For the last few years, I’ve been slowly using up the remainder of a 4-roll wrapping paper kit to package up my holiday gifts. Buying paper products that someone is just going to throw away has always made me flinch. So many families’ wrapping paper ends up in landfills after a relatively short, sparkly moment under the tree. In fact, the U.S. throws away 4 million tons of gift wrap and ribbons after the holidays. There has to be a better way!
Luckily, with a heaping scoop of creativity and some patience for learning something new, we can greatly reduce this waste. Here are just a few ideas for decorating your gifts to family and friends that are more ethical, eco-friendly, and even reusable.
1. Old maps or newspaper as gift wrap. Who says you need smiling snowmen or red and green polka dots on your gifts? You can create a totally unique and intriguing piece of art by wrapping presents in colorful maps or lines of text from your neighbor’s old newspaper pages. A map of your local parks can even be unfolded and pinned on a bulletin board afterward for recording hiking excursions!
2. Reusable boxes. Shoe boxes and jewelry boxes destined for the recycling bin make wonderful vessels for your holiday gifts. There are countless ways to customize these boxes – especially those that have a separate lid – with paint, paper, stamps, and any other medium to make your gifts turn heads.
3. Cloth. There is no rule that says wrapping gifts must be done with paper. Reusable tea towels, scarves, handkerchiefs, and fabric remnants from the discount bin can serve as beautifully decorative wraps for gifts of all shapes and sizes. If you have a knack for sewing, you can even create your own cloth bags.
4. Glass containers. Everyone loves a mason jar nowadays, right? Package up homemade gifts (like a brownie or hot chocolate mix, soup ingredients and spices, or some of your famous homemade jam) or layer stocking stuffers in a glass jar that your loved one can reuse as a smoothie glass, pickling receptacle, or flower vase. It’s a double gift!
5. Natural embellishments. Don’t waste your money on bows that will end up in the trash. On the day before you give out your gifts, take a walk in your backyard or a park to collect pinecones, twigs, flowers, or leaves to give your presents a rustic touch. These materials will decompose naturally, leaving you and your gift recipients guilt-free.
What other eco-friendly techniques do you use to decorate your gifts?