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Personal Feelings About Wrapping Paper + How To Wrap Presents More Sustainably, Affordably, And Still Stylish

We didn’t wrap presents growing up – and looking back I’m glad for it. My parents would hate me saying this publicly but they would often tape the Fred Meyers shopping bag shut and write a name on it with a sharpie. With six kids to shop/wrap for, I can’t imagine how laborious and expensive it might have been. They were wise. Sure that Christmas morning reveal wasn’t “Pinterest worthy” (are we still saying that?), but it made more sense for their lives, sanity, and wallet. I don’t want to totally decimate the wrapping paper industry right now or make ANYONE feel bad for their wrapping paper love, fetish, or addiction. But it’s increasingly not making sense to me either – both for sustainability reasons and cost. It’s very single use, often dramatically ripped open and thrown away, rarely recyclable, and for what? Minutes of viewing pleasure under the tree by children before their little monster hands can destroy it? And don’t get me started on the cost of non-bulk ribbon – sometimes there is only enough ribbon on a roll for one present – ONE and it’s like $7. NO. No. No. So here is what I’m doing this year.

Hack #1 – Newspaper As Wrapping Paper

photo by christine han for cup of jo | styling by linsey laidlaw | via cup of jo

We get the Sunday Times and while a lot of the news headlines or photos aren’t something you want on your kid’s presents, there are a lot of pages that can be used and I think it looks cool. So we’ve been collecting it all fall, and hoarding it to take down to the mountain house. Not only is it recyclable but it does add some nice texture and pattern underneath the tree. It costs nothing (if you are already getting it).

Hack #2 – Bulk Brown Craft Paper

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | styled by emily bowser | from: target’s holiday assortment Is here to make all our gatherings look and feel extra special this year

If you aren’t hoarding newspaper, then bulk craft paper is highly recyclable and super affordable. You’ve seen it for years in shoots for Martha Stewart, with pretty sprigs and bakers twine. Will the kids freak out about it? Nope. But they are more concerned with what’s inside, plus they’ll get used to it. IF you want something fancier, these are pretty cute, too. Elliot LOVES to help me wrap and I know that she won’t be as excited about the neutral, so I found green recyclable bulk paper. But also if you are bored and feeling crafty, plain craft paper is perfect for decorating (just don’t put anything on it that prevents it from being recyclable). Need some inspiration? Here you go:

On the far right is VERY cute handmade wrapping paper using potato stamps via a site called Coffee & Vanilla. I know my kids would love using food to create something really cool. Then in the middle, Molly from Almost Makes Perfect made some super cute options with different-sized paint brushes which I’m sure a lot of us have just laying around the house. Lastly, on the far right, Rachel from DIY in PDX decided that using ready-made stamps was the way to go which you can obviously use for many years. All awesome and pretty doable.

DIY queen, Brittni Mehlhoff of Paper and Stitch, went the paint route but instead of carving a potato or buying stamps, she just found items around her house to make really fun patterns.

These next two ideas are slightly more involved but could be really fun with kids or if you are a crafter. That bear idea via Chic Pursuit is pretty darn sweet and I know Birdie would have so much fun making it. Then look how awesome that recyclable star straw is from A Splash of Something. So many great ideas with a quick search.

Hack #3 – Bulk Recyclable and Reusable Gift Bags

Want to save even more time and never buy wrapping paper again? Go for reusable gift bags and for extra credit make sure that they are recyclable. Nothing new here to report, but I just want to remind myself and others that it’s ok to not individually wrap presents and to just throw them in a bag. Heck, you could use the newspaper as the tissue paper.

Recyclable Gifts Bags

I bought these bags because they are cute, simple, and most importantly recyclable if they get a little too messed up to use for another year.

Paper Bags | Drawstring Bags

But these paper bags are also super cute and I love these little drawstring guys because they can be used as produce bags, or used to store shoes, purses, whatever you want. AND they come in multiple sizes!

Left: Santa Sack | Right: Santa Sack

Jess found these and I thought they were a sweet idea. It’s a customizable “Santa Sack” that you can just reuse every year like a stocking (I don’t know why we didn’t do this but now that the kids are 6 and 8 – close to the age of truth, it might be too late. Pretty cute.

