Last Updated on April 20, 2023
Let’s talk about how to wrap a gift: the zero waste edition! You can wrap presents beautifully without creating a lot of trash. Everything you see photographed was pulled from a recycling bin, from work, or around my house.
The best way to wrap presents is with love! Gift giving can be incredibly wasteful, but sustainable gift wrapping is beautiful, shows you care, and doesn’t produce a ton of waste! These gift wrap ideas use items around your home — or can incorporate the gift itself! Look no further for sustainable, unique gift wrapping ideas that will impress as well as benefit the environment.
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the best way to wrap presents
Bookmark this post to learn how to wrap a gift sustainably! Plus, when wrapping with items such as butcher paper or newspaper, you can still use the best way to wrap presents (or your favorite way!)
And, in keeping with the zero waste theme, none of the items shown were purchased. I’ve wrapped several beautiful gifts as examples using things I pulled from recycling, found around my home, or made from stuff I already had. Sustainable gift wrapping is beautiful and thoughtful!
sustainable gift wrapping:
These gift wrap ideas include traditional wrapping methods as well as fun ways to adorn your gifts. For wrapping, these are my favorite go-to options.
I always find shop bags in the recycling. You can see the one with the brocade pattern below. One of the viewers from my holiday webinar had a great tip — take an old greeting card and place it over the logo on the bag if there is one.
With the amount of online shopping people do in my office, there’s never a short supply of butcher paper — white or brown — in stock. You can always doodle festive drawings on the paper or keep it plain and add some pizzazz in other ways.
I think newsprint is such a cute wrapping idea. There’s always newsprint of some kind in a recycling bin. Sometimes free circulars might wind up in your mailbox despite your anti-junk mail campaigns. They make the perfect last minute wrapping paper.
Of course, they don’t have to be real silk, but there’s always a plethora of these scarves at the thrift store. They make such a beautiful addition to any present and are a present in themselves. Tying scarves on bags is so popular right now!
Cloth napkins are also a dime a dozen at the thrift store. They come in all different colors, perfect for any design scheme to go with your additional decorations.
how to wrap a gift with scarves or napkins
Cloth napkins are a little more rigid than silk scarves, but I tie them both the same way. The knot on top makes a cute bow.
Lay your fabric on a flat surface and place your gift in the middle of it. Ensure the flat sides of your box are lined up with the corners of the scarf/napkin.
Pull one corner over the object with the tail wrapping around the opposite side of the box. Take the opposite corner and overlap it in the opposite direction.
Tie the two remaining corners in a knot in the middle of the package and lay the tails flat. Such a cute, unique gift wrapping idea!
decorative gift wrap ideas
This is where you get to get really creative! I love getting to design the packages. Some of my favorite decorations are listed below.
When I tie a present in brown paper or newsprint, much like in the Sound of Music, I tie my packages up with string. I’ve had a spool of cotton string in the house for years. It can be used to make homemade candles, used for cooking, or tie up packages.
I love brooches. I used to have a whole bunch back home. There are so many beautiful ones in thrift stores or maybe in your grandmother’s jewelry box. When you tie your packages up with scarves or napkins, pin them on the bow to add a little bit of festivity.
Be sure it’s a brooch you don’t mind parting with, as you may not get it back!
Bracelets also make a great addition to cloth napkins. Tie the bracelet around the knot to add a little bit of extra sparkle.
As with the brooches, be sure it’s a bracelet you don’t mind giving away — it’s awkward to ask for it back! Even better if it’s part of the gift.
Dried oranges are some of my favorite holiday decorations. They smell amazing and are SO easy to make. I thinly slice the oranges and sandwich them between a cloth tea towel.
Then, set them on a metal drying rack to dry for 24 hours. Finally, bake them on the drying rack for 2-3 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leftover dried oranges can be boiled with cinnamon sticks to make a stove top potpourri.
Another beautiful and compostable decoration! Tie them with some string and add a splash of greenery for a beautiful present.
I’m biased toward rosemary because it’s the only type of herb I have managed to not kill. It’s also fairly hearty and pretty festive, so it will stay green on your packages instead of turning brown.
Now, I did spend a good portion of my childhood in San Antonio. I have several bolo ties, and I think they make some very festive decorations for presents.
old christmas cards
For years, I have collected old Christmas cards. I cut the signature portion off and leave the front with the pretty pictures to add to packages and use in the future.
Of course, the fresh scent of pine is lovely and oh-so festive! Nothing says happy holidays more than a couple of festive pine needles. You can typically go pick up some fallen branches for free from the local Christmas tree lot.
Since I don’t have a tree, I plan on grabbing some branches to put in a vase as my mini-tree for our tiny house.
how else can i wrap gifts more sustainably?
There are loads of ways to gift wrap more sustainably! Reuse cardboard boxes from previous purchases, use biodegradable paper tape, or turn old clothes into wrapping and bows. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
are there other unique gift wrapping ideas?
Tons. A lot of what makes them unique is the method used rather than the materials used, though! The internet is full of tutorials for fabric wrapping in intricate or ornate ways, or even how to use everyday items to create eye-catching bows. Be sure to choose a tutorial that allows for you to use sustainable items — the sky is the limit.
How do you wrap your presents in a low waste manner?