Wrapping paper. The epitome of our single-use, throwaway culture. It is designed to be immediately discarded. Unlike take-out cutlery, plates and cups or paper towels and disposable diapers—items that at least help us accomplish vital tasks—wrapping paper is just for show. But trust me, I know wrapping paper is joyful! It can be fun to wrap gifts with care and pizazz and equally fun to tear into said gifts.
My first suggestion, therefore, is to replace store-bought wrapping paper with something a bit more eco-friendly. Why not reuse newsprint? I can assure you that most people do NOT care what is on the paper that covers their gifts—it’s what’s underneath that counts. Save newspapers and flyers and use them just like you would use wrapping paper. Add some ribbon (ideally that will be saved and used again next year) and your gifts are good to go. Along the same lines, save the brown packing paper you receive throughout the year with online orders. Your kids can even decorate the paper! If you don’t have any packing paper, buying a roll of brown paper is definitely lower impact than buying printed wrap.
If you think you and your recipients can get past the lack of “ripping” in your unwrapping exploits, then what I propose is 100% reusable and functional giftwrapping: Make the wrap part of the gift! This doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either. A couple of dollar-store ideas would be using festive pillow cases or tea towels, or reusable shopping bags. I wrapped my nephew’s Paw Patrol toy in the Paw Patrol t-shirt that was also part of his gift! If you get your entire family on board with reusable wrap, maybe you can even take your reusable wrapping home with you to use again the next year! Another benefit? The post-unwrapping cleanup is pretty easy when there’s nothing to throw away.
Here are three “make the wrapping part of the gift” alternatives to wrapping paper:
Bummis’ new Lumberjack print is on trend and festive, but not so seasonal that you wouldn’t want to keep using it in July. The three sizes will accommodate most of the items on your shopping list and really take the guesswork out of wrapping non-box-shaped items. The large Fabulous Wet Bag is like a jumbo Santa sack. I’ve noticed a lot of stores selling actual burlap-ish sacks for giftwrapping purposes. These are totally reusable, so I’m a fan. But I prefer using wet bags since you can use them for so many more purposes than just wrapping! Wet bags are obviously awesome for cloth diapering, but I use them for toting and organizing pretty much everything in our house. The small and medium wet bags are great for most toys, books and apparel. Place in bag. Zip up. Add some ribbon and a gift tag and place under the tree! You can also use the little handle to hang the wet bags like stockings.
Whether you want to use blankets scored for pennies at your local thrift store or go for luxury with something like this organic cotton swaddle blanket from Öko Creations, use the Japanese technique of Furoshiki to wrap items with no need for tape or ribbon (except for embellishment).
Here’s how I used the Öko blanket to wrap a rectangular box:
It’s easy and cheap to buy holiday-themed tea towels. It’s even cheaper and more fun to just buy a pack of white flour sack towels and go to town on them with some fabric markers! If your kids are crafty, they will love this activity. (Cub lost interest very quickly.) Grandparents will appreciate hanging these unique works of art in their kitchens. It’s a lot better than making Grandma a t-shirt she will likely wear only to bed or when she’s out of clean laundry. Once your towels are decorated and the colour is set (in the dryer), wrap gifts using Furoshiki!
How do you avoid the waste of wrapping paper?