no color or ads) for the classiest look.
What are some ways you creatively and frugally wrap presents?
Originally published on November 3, 2010.