Article Line Long1
Lifestyle

I’m Calling It – The Best Guilt-Free 2022 Holiday Trend That Has Been Around 3000 Years

I’ve been on a 3-year campaign against traditional wrapping paper. Here’s why: when we lived in the mountains, during lockdown, trash and recycling pickup was tricky. More often than not we had to load up, haul away, and pay to dump anything that didn’t fit into our bins. It’s an incredibly confronting exercise that forced us to look at what we produce – and packaging became enemy #1. Listen, a lot of packaging around the holidays is unavoidable (and recyclable), but it’s not just that – wrapping paper can be SO expensive, just to be ripped open, cleaned all up, and thrown away!! On Christmas morning you (we) end up dealing with garbage bags full of ripped-up paper all over your house and while it’s not the biggest deal it seems kinda nuts that we all just go along with this tradition of spending a lot of money to wrap up a ton of gifts that just get torn open and thrown away in ONE DAY!!! Sure, I want to create less waste (and some papers are recyclable), but I also just love common sense and this just doesn’t make sense to me. So this year I’m making a swap (and feel so passionately about it that I’m dedicating a whole Saturday post to it). Now, this is NOT new – It’s Japanese Furoshiki wrapping cloths and it’s been around for 3000 years and is such a lovely, beautiful way to give gifts. Let’s deep dive into how to take this tradition and integrate it into our holiday this year (and save money and waste).

I had seen these before obviously, but it wasn’t until I saw these wrapping cloths on Amber Interiors Etsy Creator Collab that I actually bought a bunch. I wrapped a few presents in them and they were so easy, so pretty and I was like, ‘”That’s it…this is the future of wrapping paper”. The cloths I bought came in a few different sizes, were square, thin but busy (to mask what is underneath). I think that is key – I tried doing this with thicker fabric like velvet and it didn’t work as well – thin-ish, floppy, and colorful/busy works the best.

You simply lay the box diagonal within the square and tie two ends together, double knot them, then pull the other two together (taught) and double knot those.

I shoved in some cedar cut from our yard and a simple tag and y’all I think it looks pretty dang cute. Now a few caveats:

  1. Yes, these can be an initial expensive investment. My goal isn’t to necessarily give these away but keep these “in the family” per se.
  2. I also bought a bunch of linen yardage (also not cheap, around $15/yard) and ripped them into squares. I like the frayed edge.
  3. Making them would be very, very easy if you aren’t into the ripped-edge look. It’s just a seam. So you could buy 4 yards of $7 seersucker, gingham, or plaid and make 10-12 of them.
  4. They don’t work for all presents (the bigger ones require substantial yardage), and some more odd shapes don’t work as well either. We are supplementing with craft paper (which I love) and reusable bags (craft paper or patterns).
  5. My goal is to have a stack of them that I keep with the other holiday decor, are pulled out once a year, and then put back when we store everything. I’ll grow my collection over the years. They are mostly for our own family, kids’ “internal” gifts if you will.
  6. For gifts that I am giving away (neighbors, colleagues, etc), I might splurge on pretty wrapping paper (Target has a great collection with small artists this year like this one) and act out my wrapping paper fantasies (I do love a good ribbon move). So this isn’t a full-on replacement, but a pretty supplement that I’m very excited about.
  7. Vintage or thrifted fabric is PERFECT for this. I’ll be adding to my collection and because I’m very picky aesthetically, I’ll likely curate them to look good together. I’m VERY excited about this potential.

Again, if you are crafty at all you can buy yardage of thin, colorful fabric (not too thin so you can see underneath) and make a bunch yourself (just squares!). But we wanted to round up some places that are selling online. If I were more entrepreneurial I wouldn’t have written this post and instead spent the time designing my own line of wrapping cloths – there is obviously a hole in the market.

1. Blue Checkered Furoshiki Wrapping Cloths | 2. Foundation Adults Fabric Gift Wrap Set | 3. Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth | 4. Linen Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth | 5. Plaid Furoshiki Fabric Gift Wrap | 6. Large Gift Wrap | 7. Reusable Cloth Wrap | 8. Blue Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth | 9. Green Checkered Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth

Again I want to give full credit to the original inspiration – we didn’t invent this. These are inspired by Japanese Furoshiki wrapping cloths. It’s such a beautiful and chic way to be earth-friendly, reduce waste, and save some money long term. It’s an initial investment that will absolutely pay off and mixed with white or natural craft paper I think will look so pretty. I’m excited to curate a few fabrics that will look good together (because yes, that stuff still makes my eyeballs happy).

