7 festive eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas for Christmas

Skip the traditional gift wrap this year with these easy, minimal wrapping ideas.

Dance through the festive days leaving a lighter footprint by minimising Christmas gift wrapping. Collect ribbon, bits of twine, paper, fabric scraps and even gift wrap received throughout the year, and it will be easier to reduce the amount of gift wrap needed for presents. The goal is to give every piece of packaging its longest lifespan possible before it’s recycled. For best results, encourage giftees to reuse the gift wrap as well.

1. Transform flour or bread bags into minimalist brown paper

If you go through a lot of flour, stow those 1kg and 5kg bags away for the Christmas season. To use them as gift wrap, gently cut or rip at the seam. Use the inside of the bag as the gift wrap exterior.

2. Add a touch of green

A sprig of rosemary is a classic that not only smells amazing but is biodegradable. Just about anything can be snipped and tucked into a parcel — our favourites are sage, thyme, tarragon or lavender.

Twine, while technically ribbon, is usually made up of natural materials such as cotton, hemp, jute, and linen. Twine will break down more easily than its synthetic counterpart. Even better — save any bits of twine or ribbon that come your way and stow away for next year’s gifts.

3. Hit the op shops

Upcycle another person’s treasure into reusable gift wrap. For a gift wrap that is as funky as it is affordable, scour your local op shop for old maps, antique cards, scarves, tea towels, lace, reusable totes or anything small and made of fabric and/or paper. For a gift box alternative, look for retro cookie tins, jars, keepsake boxes, or baskets.

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4. Use newspapers or magazines

Newspapers and magazines will inevitably be recycled. Why not give them one more lease of life? Newspapers are the easiest to transform into wrapping paper due to their large size. If your recipient is a big fan of NZ Life and Leisure and Lifestyle Block, some of our brightly coloured past covers make excellent (and nostalgic) gift wrap!

If an old T-shirt, skirt or set of sheets is approaching the end of its days, give it one last hurrah by cutting it into thin strips of ribbon. This is best for clothing made of thin fabric, as opposed to thicker materials such as denim, wool or corduroy. Give the strips a wash-and-dry before using for a slightly frayed look.

5. Upcycle tissue paper from parcels

Ordering items online often results in bits of bubble wrap, tissue paper, and other padding that helps protect the goods in transit. Stow bits of tissue away in a drawer and by the end of the year, you’ll likely have enough to upcycle for the next round of Christmas gifts. Don’t worry if sheets are crumpled or are in a motley crew of colours; layering mismatched sheets will make the unwrapping more fun.

6. Furoshiki

In Japan, square pieces of fabric called furoshiki are used to wrap and transport goods, gifts and even lunch. The best part? The person who you gift it to can reuse it again — and the cycle of furoshiki goes on and on. Learn how to do it here.

7. Forgo wrapping altogether

Some families opt to ditch gift wrap altogether. To make this a fun experience, hide gifts around the house and make a scavenger hunt out of it. Win-win.

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Nadia This article first appeared in Nadia: A Seasonal Journal Magazine.
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