Hack #4 -Bulk Quality Ribbon, Bakers Twine, And String

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: my first “refined traditional” holiday look…target style

Left to Right: Red Grosgrain Ribbon | Striped Red Ribbon | Satin Red Ribbon

I LOVE this ribbon. I’m a ribbon hoarder from my Martha Stewart days. I have boxes of beautiful ribbons and after Christmas, I salvage what I can and keep them for the next year. I usually buy bulk ribbon (double-sided satin or grosgrain) at the flower market but you can get them online so easily these days. Quality ribbon like this becomes slightly more of an investment because the cheaper stuff doesn’t save well, plus buying this in bulk is still way more affordable than buying a small roll in a store. I collect white, red, black, plaids, and stripes in grosgrain or double-sided satin in a variety of widths then snatch them and throw them back into your ribbon box once undone. Just make sure you get at least 25 yards so it can amply wrap multiple presents. Bakers twine is an affordable sweet option (add a candy cane or a sprig of evergreen/eucalyptus) and heck, even yarn can look really cute.

Again, no judgment if you guys have a whole wrapping station room stocked and ready to go – don’t throw anything out, but if you/we want to reduce our pre and post-consumer waste this feels like a pretty easy way to do it while saving time, money, making our life easier and still looking like you care. Our kids might notice it at first, but a quick conversation about mother earth should solve that, plus obviously they are more focused on the likely non-sustainable “stuff” inside:) Listen, we aren’t going to be perfect and the holidays are a huge time of pre and post-consumer waste, so if there are obvious ways to conserve and make a better choice, then I figured it was worth talking about. End of rant 🙂 xx

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: How We Decked Our Halls for Christmas


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93 thoughts on “Personal Feelings About Wrapping Paper + How To Wrap Presents More Sustainably, Affordably, And Still Stylish

  1. The oversize pages of my Stendig wall calendar make a highly satisfying b/w graphic gift wrap, as do that classic standby, the unprinted inside of a brown paper grocery bag. I also keep a stash of plain kraft paper boxes that I use without further wrapping, and once they’ve been opened, I scoop them up and tuck them away for use next year. Once I made up my mind to find them, I found that looking for alternative gift wrap solutions becomes a full time fascination and the challenge is delightfully satisfying.

    1. I’m another devoted Stendig calendar wrapper – the pages are huge and the paper is so thick it can be folded into envelopes or bags or whatever.
      I bought some of those Santa sacks for my little cousins. They’ve been in use for 6 years now.
      Back when we could travel internationally, I’d pick up re-usable grocery bags from different countries, use them for packing purchases in my suitcase and then re-purpose them as gift bags.

  2. For smaller items, I wrap gifts in a pretty dish towel or vintage scarf in a furoshiki style. You can google “how to furoshiki” videos for wrapping instructions.

    1. Great idea! I have also found very inexpensive Turkish dish towels on Etsy that would be perfect for this!

    2. Each member of our household has a stack of three or four large squares (3/4 to 1 yard each) of Christmas print fabric that we use to wrap their gifts in each year using furoshiki style wrapping.

  3. My family always cut out the reusable chunks of wrapping paper and had some cute printed boxes. I also sometimes wrap with fabric.

  4. Lovely ideas!! I had a friend who would always gift presents wrapped in newspaper and can confirm that it can look really cool plus it can be fun to pick out interesting looking pages to wrap! At my home we we still use wrapping paper but never rip it and instead carefully open them and then keep it for next year (along with any ribbons). The paper will of course get damaged over time and at some point some scrap may just become too damaged or small to keep and we definitely occasionally buy new wrapping paper. However we also still have some wrapping paper that I remember from my childhood (over 20 years ago) and its fun to pick out the best fitting scraps for your pieces each year 🙂 Though in the future when our current stock starts dwindling it would definitely make sense to switch to reusing paper that eventually, after it has been reused as much as possible, can also much more easily be recycled!

