Sustainable Gift Wrap Ideas for the Holidays
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – also known as the season full of stress, expenses and additional waste. But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be? Using some smart strategies, we can reduce the anxiety that comes with the Christmas season and minimise the negative impact our celebrations have on the environment. We will always encourage ‘presence’ over presents – the greatest gift of all is quality time spent with friends and loved ones! For many of us, though, holiday gift-giving is an inevitable part of our seasonal celebrations– so here are our top 10 ways to wrap your gifts this year and keep it sustainable!
1. Fabric Wrap
Fabric wraps are a convenient and adorable way to wrap your gifts for any occasion, and the options are endless – you can use plain, coloured or patterned varieties to personalise the look, and you might even have some around the house ready to use! If you don’t have any spare fabric handy, check out your local second-hand stores and look for sheets you could cut to size: pillow cases, table cloths and clothing can all be reused at a fraction of the cost of buying new fabric. We love this gift-wrapping method – not only is it cute and unique, but the fabric can also be re-purposed once the gift is unwrapped.
2. Produce Bags
Produce bags are such a great low impact staple and are incredibly versatile, so they’re a perfect addition to any zero-waste kit and one of the first investments we recommend for anyone pursuing their sustainability goals. Using produce bags to wrap holiday gifts replaces wasteful wrapping paper and the receiver gets a bonus 2-in-1 gift they can reuse over and over. There are many stores that offer zero-waste produce bags,or you can refer to back to Tip 1 – making your own produce bags from left over or second-hand fabric is cheap and easy! Just be mindful of the fabric you choose and keep it lightweight, so you aren’t paying extra for your produce when it’s weighed.
3. Snack Bags
Snack bags are another great way to reduce your waste, and they aren’t just for kids – we use ours on a daily basis! There are so many adorable options out there in different styles and sizes, and you’ll never have to use plastic Ziploc bags again, which is a great zero-waste swap. Otherwise,you can always make your own – just like produce bags, they’re super simple to make, even for people without any sewing experience. This also provides extra value for the receiver, helping them reduce their plastic waste (which is great for friends and family who need a little nudge towards a more sustainable lifestyle).
Are you sensing a trend here? We absolutely love gift wrap ideas that can be re-purposed afterwards, especially when they help to reduce waste in the future. If your gift is particularly small you may be able to wrap it in a napkin – another item that’s easy to sew, even for beginners, and can be made from re-purposed fabric in any colour or design you like. Fabric napkins are incredibly useful and are great value compared to paper napkins in addition to reducing waste, making them a perfect gift for anyone and everyone.
5. Wax Wraps
You’ve probably heard of wax wraps by this point – they’re incredibly popular in zero-waste communities and are a fantastic replacement for cling wrap in the kitchen. These sustainable little beauties also make fantastic gift wrap for smaller items and can be reused by the recipient again and again. That’s guaranteed to make your gift their favourite this year! Bonus sustainability points for purchasing from a local business or creator, helping to support your local community at this important time of year.
Another great option for smaller gifts – if your present will fit inside a jar (and there are so many sizes and shapes to choose from!) the recipient can then reuse it however they like, helping to support their own low-impact lifestyle. Just be sure to look for second-hand over brand new if you can: check out your local buy-swap-sell groups, Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle or second-hand stores for plenty of free or low-cost options.
7. Old Newspaper
Newspaper is a handy and sustainable option which can be recycled after use and gives a new life to something that otherwise would’ve gone to landfill. It’s also great for kids who love the ‘unwrapping’ experience without the cost and waste of buying gift wrap. If you don’t have an old newspaper or two at home, ask friends or family – someone is bound to have a couple lying around!
“But I want my gifts to look pretty and decorative!” I hear you saying. Don’t worry, there are plenty of sustainable ideas to make your gifts look gorgeous this year!
Branches, leaves, twigs, pine cones… sounds a bit far-fetched at first, but we’re serious here! Looking around your garden or local park for adornments will give your gifts a unique and rustic touch, and these ‘decorations’ are fully compostable afterwards. If you’re looking to save money this Christmas, this might be the perfect solution for you! We have some adorable examples pictured below to give you some inspiration.
9. Wax Seals
We recently came across this fantastic way of sealing gifts– not only does it look super sophisticated, but it’s also a more sustainable alternative to plastic sticky tape. The wax can also be reused afterwards by melting it down for a new seal or removed from the gift to stick elsewhere
10. No Tape
There are more sustainable and compostable options out thereto replace the typical plastic sticky tape. However, we do recommend using some clever gift-wrapping techniques to remove the need for sticky tape at all! Take a look at this brilliant Japanese method for completely tape-free gift wrapping:
11. Reusable Items
If you really want to use ribbon, string and gift wrap, don’t throw it all away after the gifts are opened – save it from ending up in landfill and store it in your cupboard ready for the next gift you give. It’s likely that nobody will mind if you ask for the ribbons or tags back if they’re destined for the trash anyway! Otherwise, you can encourage the gift recipient to reuse the decorations or wrapping for their own gift-giving, saving them money as well. Look for options that can be used for any age and occasion so it’s easy to re-purpose them throughout the year. Pictured below are just a few ideas. for sustainable, reusable gift decorations: we especially love these ceramic gift tags you can DIY or purchase from a local creator.