Thanks for supporting this year’s campaign towards common sense gift-giving practices:) I’m obviously not perfect when it comes to waste (no one can be) but this is a pretty easy swap that I think simply looks really beautiful. I’ll be doing it as much as I can when it makes sense, and even better I’m going to start collecting vintage fabrics – We all have our pet peeves, this one is mine. Who is into it???

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

0 0 votes
Article Rating

WANT MORE OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM?

Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

68 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Katie
1 month ago

i made some bags with Christmas fabric that we use for the kiddos gifts and it great because I just pack them up with our Christmas decorations each year. They even have a specific one for Santa that they set out empty each year for him to fill. 6 christmases later they are still going strong. This year I expanded and made birthday bags. Each kid has a fabric that represents them and I can use them every year!

Susi
1 month ago
Reply to  Katie

I did this same thing! (Mine are shaped similar to pillow cases). I’ve also bought some drawstring bags that are easier to find now in stores. I’m excited to try some fabric squares! (I never thought of it before!) thanks for sharing the idea and all the images, Emily! I loved the tone and content of this article!

Millie
1 month ago

I love this, Emily! And seeing it look so pretty under your tree makes me think I should do it, too. Consider me influenced! 😉

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Millie

Em looks so serene and beautiful sitting on the stairs.

Beth
1 month ago

Awesome!!! Love this idea! My family uses the same gift nags every hear. We have the same hanukka and christmas gift bags that we’ve been using for 10 years and they still look great. We reuse tissue paper, too. Way less waste that wrapping paper, but this idea is even better!

Colleen
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth

Me too! And I like fabric ribbon because you can use it over and over again, and even steam out the wrinkles if need be.

Lush has been using fabric wrapping cloths for a while in their stores and I have some of those I’ve used a few times. I’ll definitely look into expanding my collection.

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Colleen

Colleen, I often find myself ironing ribbon to reuse. My collection is beyond what I use, so I need to pass some along in my Buy Nothing group soon.

Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth

We reuse gift bags and cloth ribbons endlessly- also gift tags! We have ribbons, bags, and tags that are 20+ years old in the “wrapping box.”

And anytime anyone gives me a gift (birthday, holiday, otherwise) I save the gift bag to reuse – sometimes if there’s a store logo on the front of the bag I’ll paper over it with a decorative shape.

Jenni
1 month ago

I love this idea! Another one that just came to mind was to use Turkish towels. I ordered directly from a Turkish seller on Etsy several a couple years ago and some of them were only about $6 each at the time. The larger ones would especially work for larger gifts.

hickenack
1 month ago

My version of this is to go to joann’s/Michaels/home goods and buy pretty boxes. Some of them close with magnets or an elastic clasp and are sturdy enough to be reused for years.

For a recent baby shower I bought a brown craft paper-y looking archive photo box and topped it with a pretty sprig of silk flowers (stem wrapped in floral tape).

Dena
1 month ago

I have a trunk full of vintage sheets, pillow cases, etc that I use for this and to make simple napkins, etc. Easy to pick them up at estate sales and so many lovely prints.
While you are at the estate sale there is usually a bunch of unused wrapping paper.
We reuse our tissue paper and save wrapping paper we receive if it’s really nice.

Jessie
1 month ago
Reply to  Dena

Wow this is genius. Sheets would probably be the perfect thickness for this, especially once they’ve been washed over and over, and an inexpensive sheet set even brand new is a lot cheaper per yard of fabric than buying fabric, let alone second hand. Plus, if you use this as a way to reuse sheets after yours get a little stained or get a hole in them (which you could cut around), they already match your decor most likely.

Dena
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessie

Exactly!! I’ve used old thin curtains too! So many cool patterns! I learned to sew from a friend who used vintage pillow cases and taught me to make a napkin and then I was on my own.

Bea
1 month ago
Reply to  Dena

I was thinking of doing exactly the same as I bought an Ikea bedding set that was too large and want to utilize the fabric which is a pretty pink ticking stripe. I thought perhaps a table cloth and the leftovers some of these furoshiki.
By the way, in Japan they use them not for gift giving but for wrapping your bento box / lunch box in to keep all the bits together. So there’s an addition use for these handy pieces of cloth.

Alissa
1 month ago

We definitely have Christmas gift bags that are at least 10 years old that float around between our family and my parents/sister. A few years ago I also bought a small and large set of fabric drawstring gift bags from Primary. They are so great and easy, and they’re super sturdy nylon (like their vests/puffers). The sets don’t seem to be available now, but you can purchase one-off bags as gift wrap when you order something. Highly recommend! For paper I use brown craft paper that I decorate with sharpies, just super simple snowmen or whatever, or giant initials for the recipient. I rarely use ribbon – though sometimes I’ll draw one!