    1. Ditto to this! People in my family have been known to pull out an x-acto knife to open gifts without ripping the paper! I keep it in a box an rarely have to pull from the roll because I’ll find the perfect piece to reuse. I increasingly use fabric bags and I will definitely only ever buy recyclable paper if I ever need to buy more.

  5. When my kids were little and attending birthday parties all the time, I’d roll out the craft paper for them to decorate and wrap the present with that. Fun for kids, and easy because you’re not buying new wrappings for each event.

  6. My husband is an architect so he brings home huge drawing sets (not blueprints, I don’t even think they use blueprints anymore, just computer printouts) the office was going to recycle. Our kids draw on the backs of them and we also use them to wrap presents.

    For presents to give away, we often use paper the kids have drawn or painted on.

    I wrap things in scrap fabric if I know the person will enjoy/use the fabric. You can tie the fabric on bento box style.

    We use brown paper grocery bags if we have them, just cut them open and use the backsides.

    We also save whatever gift bags we receive presents in and reuse them. My mom has had gift bags (and tissue paper!) that she has been reusing for years.

    Recently we have received presents from a couple of different people in reusable tote bags. The bags were cute, I think people just end up with so many of these, so this is a good destiny for your extras.

  7. I started keeping a little gift area earlier this year (I think inspired by a blog post here) and started saving little things there to use as wrapping items. So for example, if we receive a little bag or nice paper from a store or online purchase, I just stick it in there. Also, I save all my used candle containers in there and hope to clean them out and use those as gift containers! A pretty glass container would be a fun gift container. I also have some dried flowers from Trader Joe’s that’s we had earlier in the year. So I have a variety of little containers and paper in there and then just pick out somethings when we need to wrap a gift. It’s fun, eco friendly, and basically free! I’m excited to grow it over time too.

  8. Yes! 100% to this. I have always hated the wrapping paper waste. I usually use gift bags for all gifts (all gift bags that have been given to me over the year – so i’m basically just reusing them over and over again because i can’t justify paying for new ones). And when i get gifts wrapped in wrapping paper, i literally un wrap it delicately and then fold and reuse the wrapping paper if i need to wrap a gift. same with tissue paper. i have a box of tissue paper that i’ve saved from gifts given to me and folded for reuse. it all just takes a little extra time, but is extremely worth it.
    I love the look of newspaper for wrapping paper! i’ve seen that a lot of times and it looks so nice, especially with a colorful ribbon.
    i LOVE the Chic Pursuit bear idea.

    I’m glad you’re doing more posts on sustainability!

  9. Yes to this post! Save your sanity, waste less whenever possible. We re-use gift bags: easy to wrap, smarten up with fresh recycled tissue paper, and look great under tree. We use newspaper for Santa gifts. Apologies to the wrap industry, but it has made a busy season a little easier.

  10. I have so many gift bags that I want to reuse but they are UGLY! How do you upcycle ugly gift bags so you can reuse them?

    1. We had ugly gift bags for years! I think I was finally able to throw them out guilt-free when they had been used so much they had those white creases and small tears on them.

    2. We had a garage sale this summer, and I put all of my ugly gift bags on a “free” table, and they were all gone within the hour. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure! I’m also on a local freecycle Facebook page, and get rid of lots of stuff that way. That way I know it’s going to someone who’s going to use it, instead of donating it and never knowing where it ends up.

    3. I’m thinking I’ll purge mine this year and I know my Buy Nothing community will be there to help give them a new home!

    4. I set out gift bags, with stickers and pics and glue sticks, and the kids in the family go at them. Then they get used for gifting within the extended family.

  11. Christmas Eve at grandmas – even as kids we very carefully unwrapped the gifts & proudly handed the paper and bows back to her to use again 🙂
    Don’t forget the comic section (do they still have those?) – makes great wrapping paper.
    Me – I’ve gravitated to reusable gift bags, right along the lines of grandma! But I do love me a fun, stamped, wrapped gift.

    1. My German grandma would also save the paper and bows from holidays and birthdays :0) We also would save the Christmas cards people sent from the previous year, and use the front cover of the cards to make gift tags. I used to enjoy sorting through the cards to find the right subject for each person I was wrapping for. Nowadays people are not sending cards much anymore, or they are all the family photo cards, so it doesn’t really work like it used to.

