Published 1 December 2021 ● Last Updated on 15 November 2022

The holiday season is undoubtedly one of the most jubilant times of the year. One activity that many of us look forward to during this period is giving, receiving and opening gifts. Ever thought of what happens to the gift wrapper once it has revealed  the underlying reward? When we were growing up, neatly folded and used wrapping material would show up in most unique places in the home – tucked under the bed mattress, laid out under the lining of the kitchen shelves or even at the back of the most unassuming cabinets – carefully salvaged by our parents to be used for the next occasion warranting a gift. 

These days, in most cases, the used wrapping just ends up in the bin, never to be seen again. A study done in the UK in 2013 states that the amount of wrapping paper thrown away at Christmas in the UK would stretch to the moon. Now, that is a disturbing statistic! Want tips on simple and responsible ways to wrap your Christmas gift sustainably? Here are a few we have tried and loved:

1. re-New magazines & newspapers

If you have a pile of old magazines or newspapers that you haven’t sent in for recycling yet, now is your chance to give them a new lease of  life. Newspaper is an attractive alternative to traditional wrapping paper, creating a retro vintage Christmas look with the monochrome print standing out next to red and gold ribbon or green pine. You can choose to enhance the appeal of both newspaper and magazine paper by accentuating  with a hand-written message, a drawing, or a diy stamp design. In case you want to personalise further,  look for an article that complements the person or a ha-ha comic strip or an unsolved crossword puzzle. Make sure you pack the gift in a way that your ‘personal touch’ stands out on top as a bonus for the recipient. 

newspaper magazine christmas gift wrapping
Newspapers are useful for more than just ‘news. Use them for gift wrapping to spread joy in the festive season. (via Instagram@bilu.dekoriert)

2. re-Fash old fabric 

Fabric is a versatile eco-friendly alternative to Christmas wrapping – after all, it comes in lots of colours and patterns just like wrapping paper and can be used several times over. In Japan, fabric wrapping is so prevalent, it’s become an art form called “furoshiki”. Look around your house for festive pillow cases, sheets, tablecloths, old drapes, tea towels or even scarves that are the right size for your gift. Then on, get creative – either knot it or pin it or tie it with ribbon. After the presents are opened, the recipient can simply fold and store for next year or use it as is!

fabric for gift wrapping furoshiki
Combine old fabric and natural elements like twigs to add an old- world charm to your Christmas gifts.(via instagram@poppyanddaisydesigns)

3. re-Cover clean glass jars

Another gift -wrapping idea for a low-waste festive season is to use glass jars – provided your gift can fit within them. It’s a unique way to show that you have spent time and effort in wrapping the gift while also giving the recipient a reusable container. Add a personal touch by decorating the jar with some cinnamon sticks, candy canes, eucalyptus leaves, or even fairy lights. If you have some leftover pieces of cloth from furoshiki wrapping, use them to cover the top of the jar and tie it up with twine. If you don’t do it already, start saving up pretty glass jars after using the contents, clean well and remove the sticker if any. Not getting the jar of the right size? Just ask around.  

pack cookies, desserts, gift in glass jar
Curate a minibar in a jar- perfect for the one who loves to stay in high ‘spirits’. (Image credit:

4. re-Invigorate delivery boxes 

Using your delivery parcels and boxes instead of store-bought gift boxes is one of the easiest wrapping swaps to make. Wrap these boxes in old music sheets, maps or even brown paper or decorate them in a unique manner with paint, fabric ribbons, twine, burlap. Just get creative! Not to forget, packing in cardboard boxes is a great way to mask your present from curious kids (and very curious grown ups) before Christmas day!

Even the humble burger box, if grease free, can metamorphose into an artistic gift holder!(Image Credit: Anuja Aggarwal, Secondsguru)

5. re-Use wrapping paper and gift bags

Been mindful all year round? You will likely have some salvaged wrapping paper and packaging material tucked away . Paper and fabric gift bags are much loved packing options among earth-loving gift givers because they involve no tape or folding, and they’re easy to reuse. If you’re careful, even the cheap paper gift bags available at discount stores can be preserved for several years. 

If you have a creative bone or a few of them, you can even make gift bags with fabric. Burlap, flannel, and cotton make durable and visually appealing gift bag material. 

For all of the ideas we have shared, use decorative accents. Continue to save up odds and ends such as ribbons, stickers, twine, rope, even trinkets from your diy kit to decorate your gift. Want to go natural? Try your hand at ‘pretty little things’ found in nature- collect fallen twigs, tree sprigs, pine cones and dried garden herbs and flowers. 

Don’t forget to add a dollop of love each time you pick and pack a gift!

Related links:

DIY | Upcycle plastic bags into Christmas decor!

Let’s make festivals greener and planet-friendly


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