1 month ago
Reply to  Alissa

I adore Primary and didn’t realize how lovely their gift bags would be – thank you for the heads up! Will definitely note for my next order!

Allison
1 month ago

If you like the look of craft paper, but don’t even want to recycle that, because it does take energy to do, burlap can give you the same look, is affordable, and can be reused year after year. If the weave of the burlap is loose, just double up the squares. My MIL and I do this and reuse our wired ribbon year after year for bows. It looks lovely.

LP
1 month ago

I was thinking of doing this with cloth napkins. Especially vintage when you find good ones but they’re not a set!

Erin
1 month ago

I’ve grown more conscious of the paper waste as well, although I always use recycled paper and make sure to recycle it Christmas Day. And I also always use real ribbon, which is reused every year. I’m truthfully kind of a snob about wrapping gifts properly, and sorry, don’t agree that it’s a waste because it’s only for “one day”… that’s true of every gift, no matter the occasion. But you’ve convinced me to give the cloths a trial run. My pet peeve is plastic. It’s an absolutely choking scourge on this planet. Something also impossible to avoid, especially in food packaging. But I do wish you, and other influencers, would stop reccing plastic products. The faux plant trend over the last few years has been particularly bad. But this time of year I become really aware of how hard it is to avoid, especially in toys. I’ve taken to google searches for wooden, or no plastic, and found some amazing and unique gifts and toys. Maileg is a particular favorite. But the toys the kids ask for, that they see on tv, are plastic, wrapped in more plastic, and I do end up buying at least some of them…… Read more »

Dena
1 month ago
Reply to  Erin

Maileg is so so cute!!!

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Dena

Yes, I love Maileg! I actually have the dollhouse on my wishlist for me. My husband actually knows not to get it, because I put it there for my inner child. We saw it in a gift shop and I fell in love, along with the adorable mouse dolls.

Sona
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

My sister bought a very similar dollhouse at IKEA for her Maileg mice that her granddaughter plays with. She ordered some wallpaper samples and wallpapered the interior of the doll house. It’s very cute!

Lindsay Kolderup
1 month ago

So inspired by all of you guys! And, Emily, those must be the farmhouse stairs in their new blue color? fantastic!

Elizabeth
1 month ago

This reminded me of when my kids were young – we had a red table cloth we used for the large sized gifts and a big bow that we saved and used every year.

Sarah
1 month ago

I save the fabric bags sheet sets come in and use those for gift bags for small items. For big items, you could prolly do thrifted pillow cases. We mostly do craft paper because my oldest loves to wrap.

1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah

Yes! Sheet bags have been saved over here as well!

Melinda
1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah

Not Christmas related but I do have a good reuse for fabric bags that sheets come in! I have about four or five of them and I aim to get to the gym at least four time a week. At the beginning of the week I put a full workout outfit in each one (from socks to leggings, undies, bra, top, sweatshirt.) That way when my alarm goes off at 5.40am for a 6am class all my stuff is ready to go and you only have to put everything together once a week.

KD
1 month ago

Such a helpful post. Here’s to more sustainable holidays ahead! (We also like fabric bags, which we make almost like pillow cases in various sizes, then tie with reusable ribbon like grosgrain or velvet.)

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  KD

I’ve actually made my own bags out of craft paper to fit specific things, by sort of wrapping a big square or rectangle object and leaving the top open.

Jen
1 month ago

I’m IN! Although I don’t have any wraps yet, I do have a bit of wrapping paper from estate sale… saved from the landfill to be used at least once! And I think I have some vintage fabric or a vintage tablecloth (a ‘cutter’ as they say, that is too damaged for it’s original purpose) that just might work for the DIY frayed edge version.

1 month ago

So lovely! And those stairs!!

Emi
1 month ago

This is so sweet. We sometimes use baby swaddles for this purpose! All year I’ve been saving and folding up all the brown craft paper that comes inside so many shipped boxes. We’re wrapping all our gifts in those and the kids (age 6) are drawing a portrait of the person who the gift is for – it’s hilarious and cute and I can’t wait to see everybody’s reactions on Christmas.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Emi

L♡ve this!

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Emi

Emi, I save paper and boxes and anything that can be used as wrap. I still have a collection of beautiful tissue paper. The tip for using swaddles is great, too. I have a bunch I’ve had saved for a long time, intending to make a patchwork blanket. Maybe I’ll pull them out for my wrap this year (although I have very little to wrap).

1 month ago
Reply to  Emi

OOOOH saving the packaging paper is genius!

