Instead of purchasing expensive wrapping paper, boxes, bags and ribbons, which most likely will not be environmentally friendly, why not re-use, recycle and go handmade this holiday season.


  • Use your children's artwork to wrap gifts
  • Brown shopping bags are perfect for gifts.  Have your children draw a picture on them.  Cut an oval shape in the top for a handle.  If the bag has a shop logo on it, cover it with some scrap paper and embellishments.
  • Cover old shipping boxes, shoe boxes and used gift boxes with pretty paper.
  • Wrap your gifts in fabric … maybe the recipient is handy with a sewing machine and can make good use of the gorgeous fabric you choose.
  • If you are a sewer yourself, it won't take very much fabric or time to whip up a few gift bags … you could use old clothing, sheets, pillowcases or blankets to make the bags.  If you have already donated all of your goodies, go to the thrift stores and pick up a few pieces at rock bottom prices.
  • Do you have any old road maps? What about posters that your children once loved but no longer think are cool?  Or even old calendars? They'd make fabulous gift wrap … you may even be able to pick up a few of each of these items from re-sale shops or swap meets.
  • Everyone is using canvas bags for grocery shopping and to take to the market and the mall.  Purchase a few generic ones, a lot of stores sell them for just $1.  Not only will your gift be well received but the recipient will get a lot of use out of that canvas bag too.
  • Jars with a beautiful piece of fabric tied over the lid could be used for all kinds of small gifts … you could even fill it with a recipe or two for your favorite holiday cookies and add the ingredients the recipient will need to make them.
  • I'm sure most of us have a ton of old baskets laying about … you know the ones from the standard 'gift basket' or from gift packs of moisturizers and lotions.  How often have you used these?  If you haven't used them in a while, it's time to make a few homemade gift baskets of your own.
  • stories or poems that you have written will also make beautiful and very personal gift wrap. 
  • Are you still storing a plethora of tins from cookies and treats that have been given to you over the years.  These too can be filled with gifts.
  • Do you knit or crochet?  Why not whip up a few bags.  How great would it be to not only make the bag yourself but it would certainly be something special that the recipient could use again.
  • Make a dishtowel tote bag


  • Use your old newspapers or magazines
  • If you receive boxes with peanuts (not so eco friendly) at least hang on to them and re-use them.  Please don't throw them away.  If you decide not to re-use them please visit this website for locations of drop-off centers where these will be re-used (or call the hotline 800-828-2214).


Don't use plastic bows.

  • Fabric ribbons
  • Twine
  • Raffia


Why purchase gift tags and embellishments for your gift when you can probably make your own.

  • Have the kids make snowflakes … instructions here
  • Dry flowers from your garden
  • Grab some of those beautiful fall leaves that have fallen from your trees
  • Make your own gift tags.  All you need is a little recycled paper or cardboard, a hole punch and some imagination … write a little poem on it, embroider a holiday symbol or just simply write the recipients name on.
  • Tie on a cookie cutter
  • Do you hang onto all of those cards you've been given over the years.  Do you think it's time to do something with them.  You can still keep the inside which has a special message, but why not cut off the front and use it as a gift tag or just to decorate a tired box or bag.
  • Do you have a box of giant flower pins and hair accessories that you are no longer going to wear.  Great.  Add them onto your gift.
  • Make a polymer clay gift tag.  The kids would love to help with this activity. Break off small pieces, roll into a ball.  Flatten between wax paper.  Use a cookie cutter or shape by hand. Have the kids write the letter of the recipients first name in the clay or use a letter stamp, or holiday stamps if you have them.  Poke a hole in the top and then bake according to the instructions on the packet.


If you still want to purchase wrapping paper, bags, boxes or tags, please choose recycled or eco-friendly.  Check out some of these wonderful products.

Gift wrapping ideas

1. Angel Hair Spun Silk Tissue. Handmade recycle rayon with silk from Bangladesh.

2. Wooden gift tags. Handmade organic tags. (courtesy Etsy)

3. Gaiam seed gift wrap.  Made from biodegradable paper embedded with wildflower seeds.  Just plant and water.

4. Crinkle pillow box.  All crinkle boxes, bags and wrap  come in a kit complete with ribbon, tape and a tag.

5. Jute Pouch. Small draw string 100% biodegradable bag.

6. Furoshiki.  Originated in Japan and is an eco-friendly wrapping cloth.  There are instructions on the website with a large variety of wrapping styles.

7. Cogon Grass Window Bags.  Made from acid-free Congo grass fibers. Open die cut windows with closures and bamboo locks.


Tip:  You don't need to wrap gifts that go inside a stocking so save that paper and let the kids go to town pulling out their little stocking fillers and save on the wrapping.


As seen on:

Tip Junkie.

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Sandy Toes November 6, 2008 - 4:00 pm

What great ideas! Wow! Oh..I have always wrapped the stocking gifts but it would be nice not too!!! -sandy toes

Sharlene November 6, 2008 - 4:00 pm

I love the idea of giving gifts in reusable canvas bags! I am going to do that. My friend gave me this bag that collapses adn zips and fits in your purse. I love it. That would be a fantastic gift. I need to find out where she got that.

Brenda November 6, 2008 - 4:00 pm

Such great ideas! These wrapped gifts are so much more meaningful personal

Scrappinfor3 November 6, 2008 - 4:00 pm

Love these ideas! Nothing better than gifts that keep on giving (or wrapping that keeps giving. . .). I LOVE gift bags plan to make some cloth totes for my gift giving this year. . . I just need to figure out when Im going to do this. . . again, why do I NEED to sleep???

Christy November 6, 2008 - 4:00 pm

Love these ideas! I definitely plan on using a few of them this year! Thanks T!!

JT42 November 8, 2008 - 4:00 pm

FABULOUS ideas!! For baby showers I use a blanket as the “tissue” paper in a gift bag/basket…where do you find canvas bags for $1? I haven’t had that luck…

abigail @ Piece of Cake November 8, 2008 - 4:00 pm

thanks for all the eco info! it’s really getting me thinking about what i’m going to do this year…

sandwiched December 10, 2008 - 4:00 pm

Brilliant! I’ll have to use these if I host a gift wrapping party

Melissa December 15, 2008 - 4:00 pm

These are such great ideas! I hope to be able to sew all my gift bags for birthdays and holidays next year.


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