There are few small indulgences that can do more to build anticipation for the holidays than a few perfectly wrapped gifts. Yet, with recycling, reusing and repurposing always front of mind as we approach 2022, the scraps of discarded wrapping paper start to seem like a missed opportunity.
Here’s a modern and thoughtful option: use what you’ve already got, and ideally, make sure you’re not buying something new in order to package your gifts. It’s called “upcycling,” folks. Because there’s a lot more to wrapping a gift than throw-away paper. A few of our best ideas:
As we demonstrate in the video below, it’s a snap to use beautiful, re-usable cloths to wrap presents. The Japanese have employed this technique for thousands of years. (It dates to the 8th century!) With some careful tucking of corners and tying of soft cloth knots, your gift can be just as pretty as the tartan number shown here. (Or consider our après ski reusable wrap!)
2. Upcycled Shopping Bags
Invariably, indubitably, inevitably, you’re going to have a leftover paper shopping bag kicking around, no matter how vigilant you’ve been about using your own bags. So use it to wrap square gifts, ensconce hot chocolate tins, or just turn them into cards. Plain and on its own, a durable, brightly hued or shiny shopping bag actually looks chic. If you need a little more oomph, embellish the package with a fresh evergreen sprig, a stem of rosemary, found or saved ribbon, or even baking twine.
3. Reusable Product Packaging
Ever open a packaged good and marvel and the packaging itself, whether it was intriguing, overdone, weirdly shaped, or durable? Put those qualities to good use, and re-use that packaging! Who wouldn’t love a tennis ball container full of chocolates or homemade cookies, or a peppermint bark tin containing a vintage scarf? Wrap them in scrap paper if need be, or apply a quick coat of craft paint.
4. Dramatic Reveal
Got a weirdly shaped gift, like a pre-assembled toy train set, a play tent, or an appliance? We love this idea from a Popular Science writer: Use a sheet or tarp. “You can pull off the sheet like you’re unveiling a car at a press event, then gesture toward the gifts like a proud gameshow host.” Hilarious and zero-waste.
5. Food Stuffs
Not zero but very low-waste: Look to your kitchen. Inevitably, something there will do the trick. Whether it’s the glass mason jar you cleaned out after making jam, the red-and-white baker’s twine you use to wrap roasts, the parchment paper that can be cut into pretty snowflakes, there’s definitely something fuss-free and possibly reusable in there. And consider edible herbs as garnishes; sage, rosemary and lavender can all be lovely.
6. Re-Gift Wrapping
If you’re anything like us, you’ve been gifted a zillion bows, baubles, ribbons and party bags. If you’re smart, you’ve set them aside. Put them back into rotation before they hit the dumpster. No one will know.
7. Paper Towel Rolls
Save your paper towel and toilet paper tubes! You can use them for anything from jewelry to winter socks. It’s one more way to mix up stocking stuffers this year. And just look how classy they can look.