Since starting our journey to living more sustainably we’ve been working towards our promise to live consciously, not perfectly. For any given purchase or task we ask ourselves “is there a more sustainable way to do this?” Many times the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no. This Christmas, when we asked if there was a more sustainable way to wrap the presents under the tree we found the answer to be yes. It would involve getting a little more creative, but the path to intentional living usually does. But what we created was not only a fun project to do together but also a way to make our home even more beautiful with presents that made a statement under the tree!
Recycled Cloth Gift Wrap
The best-kept secret of gift wrap is fabric. Let me tell you how much fun these presents turned out and the knot you tie to keep it wrapped creates a magical bow that is elegant and elaborate in all the right ways. I happen to have a stack of old African fabric from when I lived in Uganda back in 2012. However, if you go to a thrift store and pick up leftover sewing fabric, old sheets, or towels, you could get the same effect. The thinner the fabric the easier it is to fold and tie up. The darker the fabric the harder it is to see through it. I also wrapped the gifts in the warehouse of Amazon boxes we were getting at our house. I even stuffed a sweater into a Christmas lights box that I found lying around. By wrapping your gift in an unusually sized box, you also trick your loved one into what you got for them.
After your gift exchange, hold onto the fabric to use again and again! It’s a great way to keep that childhood memory of tearing open a present without having to waste tons of paper.
Paper Bag Sustainable Gift Wrap
We go to Trader Joe’s about 2x a month to load up on our favorite things and we often forget to bring a reusable bag there. However, we appreciate their use of paper bags and they happen to be the perfect way to wrap gifts for the holidays, especially with their red and white festive drawings on the outsides.
I simply cut the sides down so the paper makes the shape of an “X”, placed the gift inside, and got creative with folding it up. You’ll still need to use tape to hold things together unless you have another creative idea on how to stick it together, but it’s still a lot less waste than the alternative. And you’re recycling a bag that most likely would have gone into the trash or recycling bin anyways.
One of the gift bags under the tree is from my childhood. Yes, that’s how long my family reuses gift bags. We keep a box of wrapping supplies in the garage with tissue paper and bags so that we have a quick and easy way to wrap them when we need them. We even give my mother a hard time about how many gifts come in bags because she hates to wrap anything. (I like to think of it as her way of living sustainably).
Left Over Packaging
In the boxes we got with our deliveries throughout this Fall and Winter they often come stuffed with brown paper, filled with plastic filler, and packages tied with ribber or string. All of these things can be used again.
Save the paper to use as recycled wrapping paper just like the paper grocery bags. Use excess plastic as a filler in gift bags or to keep something wrapped up safely in a box. And finally, save all the ribbon and twine you can. If you’re going to wrap your gifts with fabric you’ll need a string to hold it together.
Sustainable Gift Wrap
This way of wrapping gifts was such a fun and creative process for me. I even told my husband he could use anything he would like to wrap gifts (he’d rather just leave them in the box they came in) and he got pretty creative with cutting shapes out of Trader Joes bags to add to the top of the wrapping and creating bows out of brown paper.
Trying to celebrate a more sustainable Christmas doesn’t need to be stressful. Think of gift wrapping as a craft project and invite the kids to come up with new ideas on how they can wrap gifts too. Have fun in curating the full experience of the gift you have to give with some sustainable gift wrap.