      1. It must be a German thing – my mom is German and a whiz at wrapping gifts with NO tape, just folding and strategic tying of a ribbon. She uses paper over and over and over. This past year she even found a scrap of wallpaper and used that!

      2. I know it’s going to be an extremely unpopular opinion and will probably get me banned, but I LOATHE the family photo cards, which are all we receive these days. I suppose they reflect our ‘look at me’ culture, but I miss the cards with trees, and Santa, and snowmen (women), and angels. They used to be about the spirit of the season, not a Facebook update. And in the age of Facebook and Instagram, I don’t get the same thrill about seeing the photos. And they are sooooo much effort, a Herculean task usually done by women, as is most of the holiday tasks, adding to holiday stress. I do send a few (not the 100 we used to do… also more sustainable) actual Christmas cards to older relatives and remote friends who ‘don’t do Facebook,’ and tuck in the family Christmas photo. Making the season about them and not just our family makes the holiday more meaningful.

  12. I have been slowly switching over to home made cloth bags. I buy Christmas-y fabric after Christmas to renew my stash ( some are given away with gifts) Extremely simple to make. Fold a long piece of fabric and sew up the open side to form a tube. Turn it sideways and sew across it starting at one end, then at intervals lang enough to hold your gifts. Finally, use pinking shears to cut across underneath the stitching, so one end is stitched, one is pinked. I mostly use reuseable ribbon to just tie it shut. You can also make or buy furoshiki type wrappings.

  13. I am a wrapping paper/bags/ tissue paper hoarder! I vividly remember my husband laughing at me after our first son’s baby shower for spending an inordinate amount of time flattening and folding all the tissue paper we received. Well he has eaten his words over the years because I don’t think we have bought bags or tissue paper since. With each passing birthday/ holiday we save what we get and use it again. There are a million little ways we can all do more but this is a small area of my life where I’ve made great strides.

    1. I’m much too lazy to try to flatten and store used tissue paper. Instead as soon as I open the gift, I crumple the tissue up in a ball and then uncrumple it. It ends up being evenly creased all over and I think it looks more intentional than used tissue that’s just creased in a few places.

    2. Yes!!!!! Same here! Married for 13 years and have 2 kids 9 and 11. I still have gift bags and tissue paper from my wedding shower, baby shower, and every birthday and holiday since. I haven’t had to buy that stuff yet! And yes, I too am that person that collects all the tissue paper after gifting and folds it up for reuse. Yay us!

  14. Aim for zero wrapping paper here because we now have a collection of beautiful gift boxes that we reuse every year. Lots of the boxes are Sugar Paper and Spritz from Target. The Sugar Paper boxes are much higher quality. A few are from Hallmark and two sets of nesting boxes from Michaels. Also have coordinating wired ribbon for each box we reuse. I love it because I loathe wrapping presents.

    1. I also love the Sugar Paper boxes – they’re beautiful and high quality, and they make wrapping a breeze (I keep last year’s tissue in the box, so it’s just a matter of picking a ribbon). I expect to be using them for many years to come.

  15. Hi! Love all these ideas. We’ve also used old maps as they have gone obsolete (almost) and we have so many. They make beautiful wrapping. Happy holidays! Nancee

  16. Thanks for the cute ideas. Esp love the ones that use what you’ve got around the house. If only bloggers could stop linking to Amazon. We have got to kick our awfully wasteful Bezos habit. No amount of ‘sustainable’ wrapping can neutralize the waste of Amazon packaging and freight. I get that this is how bloggers make money, but it’s exactly why I can’t take sustainability posts like this seriously. It’s so American to encourage people to buy more things to be greener.

  17. This is a great post! When I go to estate sales I always check out the wrapping paper and buy if it’s good! Can usually find lots of ribbon, ric rac and even cards. My daughter makes her own cards when she goes to birthday parties. So much more personal and those are quite wasteful too.

