First off, why? Why do we think it’s a good thing to eliminate gift wrap? Gift wrap is one of those things that we use once and then it goes straight into the garbage. Plus, most gift wraps are coated with plastic and they aren’t recyclable. Why buy something, only to throw it in the garbage? And, if we can figure out a way to stop using single use items and replace them with reusable items, we could save so much money!
Ok, so now for the good part: actually putting our dreams to work and making changes in our lives.
Step 1: Use up your old wrapping paper and gift bags. This step is almost a no brainer when we think about it. But speaking from personal experience, I often just jump right into trying new things and buying all of the necessary materials before using up what I have left first. This has left me with a bunch of clutter and feeling a bit guilty because I’m tempted to just toss the old stuff rather than using it up slowly. If you’re like me and just can’t hold back your excitement of trying this new method, make sure to first pass on all of your wrapping paper and bags to someone that wants to use them and doesn’t want to switch to reusables. Another option is to donate them to the Food Bank (for any of their Christmas gifts) or a thrift store where someone else could purchase and use it.
Step 2: Make or buy reusable gift wrap. Now I say make first because “the most sustainable items are the ones that already exist”. It’s easy and almost ingrained in us to just buy whatever we need, but it’s much more sustainable if we can make due with what we already have. So it’s a good idea to scrounge around your house first and see if there’s any pretty fabric (old blankets, sheets, ill fitting clothes, etc) laying around that you can repurpose into some memorable gift wrap. It’s a great way to hold onto old, memory laden material and reuse it in a cute way.
Now the two basic patterns to use old fabric as gift wrap is to just cut out a square and have foldable fabric, or make a little (or big) bag to put the gift in. The square of fabric is easiest if you don’t own a sewing machine, choose a fabric such as felt, that won’t fray when you cut it. If you want to try to make your own bags, you can borrow sewing machines from the local library or hire a tailor to quickly do up this easy pattern. Pillow cases also make great gift bags!
Step 3: Use the fabric to wrap. Another plus about using fabric wrapping is no tape! No more using tape or running out of tape and needing to make a last minute dash to the store at 9pm to grab some more. No more tape sticking to your hands, no more wasted tape when it folds over and sticks to itself so steadfastly that you give up and just cut a new piece. Now I’m not saying that fabric wrapping is all bubbles and sunflowers, but in my humble opinion, it’s a lot nicer than paper wrapping once you get a little practice. It involves folding and tying, two essential skills we all learned in boy and girl scouts. If you would like some guides on how to beautifully wrap and decorate gifts using fabric, look up the Japanese gift-wrapping art of Furoshiki. Plain fabric gifts are transformed from drab little sad things into the sweetest gifts that anyone has seen by using ribbons and small ornaments like pine cones, flowers, twigs, and leaves.
And the last tip: Don’t purchase things that need to be wrapped. Give the gift of yummy food (like cookies or a meal), or experiences, or classes or favors (taking their dog out for walks while they’re at work, or babysitting their kids so they can go on a date). We have a whole guide of giftwrap-free gift ideas to inspire you!