Shannon
1 month ago

Ok I know this sounds Grinchy and off-topic but could someone please explain the chair on the landing to me? I don’t get it. To me it feels so silly, pointless and “try-hard,” which is the opposite of Emily’s vibe. What am I missing??

Jill
1 month ago
Reply to  Shannon
  1. It might be a nice place to enjoy the light from the window and read a book.
  2. It adds visual interest to an area that would otherwise be empty.
  3. It is a timeout chair for naughty guests.
  4. It was styled specifically for this shoot and is only temporary.
  5. Perfect is boring, let’s get weird?
pam
1 month ago
Reply to  Shannon

add in obstacle! I agree with you

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

#I.am.into.it!🎄

Cotton On Australia has them for AU$7 for 3. Yaaay! 🤗

Emily, good on you!!!!!💞

Interestingly, I had a birthday lunch today and I was surprised by the choices people made re: ‘wrapping’.
They know me well and have obvs been “influenced” for the good of the planet (I regularly discuss my two volunteer organisatiins for increasing suburban tree canopy and a Forest Aliiance group, legislating prote tion of old growth forests instead of woodchipping them for paper!). 🌳
Only 1 person wrapped with wrapping paper. The rest were re-used gift bags (an artist friend stuck a mini-artwork on the bag, over the label!), others wrapped in recycled brown paper, etc. Some weren’t wrapped at all.
I gave each person a small essential oil wrapped in a poem about friendship by Ray Bradbury and tied with a thread of raffia.
Walkin’ my talk.👍😊

Julie
1 month ago

Love

katie
1 month ago

chiming in with one of my favorite moves: wrapping a cookbook in a cute dishtowel! it often requires some deft ribbon work, but finish the bow with a cute wooden spoon or spatula and a gift tag and you’ve got a great, sustainably wrapped gift!

Debbie
1 month ago
Reply to  katie

Yes! Wrapping with a dish towel and spoons was my go-to for wedding shower gifts when I was in that period of my life and was going to 97 weddings a year. 😉 It looks so cute and sustainable too!

Emily
1 month ago

Every year I make a few re-useable fabric drawstring gift bags (I’m working on some this weekend!). I will probably never 100% stop using wrapping paper, but if I can reduce the amount we use, I call it a win. Plus its really fun to pick out a few fun Christmas fabrics each year to make the bags with.

Suzanne
1 month ago

What a great excuse to go vintage fabric shopping! I often find old tablecloths and napkins. For those who don’t have great used/vintage resources, fat quarters at the fabric stores often go on great sale. Joann has a bunch for $1.99 each, and they are 18”x21”. Not quite square and not finished, but an affordable way to start a collection. And if you don’t need them in the future, make a quilt. 😉

https://www.joann.com/fabric/cotton-fabric/precut-cotton-fabric/fabric-quarters/

They’d also look cute torn into strips to make rustic ribbon.

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Another thought I just had was to use old t-shirts cut into large squares. We used to get them for every camp my daughter attended. Often the backs aren’t printed on, so they’d provide a solid color. And if you really want to have fun, get some fabric paint and stamps and have the kids stamp on them. This would also be fun on the flour sack dishtowels. You’d be creating your own block print wrap, which is really on trend right now. Hmmm… I may have found a weekend craft to do. If I thought ahead, I’d already have ordered one of Molly Mahlon’s adorable kits (although, this can be done much cheaper as a potato print project).

https://mollymahon.com/collections/christmas-edit

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Molly Mahon! How’d that extra “l” get in there?

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I actually have a block printing kit that I have yet to do, and I realized it could be used to print on inexpensive muslin for holiday or everyday wrap. These type of kits are also at craft stores and online, with Speedball being one of the top brands. But again, it’s very similar to the potato printing of our youth.
https://crafter.com/video/2020-09_tiledblockprint/

Jen
1 month ago

For the last half dozen years of so, my go-to wrapping paper is a Baggu bag. They come in several sizes, become part of the gift and last forever. I use them for everything.

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Jen

I love Baggu bags. They are so lightweight and fold down small to carry around when shopping. What a great way to gift wrap!

Jennifer
1 month ago

Yes! We live in Hawaii where gift wrapping practices such as this are common year round. Hawaii is very environmentally conscious and people look for ways to reuse things in multiple ways – for example, a friend gave my son a birthday gift from the Lego store and used the cut up Lego store bag to wrap it in. It was obvious where the gift was from, but still didn’t spoil the gift as my son didn’t know exactly what was in it. When I was a kid, my godmother used the comic pages of the newspaper to wrap our gifts – we always were so excited to open her gifts!!