  18. Just my 2 cents, but at my house, I finally caved and returned to using ordinary wrapping paper, bought either in bulk or at Target during the holidays, both of which are affordable options. Why? In my particular area, all the paper recycling is just burned (don’t come at me, this is how my local government decides things will be done), so I can indeed just chuck it in with recycling, and this route takes less space for me both to store the wrapping supplies themselves, and the finished presents. Gift bags take up a lot of space to store, rarely look fresh after one use, tend to be too small for whatever I’m gifting (usually children’s toys), and don’t compress well if you’re trying to hide a family’s worth of presents in a closet (they slide down like an avalanche). I do love fabric reusable gift sacks, and have a few. About wrapping in newspaper, I’d be hard-pressed to find a physical newspaper these days. Craft paper looks great but the stiffness of the paper takes all the joy out of wrapping presents for me. One low-cost option I use that I don’t see above is using washi tape to make gift tags/labels. It’s cheap and fast.

    1. Gift bags should fold flat (it’s the way they’re generally stored before sale anyway). I like them for ease of reuse and ease of storage – much easier for me to store a few flat bags in various sizes as opposed to long rolls of paper.

    2. Thanks for this perspective. I think people would be shocked at the fact that a lot of the “recycling” that we separate never gets recycled; rather burned or landfilled. So I think a reasonable goal is to buy products that will eventually break down if they are landfilled, meaning NO plastics…OR reuse products/things as discussed in this post and comments. I reuse gift bags. Not everyone has the room to store/save gift wrap items, but even if they are buying wrapping paper every year and throwing it out, they are still contributing in their own way as they are living in smaller residences which use less fossil fuels to heat/cool/decorate. The focus really needs to be on citizens to demand recycling from municipalities and recyclable products from the manufacturers.

  19. I know this is controversial, but Santa doesn’t wrap gifts in our family. Eco friendly and EASY! 🙂
    Also, holiday patterned washi tape dresses up craft paper nicely, and is biodegradable.

    1. Santa doesn’t wrap at our house, either! It doesn’t actually save me much wrapping (Santa brings one gift, so the others are from us and wrapped), but it saves me from having to keep a separate, secret stash of wrapping supplies. I love the look of it on Christmas morning, too!

    2. Not at our house either. And he never wrapped them when I was growing up. Of course, my dad stayed up late and unboxed and assembled everything so it was ready to play with when we first got up. I don’t do that.

  20. I sometimes use whole food or trader joes paper bags. Just cut open in to a square and turn inside out. Voila… free craft brown craft paper.

    I also make maps for a living ( and sometimes I have to print them for people. I save the maps that have typos, etc and use those to wrap gifts as well.

    1. This is what we do too! It only is it free, but you don’t have to store it either. I usually spend less than 1 minute putting a striped pattern on with a marker and am good to go! Hard to manage at Christmas (I don’t store large #s of bags…), but how we wrap gifts all year long!

  21. I work in a field where there are always old architectural or engineering drawings around the office to be recycled. I’ve been using them as wrapping paper for years now and its great! The “precut” sheets are honestly so much easier.

  22. We’ve used newspaper in our house since I was a kid. My mom is also brilliant And will get old maps and sheet music from thrift stores which looks extra cute!

  23. My mother-in-law makes all the grandkids Christmas pillowcases and puts their presents inside. They love this tradition. I just found and bought a small box of upcycled saris that come with twine and scissors to use as beautiful wrapping this year! My kids are very excited about it as well, although those gifts will have to be from mom and dad!

  24. Love this! I started making furoshiki wrapping cloths out of Christmas fabric I like and I love the idea of using it year after year. Plus it stores in a box way better than long tubes of wrapping paper!

    1. This is what we do too! Each person in the house picks their own fabric so no need for gift tags at home either – you know it’s your gift by the wrapping.

  25. I’m so pleased to read these ideas! 🙂

    Another recyclable choice is butcher’s paper.

    I use raffia instead of ribbon, mostly. I save ribbon and it it gets bably rumpled, it’s quick n easy to iron it flat and fresh again,

    👀 Please be clear that most printed Christmas gift bags are NOT RECYCLABLE, because they’re PLASTIC-COATED!
    Only uncoated paper bags can be recycled.

    I love some ofthesevideas and that little briwn paper bear is delightful!

