Green Up Your Gift Wrap

Consider some alternatives to commercially-printed paper

Each year, part of Christmas gift-giving ends up in the garbage.  Despite our valiant efforts to live greener lives by reducing waste, paper gift wrap continues to be a significant feature of gift-giving.  With a bit of imagination this year, though, you can break the paper-wrap habit and have some creative fun at the same time.

Instead of gift wrap, experiment by making the covering an integral part of the gift.  Giving something cooking-related?  Wrap it in a kitchen towel.  Use a pillow sham to wrap a sheet set.  A t-shirt can serve as wrap for a gift of clothing.  Wrap automotive accessories in a chamois cloth.

The wrap need not correspond with the gift.  Double wrap a bottle of wine in a pair of printed socks.  Use a dressy scarf to wrap a book, or a placemat to conceal a box of chocolates.

Any soft material of suitable size can serve as a wrap: toques, scarves, beach towels, tablecloths.  Even cloth shopping bags or soft-sided coolers could wrap—and enhance—the gift inside.

No tape or ribbons are needed.  Secure the wrap by tying it up with repurposed material, like strips of plaid cloth from an old shirt or old (and cleaned) shoelaces.  Raid your craft or sewing materials for leftover lace ribbon, yarn, or other suitable scraps.  Re-purpose old strands of Christmas tree garland.  Even bungee cords or lanyards can serve dual purpose as ribbon and useful add-on gift.

Instead of store-bought bows, dress up your gift with an aromatic sprig of fresh-cut evergreen, or a stick of candy.  Or scrunch a scrap of cloth into a festive floret to simulate a bow.

Get the kids involved in creating a low-cost alternative to store-bought wrap.  Save the sheets of plain paper used as packing material in online shopping parcels.  Let the kids draw on images with crayons or have them use cookie-cutters dipped lightly in paint to stamp designs on the paper.  Festive images from old greeting cards can also be cut out and glued to the paper—this is best done after the gift has been wrapped.

No paper?  Open an empty cereal or cracker box (or any other suitably-sized and clean box) along its seam.  Re-fold the box with the plain side facing outward and tape the seam securely.  Apply designs as described above.  Remember to recycle the box after the gift has been opened.

Encourage others to follow your creative wrapping example.  Make your green wrapping strategy a family challenge and see what unique ideas people come up with.  Perhaps hold a vote for most innovative wrap.

And, of course, take photos of your creatively wrapped gifts to help inspire yourself and others next year.

After the holidays you’ll be pleased at how little waste your green wrapping strategy produced.  And you can begin to plan to for next year!