That’s a Wrap: Green Wrapping Paper Alternatives

by | Dec 2020

Gifts wrapped in environmentally friendly wrapping paper.

Photos: Tate Carlson

It’s easier than you think to come up with green alternatives to traditional giftwrap and boxes.

Keeping a lid on refuse over the holidays takes extra and creative efforts with the increased volume of mailing boxes, packaging and giftwrap. It’s easier than you think to come up with green alternatives to traditional giftwrap and boxes.

  • Reusing gift or mailing boxes is a no brainer, but have you thought of giving a second life to food containers? Tip: Cereal boxes, especially ones adorned with holiday themes, are ideal packages for kids’ gifts.
  • Don’t toss out outgrown or no-longer-used holiday jammies or outfits. Wash and trim them down to reuse as wrapping for smaller items.
  • For gardening-theme gifts, tuck items inside a clay flower pot. Top it with the drain base, and festoon it with a holiday ribbon around the pot to secure the lid.
  • When giving cozy mittens/gloves/hats, wrap them up in a coordinating scarf.
  • Get the artists in your family to decorate paper grocery bags, and use them as wrapping paper. Tip: Decorate with holiday-themed riddles, poems, song lyrics or trivia.
  • Dish towels are cuter and more clever than ever. Use them to wrap up cooking and baking tools for your favorite home cook.
  • Speaking of cooking, how about filling a large pasta or stock pot with pasta and ingredients for your favorite homemade pasta sauce?
  • Tie repurposed cloth in a bow to keep it all together. Tip: Consider Marcella Hazen’s recipe. The butter will have to come later, but add in a bottle of red blend wine. A generous splash or two gives the sauce a deeper flavor, and the remaining wine is ready to serve at dinner.
  • If your fisherman’s tackle box or creel is getting a little too, well, fishy, buy a new one, and fill it with bobbers, fishing line, lures, a stringer and more. Tip: Don’t forget a little container of Bactine and bandages. It can get rough out there on the water or in the boat.
  • Remember maps? You know, the kind that were improperly refolded and tucked (jammed) into cars’ glove or side door compartments. If your maps have been replaced by phone apps, give them new life as wrapping paper, especially for travelers, who no doubt, are chomping at the bit to get driving, flying or however they get going! Tip: Travel cubes aren’t just a trend; they’re a necessity for anyone on the go. Fill them with travel-size goodies, and use the map to wrap. 
  • Who doesn’t love gift wrap with a purpose? Gather or print out coloring contest forms from local newspapers, businesses or towns. Wrap up a kid’s (or kid at heart’s) gift, and the material can be used later as an art project.
  • On a similar note, grab the sports section of your favorite newspaper (or magazine!) to use for any athlete’s perfect present. Tip: Fold the paper into an envelope for a gift card to a local sporting goods store.
Wise Wrap

The furoshiki method of wrapping items (gifts to groceries) is steeped in Japanese tradition. Use bandanas, bedsheets, cloth napkins, fabric scraps, tablecloths, tea towels and more to wrap gifts in a more economical and Earth-friendly way.

Furoshiki Method Cloth Wrapping Paper


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