    9ne major step in the right direction! 🤗

  26. I think the wrapped presents are part of the magic and anticipation of Christmas! Or any gift-giving event. But I never bought foil paper (which couldn’t go into recycle) and have always saved and reused paper, ribbon and tags, sometimes using the same tags for years. My mom used to use newspaper because she couldn’t afford wrapping paper. I would always rush over to Crate and Barrel the morning after Christmas to buy the paper and ribbon and tags half-price. I can certainly understand parents not needing the stress and not having time to wrap like a hundred presents, though! But I enjoy it, myself. It’s part of the holiday experience for me. I once wrapped presents for a charity event and have helped relatives by wrapping their presents!

    The issue of expense may be real for many people, but buying stamps, kraft paper, and even twine also costs money and takes time.

  27. One of my kids wrapped a present for their grandparent using newspaper. We realized when we gave it that they used the obituaries!

  28. I may be wrong, but I think you have to remember to remove all tape if you want craft paper/newspaper, any typically recyclable papers to still be recyclable.
    I’ve been a ribbon/tissue paper/gift wrap hoarder like my mom my whole adult life. Never hardly ever have to buy new and almost always have enough from years prior to wrap gifts throughout the year for bdays etc… If you take a moment after the excitement to remove tape and fold tissue/paper and coil ribbon it’s pretty hard to tell you’re reusing from year to year 🙂 Obviously not every single sheet can be re-used, but most tissue paper can and higher quality/thicker papers.

  29. In our family, the kids get 4 under-the-tree santa gifts every year (need, want, wear, read). Since this is a fixed amount, I bought good quality lidded cardboard boxes and wrapped them well, giving each kiddo their own pattern. Xmas eve, the kids set the boxes out, and the boxes magically get filled. Afterwards, the boxes get put away for next year. Sure, not all gifts fit beautifully inside the boxes, but it’s still fun to see the top perching on something that doesn’t quite fit.

  30. I thrift all my ribbon for Christmas and birthdays and I’ve never paid more than $1 for a big roll. I think that’s a perfectly fine way to 1) keep something out of the landfill and 2) still be very traditionally “Christmas!”. Estate sale ALWAYS have ribbon (what grandma do you know doesn’t have a giant stash? it makes sense).

  31. So many great ideas! I mainly re-use gift bags, but I do love to cut up Christmas cards and re-use as name tags and homemade book marks. Like another reader commented, I’ve also wrapped gifts in construction drawings, either side looks great!

  32. I do *love* a well wrapped gift, so I put my conservation elsewhere. However, I’m also a reusable supply hoarder. My kids are well trained to give me all their bows and tissue, haha. I definitely have rolls of paper saved from large gifts, to my husband’s mortification. I also favor real ribbon. It looks better AND is reusable.

    My mom and one sister-in-law are similarly minded, and we have ‘exchanged’ some items for years!

  33. I’m all for sustainability, but I don’t think wrapping paper is quite the issue in comparison to the clothing industry and used clothing waste. If you are truly for sustainability, perhaps discontinue the clothing/shoe/boot haul and try on sessions that encourage others to purchase such items.

  34. I started a tradition when my first grandchild was born. I print pictures of each gift recipient that was taken in the past year and use that as the gift label. Once the gift is opened, all the pics are collected and I have a a couple small albums for my sons and daughter-in-laws, my mom and father-in-law to choose as many of the pictures as they want to put in their album to take home. I have extras to add to the albums on hand as well.
    This began when my grandson wanted to be Santa and pass out the gifts but couldn’t read yet so the pictures are now our tradition. I am mindful to take individual pics through out the year and organize them into individual files on my laptop so the print process is easy.

  35. I save all salvageable wrapping paper, tissue paper, brown craft paper, ribbons, etc and always reuse. This year we’re doing fewer presents and I am very proud that all of mine are wrapped in reused materials, many of which still have plenty of life ahead of them (and I think they look pretty cute). Next year I may invest in some new high quality paper and ribbon to add into the mix but will continue to keep new/single use to a bare minimum

  36. Love this. Plus, these ideas can be reused for ANY holiday (birthday, anniversary, just because, etc). I also really like the pretty Target gift boxes that aren’t just normal thin shirt gift boxes. A little more expensive (about the price of a roll of gift wrap), but last quite a while. Some I’ve had for maybe 5-6+ years and they get used for birthdays and Christmases (or they get passed around among the family), and look pretty on a shelf as decor too. Thanks for sharing this. Even beyond sustainability, it can feel like a total waste of money.

