Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping: 10 Creative Ideas

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping: 10 Creative Ideas

10 Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

I love Christmas with ALL the trimmings. The lights, the decorations, the cheesy songs (I’m looking at you Mariah Carey), and especially those wee piles of gifts under the tree.

So it’s also a conflicted time for me – I know all that Christmas tinsel and crappy cracker stuff is just devastating to the Earth, but… but… Christmas! Festive! Lights!  I’m sure lots of you feel the same - that perhaps it won’t feel like that time of year without mountains of gaudy decor and brightly wrapped gifts. 

The good news is that you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too - we’ve outlined some good ways to lower your impact overall for the festive season here. So that leaves Christmas wrapping - it’s truly possible to create gorgeous gifts without hurting the Earth. Here are a few of our favourite tips and tricks:

Use the wrapping paper you already own 

Tucked away in a closet somewhere, you’ll have an old roll of wrapping paper. It’s gaudy, non-recyclable and may have a few crinkles but it is still absolutely usable. The number one rule of living a more low-impact lifestyle is to use and care for the things you already have. So dust off the cobwebs on the wrapping paper you already own and encourage those around you to do the same.  

Start saving wrapping paper and ribbon

We all know someone who does this, so careful with that tape, so careful to fold the paper up again and put it in their box-o-wrapping paper. Saving the wrap from gifts means you’ll end up with a treasure trove of second-hand goodies - I unearthed my grandma’s stash after she passed away and I swear there was paper that must have dated back decades. 

Wrap without sellotape

Yes, tiny strips of sticky plastic - getting rid of it means less tiny strips of plastic in the world, and also means your wrapping paper is easy to reuse again and again. Here’s a good video outlining the process - the same Youtuber has tips for wrapping cylinders and long gifts too. 

Odd-shaped gifts might need a bit of extra security - in that case, look around your house for old ribbons or twine, et voila.  

10 Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

Use second-hand fabric

Once your old gift-wrapping tubes are used up, and your bag of saved wrapping paper is looking woefully empty, your next best option for eco-wrapping is second-hand fabric - please don’t go buying swathes of new cotton or polyester! Instead, clear out your cupboards - old pillowcases work wonders for larger gifts and that scarf collection you built up in the 90s adds pops of color. If you’re already well-cleansed in the cupboard department, hit up your second-hand shops. You’ll find mountains of old tea-towels, table clothes, scarves and linen, all begging for a shot at a new home. Ideally, the fabric can be used in a reusable form - that is, rather than ripping up a table cloth and handing out gifts wrapped in what are essentially pretty rags, sew them into something reusable - hem them into scarves or turn them into bags.

Here’s how to wrap using fabric in the Furoshiki style, and here’s a great tutorial for making reusable bags.

Find whacky second-hand paper

Second-hand shops are absolutely packed with paper that no one wants: map books, old encyclopedias, cookbooks, comic books, dressmaking patterns, sheet music, dated magazines. They’ll sit there gathering dust or... you can snap them up and turn them into extremely interesting wrapping paper!

Use your kid’s art

You know who else uses a lot of paper? Daycare centers and schools. Those massive sheets of paper painted in swirls of bright paint and crayon make perfect (and adorable) gift wrap. The bonus? You’ll have something to do with the art, instead of letting it pile up in a cupboard because it doesn’t seem right to just chuck it out. If you’d like to keep a record, just snap an image first. 

Hit up your local home-decorating shop 

Every season these places often throw out masses of wallpaper samples - they could be yours! 

Use nature 

Dried twigs, leaves, seashells, grasses and flowers add a pretty touch to wrapping - and they’re free and compostable. 

Make your own tags and cards

I’m 10/10 craftily challenged, so tags and cards have always been a problem for me. No matter how carefully I wield those scissors, I can never seem to cut a straight line, so my cards have always been… avant-garde. I have the solution, but it means buying something… sorry (unless you already own these of course, then you’re in luck!). Source a scalpel and a metal ruler - if you don’t have one on hand, ask friends & family or pop into an art supplies store. These, my friends, are the answer to your straight-line woes. With them, you can turn cereal boxes (or Ethique boxes!) into cute, personalized tags and cards. Just decorate with vivids, paint or bits of nature.  

DIY stamps

Once you have some festive stamps sorted, they’re a fast, easy way to turn plain paper into crafty wrap, tags or cards. You can buy them, of course, or they’re fairly easy to make, with things you have lying around the house. Here’s a good place to get started. 

I’m sure there are a million more ideas - we’d love to hear your eco-wrapping hacks here too!