4 creative and sustainable gift wrapping ideas

in christmas

Gift wrapping is something I really care about.
To me, a beautifully wrapped gift is a sign of extra care and thought, that makes receiving a gift even more enjoyable.

Sadly though, traditional gift wrapping is one of the top sources of waste during Christmas holidays. And only a small portion of the wrapping paper, bows and ribbons we use can be recycled!
(As a quick test, try crumpling the paper in your hands; if it crumples it is "proper paper" and can be recycled!)

The challenge for an eco-friendly Christmas is then finding alternative ways to wrap gifts that cut on waste without cutting on the joy of giving and receiving beautifully wrapped presents.

Below are 4 easy techniques I’ve tried myself!


Wrapping gifts in fabric is common in Japanese culture. In fact, Furoshiki (wrapping cloth) is commonly used to wrap lunch-on-the-go and other everyday objects.

There exist many fabric folding techniques, but here I’ve gone easy.
I've taken a square scarf and put my gift in the centre. Then I've gathered the four ends together, making sure the fabric was wrapped neatly around the gift. I've tied the ends together with a string and added a little ornament at the base (but a napkin ring would look great too!) Adjusting the ends so that they fall beautifully is the final step to this beautiful gift wrapping technique.


  • Old clothes (whose fabric is still in good condition)
  • Scarves, fabric napkins
  • Table cloths for bigger gifts
  • Pillowcases
Gift wrapped into a scarf as an example of sustainable gift wrapping.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign


Putting presents inside a box or a jar is another zero-waste wrapping method. A little bow and the gift is ready to be given.
To go one step further, you can choose a container that matches the colour scheme of the receiver's home. I would really appreciate this extra detail!


  • Cookie/coffee jars
  • Jewellery boxes
  • Pouches
  • Storage boxes
Gift contained into a white and gold patterned jar as an example of sustainable gift wrapping.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign

What I love about these two methods is that the wrapping becomes part of the gift itself, and can then be used for its “normal use” or reused as wrapping.
Also, I’ve intentionally used fabric strings and I’ve cut long pieces that – once the gift is unwrapped – can be reused as décor or become a choker necklace, a bracelet or…you name it!

Regular paper

Who doesn’t have paper lying around? That can become wrapping paper too!
Here, I have started with some standard white paper and wrapped my gift as an envelope. Then, I've tied it with a fabric black string and added some stars, that I've cut out of an old piece of wrapping paper I had kept from last year. And voilà!


  • Letters. I still receive tons of ads via mail and they’re often printed on one side only. Painting the written side in black could give those sheets a second life in the form of a lovely two-coloured wrapping paper!
  • Brown paper
  • Pages of magazines. Best if it’s an article (or even an ad) that could be interesting for the receiver of the gift!
  • Paper grocery bags. You can cover the logo by painting it or sticking something over it (like a huge “Merry Christmas” lettering).
Gift wrapped in ordinary white paper and decorated with a ribbon and golden paper stars as an example of sustainable gift wrapping.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign

Repurposed Containers

For this idea, I’ve started with a box that used to contain a body lotion & shower gel set. I had kept the box knowing I could have done something with it…and here comes the occasion!
In this case the box looked cute already, but if it didn’t, I would have painted it or covered it with a nicer paper.
To finish this wrapping, I’ve added my black string and some cardboard shapes. I've tried two different alternatives and I like them both!


  • Shoeboxes
  • Appliances boxes (to repurpose only after the warranty has expired!)
  • Beautiful packaging
Gift wrapped in a reused box decorated with paper snowflakes as an example of sustainable gift wrapping.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Gift wrapped in a reused box decorated with paper snowflake and a Christmas tree.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credits: DforDesign

It’s important to mention that I didn't buy anything to put these gift wrapping ideas together. And this is exactly the point! Walking around your home, I'm sure you'll also find something you can use or reuse to wrap your gifts!
And when you start getting into zero-waste gift wrapping, you can collect interesting containers and papers all year long to be ready for Christmas time!

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