  37. I have tried all these ideas over the years… potato prints, newspapers, string and reusing paper, gift bags and ribbons. They all work great, and I seldom purchase new wrapping paper. Being a graphic designer married to an architect, there is always an abundance of paper in my home, so using it as wrapping paper is an obvious choice. If anyone is looking for stylish gift tags to top off your lovely gifts, I sell sets on Etsy, which all come in recyclable packaging.

  38. My family uses bags and tissue paper that my In Laws have purchased through the years. After presents are open we fold the tissue and bags to store them for next year. I’ve wrapped empty package boxes with wrapping paper so my tree doesn’t look sad before there are presents to put under the tree. It gives me the happy feeling without needing to by wrapping paper every single year.

  39. I just wrap my family’s presents in my decorative scarves, furoshiki-style. That way, they get the fun of opening a present, and they know by now to just hand the scarf back to me once it’s opened. No waste, nothing extra purchased, nothing extra needing to be stored.

  40. I keep an eye out for gift wrap at thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales! I’ve found some awesome Christmas wrapping paper in the middle of summer for a screaming deal!

  41. We use the large sacks like you showed for the grandkids- good at holding large, awkward shaped gifts. I also reuse gift bags – whether I brought them or received them. 😊 And a gift store near me sells heavy non-paper “tissue”; after use, I iron on low setting and it looks like new and always looks much nicer than regular tissue paper.

  42. I buy reusable gift bags (TJ Maxx has big ones for $1). They can hold lots of presents and be reused for so many things. While I love a good wrap job to look at, in reality, it’s just a waste of resources.

  43. In our family Santa doesn’t wrap! It’s amazing to wake up to gifts spilling out from under the tree in a wave of fun!

  44. This year I sewed two dozen fabric drawstring bags of various sizes. It took me a year to collect various red and white fabrics from my local buy nothing group and I used some sheets that had worn out and got holes for the lining. Hoarded leftover ribbons for the drawstring so you can just put the gift in the bag, pull it shut and tie a pretty bow and done! My mom made bags like these when I was maybe five out of a variety of Christmas print cotton fabrics and they are still being used now over 30 years later. I stuck to red and white stripes and polka dots because I was lucky enough to get a bunch of those but I think I will make some this year in other fun fabrics for birthdays and other throughout the year gifts because they are so much fun. If you have basic sewing skills (a straight seam is all that’s needed) this could actually be a really easy sewing project. I found a lot of tutorials on youtube and it took me a few weeks of a little bit each naptime to make my stack of fabric gift bags.

  45. I am one of the guilty people who loves buying new rolls of wrapping paper every year and taking every chance I can get to wrap presents… I didn’t grow up on it at all, in fact my parents still don’t wrap presents period, they just hand them over. But to me it’s like buying someone a knicknack that will sit on the coffee table as “styling” and otherwise be useless, sometimes you have to do things for the beauty of it.

    I did have one reuse idea though, tell me if it’s crazy… once I’m in my own house next year and have the storage space, I’m planning to wrap some empty gift boxes in super fancy ways, with all the different wrapping papers I’ve collected over the years, and put them under the tree. And then, just save and bring them out again next year, like ornaments. I don’t have (or plan to have) kids, so it’s not like presents for me and my husband would fill up the tree space anyway.

  46. I appreciate this post so much! Wrapping is so wasteful. I am using up the remainder of my existing wrapping paper and have no plans to buy more. I bought a large canvas Santa bag for Christmas, and decorated large canvas bags for Eid. If I need more, will go back to Kraft paper. Thank you for the reminder to be responsible and the inspiration.

