Sustainable gift wrapping
Green Living,  Holidays & Gifts

How to Gift Wrap Sustainably

It amazes me the amount of waste that can be generated from opening gifts.  Birthday parties, baby showers, and Christmas morning all share one thing in common:  an adult hovering over the party and snatching mounds of wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags out of the way.  Most of this ends up in a big black garbage bag without a second thought. 

Some of us go a little further, carefully folding tissue paper or gift bags and stacking them neatly to be used again.  This is a great start to sustainable gifting.  But what if you could be doing more?  Or rather, less?  What if there was a way to wrap all those presents that could save you time, money, and a trip to the garbage bin? 

Keep reading for my favorite Sustainable Gift Wrapping Ideas!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. I only link to products I have personally used or researched.  

Santa Sack or Fabric Gift Bags

I love fabric gift bags.  They can be big or small, festive or plain Jane.  Fabric gift bags can come in many sizes and often have a drawstring closure.  They can be reused over and over again without wearing out. Best of all, they really elevate the presentation of a gift.  When I receive a gift in a fabric bag, it sends the message that the gifter has made a thoughtful, conscious choice.  

Check out these versatile and fun fabric gift bags:

Going a step further, this year I am making “Santa Sacks” for my kids.  These are extra large gift bags that we will leave out for Santa to fill on Christmas Eve.

Click here for my 5 minute DIY Fabric Gift Bag Tutorial (AKA “Santa Sack”)

Packing Paper

If you love online shopping, you probably notice how often you get giant sheets of thick brown packing paper.  DON’T RECYCLE THAT YET!  I keep every sheet of packing paper I get and save them for gift wrap.  Throughout the year when we need to wrap gifts for kids or family birthday parties, I grab that packing paper and get to work.  Once the gift is wrapped up nicely, give your kids their art supplies. 

My kids draw pictures and write their names on every brown paper package we wrap.  I have gotten so many compliments over the years on this practice and I definitely recommend it. 

Sustainable gift wrapping


Last year in one of my dance classes I was discussing holiday traditions with my students.  One of my students told us that her parents never wrap their gifts from Santa.  Instead, they leave them in neatly stacked piles for each child.  Her parents told her Santa doesn’t have time to wrap everyone’s presents! 

I was shocked at first.  I asked if she felt deprived of the rush of excitement you get when ripping off the wrapping and discovering what was hidden underneath.  Her response? Not really.  She didn’t care as long as she got presents!  Think of all the time and stress you can save yourself by stacking presents into a cute display!

Using Part of the Gift

Another way to reduce packaging and gift wrapping is to use part of the gift as its own wrapping.  Now, this can’t be done with everything, but it is definitely a good option with clothes and home textiles.  If you are gifting a few articles of clothing, fold them together neatly and then use the largest item of clothing to wrap around the others.  Secure with some twine or recycled ribbons and you have a gift!  This could also be cute with hats and scarves,  baby accessories, and throw blankets.  

Children’s Artwork or Other Recyclables

I don’t know about you, but I have stacks and stacks of kids’ artwork that accumulates every month that needs to get disposed of somehow.  You can toss it into recycling, or you could use it to wrap small gifts for friends and family.  You can have your kids help pick out their favorite pieces for the giftee.  Remember to use paper craft tape so it can be easily removed and the artwork can be enjoyed again.  

Other options for using different materials you already have could include fabric scraps, tea towels, newspapers, or reusable shopping bags you are looking to part with. 

Gift wrapping sustainably

Gift Tags

So this might seem silly, but I have a fun way of making gift tags for people.  I will round up all the Christmas cards I receive from the previous year and cut out my favorite parts.  This could be images of trees and snowflakes, or short text like, “Happy Holidays”. Then I whole punch a corner, string some twine or ribbon through the hole, and address it to my person. 

Gift tag bonus points!  Is there a cute part of the family’s Holiday photo shoot you can cut out on the card?  Or the family’s name in fancy script (Merry Christmas from the Smiths)? Use that portion of the card and attach it to the gift meant for that family.  Did your friend send you a Christmas Card with her dogs on it? Cut out that cute pupper face and attach it to her gift!  I bet she’d love it. 

Reusing Bags, Boxes, Paper, & Ribbons

This is the most basic form of sustainability for gift wrapping and if you do nothing else in this post, do this!  Chances are, you will receive gifts throughout the year wrapped in various packaging that was just purchased and used only this one time.  If you turn around and toss that right into the recycling bin, you are missing out on a huge sustainability win. 

Instead, unwrap your gifts gently and store those supplies for later.  Bags, boxes, and tissue paper are the big ticket items, but don’t forget all those ribbons and bows.  They can be reused for gifts or kept in your craft supplies for future projects. 

Sustainable gift wrapping

Wrapping gifts doesn’t have to take away your time, money, or sanity!  By using these sustainable wrapping options, you are showing yourself (and the earth!) some kindness.  

You might also enjoy:

Experience Gifts For Everyone On Your List
6 Ways to Gift Sustainably
DIY Fabric Gift Bag Tutorial

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Sustainable gift wrapping


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