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Jennifer

The comics as wrapping is what we often did, too. It just reminded me that my mom also used newspaper, and since it wasn’t as colorful as comics, she’d tape pennies all over it. Bonus for the kids unwrapping the gift.

IreneL
1 month ago

Such great ideas! I typically use craft paper w grosgrain or velvet ribbon and/or decorate w twigs & pinecones that I collect – some (not all) I lightly spray paint gold or silver). But now after reading this post I need to step it up a notch and give fabric a try as well! And those blue stairs look so lovely!

Stacy
1 month ago

Love this! In Seattle we have the option to have teeny tiny garbage cans for city pickup, and my husband and I always joke that the neighbors with the very smallest ones are totally just flexing on the rest of us. I’m obviously aspiring to be that neighbor – think we can get one step closer here =)

Carrie
1 month ago

YES! Those $1 square scarves you find at Goodwill are great for this. LOVE THIS POST and thank you for reducing waste.

SARAH
1 month ago

Yeeeeeeees. Any excuse to go to the fabric store! … But yeah I will reuse them and not just consume more 😁 but honestly I do love just using Trader Joe’s bags for gift wrapping, with satin ribbon bows and then reusing the ribbon.

Kitty Sondern Snyder
1 month ago

That’s a great idea! I get depressed about all that I dispose of and how I don’t even know if it is really getting recycled or not.
I have a lot of fabric, too!
But what I HAVE DONE for several years, because
I’m also cheap, is I re-use my beautiful gift bags that I’ve collected over the years. I re-use the stuffed-in Tissue Paper, too! They still look pretty
and my kids are trained to fold and return them, or I just snatch them back from my Giftees before they can trash them.
It works great, no complaints!

Amy Elizabeth Jones
1 month ago

I was at a market last weekend and bought the most beautiful & colorful wraps by an artist local to my area https://www.jenniferplayford.com/collections/all
Such a gorgeous way to wrap a gift!

aquagirl809
1 month ago

I am definitely into it, Emily! Ever since my daughters were little (they are in their 40s now,) our tradition has been to recycle the colorful “funny papers” by wrapping our Christmas gifts in the comics. We also currently do this for our grandchildren. This way, the paper is recycled and reused, sometimes multiple times. We are all about sustainability! Thank you for addressing this important issue.

Molly
1 month ago

Not fabric, but when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s and wallpaper was really popular, my mom would wrap gifts with leftover paper. It was SO thick and never ripped (even with my brother and me hoping it “accidentally “ gave away a secret!) Now that it’s back, it’s another option.

1 month ago

What a great idea! We reuse gift bags, but I like this better

Katie
1 month ago

vintage scarfs can also be used. And if it is something you are giving away, particularly a kitchen themed gift, you could use a tea towel as part of the gift and the wrapping.

AmRad
1 month ago

Last year I bought canvas from the fabric store and used holiday stamps to print designs on it. The canvas has enough structure that you can wrap it around the present like traditional paper and tie it shut with a pretty bow! The canvas is thick enough you can’t see what’s underneath and cheap enough I can give it away! So far they’ve been a big hit 🙂

Lola
1 month ago

This past year I started using magazine pages to wrap gifts, they look beautiful and artsy. If it’s a larger box, I will lay out four pieces and then tape them on the inside, then wrap it. It’s not exactly paper free, but it at least gives a second use.

Heather
1 month ago

I absolutely love this idea. Thank you. I will be doing this for all my family’s gifts this year. and for some of my friends. I absolutely love the color of your stairs. Would you mind telling me what paint color you used for them? I would love to do this in my house as I was about to paint some floors white because downstairs the wood is so dark. I love your blog.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Heather
Cat
1 month ago

Coming late to the party here but…look around for your local(est) quilt shop, which specializes in patterned, cotton fabric. It’s not inexpensive, but all shops have a bargain table or bin; many sell scraps; all sell lengths of fabric cut to measure. Virtually all will have festive, holiday-themed fabrics starting in the late fall. BONUS: Ask about any local quilt guild and if the guild has fabric sales — typically a ‘garage-sale’ type event with donated fabrics from quilters’ stashes. These events are freakin’ awesome: fabric is cheap, upcycled, saved from landfill, and diverse!

Heather O’Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  Cat

Yes, fabric stores often sell sets of “fat quarters” (1/4 yard pieces of cotton fabric) in coordinating colors and patterns. These would be good for small gifts. Or ask a quilter if they are trying to downsize their fabric hoard stash.

Nicolette Moze
1 month ago

*start* collecting vintage fabrics!? Something tells me you have a great collection already 😉

Go To Top