  47. Merry Christmas Emily and Co,
    I’ve followed this blog for a good long time and have always enjoyed the pretty things and easy going vibe you’ve cultivated, it’s been one of the few blogs I’ve kept up with as the last decade slunk past. But I think I’m done now, 20+ link ups on what to buy for Christmas and then a scolding on wrapping paper. This coming from someone who is gutting a perfectly good home, ahem, second home, to suit a lifestyle whim. I wish you all the best, but you’ve jumped the shark.

    1. I thought she did a good job specifically NOT scolding anyone – just sharing some ideas she’d come up with in her own personal efforts. But given that you’re calling the farm house when they bought it a “perfectly good home” (???), I’m not sure you read the blog that closely. Wishing you the best, and hoping you find the satisfaction you’re looking for elsewhere!

  48. The reusable fabric gift bags are usually the best part of any gifts we get shipped directly from Amazon by far-away family members. I plan to use them for decades to come. Not ideal, I know, but it’s a tiny silver lining. Where I grew up, wrapping paper did not exist (yet), and my Mom would sew pretty fabric bags, or newspaper would be used for creative wrapping. I have such fond memories of this, I might well carve out some time to sew a few bags from scraps myself!

  49. I loved this post Emily. Thank you! It inspired me for next year and had many great alternatives. I cannot thank you enough.

  50. I have been reusing gift bags for years now. The family laughed at me when I started this but they since have started doing the same. lol

  51. Mum used to buy beautiful wrapping paper, or even posters that she loved. No ripping open presents was allowed, and she would iron the paper and put it away for another use.

  52. I reuse packaging that come IN, a touch of spray-ain’t ( or not) on bubble wrap, I know smallish plastic bags and snip outer edges to make snowballs . cut out holiday pics taped on boxes, magazines have great ones.I use party favor bags for stockings.( from goodwill, but a real timesaver.. and a natural touch is always beautiful, pinecones and greens on w a rubber band, , pretty leaves/flowers. happy recycled holidays!

  53. Two years ago my great grandma, born in the great depression, used reusable shopping bags as gift bags. She picked pretty, sturdy ones, not just ones that had a store logo on them, and under the tree they just looked like normal gift bags. She mentioned that most of them were as cheap or cheaper than the holiday themed gift bags (reusable shopping bags are often no more than a few dollars, and gift bags can easily cost at least that much) and she loved that they could be reused so many more times! Some of the family members joked about this latest example of her extreme frugality behind her back (she’s known for gifting things from around her house that she doesn’t want anymore and never throwing anything out) but I thought it was a pretty genius idea!

  54. All year long I save the brown Kraft paper or any tissue paper that comes in packages and use that to wrap gifts. I let the kids draw or sticker on it for a personalized experience.

  55. I’m with you! I love wrapping gifts but troubled by all the non recyclable gift wrap! I’ve been reusing nice ribbons and gift boxes for many years, and after last Christmas I made a commitment to switch to fabric wrapping. This year I invested in some really pretty plaid forishiki clothes from Williams Sonoma and I bough some festive quilting cotton at Joann. I discovered I couldn’t buy/make all in one year, so this year gifts are half fabric half paper. Next year I hope they’re almost all fabric I can fold away and use for many years. They look just as festive under the tree!

  56. Great ideas. My grandparents wrapped all of our presents in the comics and I forgot how much I loved it.

    Normally, we do the brown craft paper that the kids color on. We still got separate paper from Santa this year, but next we’ll try something else – the comics maybe.

    I bought 7×10 inch cloth bags a few years ago and have reused them for all smaller gifts. They’re so easy! Last year I started cloth wrapping and it’s my new favorite. I used old but clean thin cloth napkins we had and they’re perfect for so many awkward things. I need to keep looking for bigger pieces of fabric that are thin enough to tie and fold.

    But the biggest win for us has been switching tape from plastic to this compostable Kraft tape from the Package Free Shop. It’s great and best of all any paper it’s on as long as it’s like above, can be recycled!

  57. This year I bought all vintage wrapping paper from local thrift stores: 1980s Precious Moments, florals and Care Bears. I tied them with vintage fabric ribbons. For tags, I used vintage playing cards, which cost .50 for a deck.
    Unique, fun and eco friendly.

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