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Published on December 5th, 2011 | by Sonya Kanelstrand


Green Holiday Gift Wrapping Ideas

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The awareness towards reducing and anti-consumerism is getting stronger by the hour in all fields of life. The tough economic and environmental conditions around the world are the reason why more and more people are turning to age-old traditions and are embracing simple living. To increase your sustainability and reduce your carbon footprint this Christmas, I challenge you to rediscover creative green gift wrapping.

Did you know that 50% of the paper consumed in the U.S. every year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products? Let’s make a difference this holiday season, and wrap the Christmas gifts in an eco-friendly way!

[Photo via HOBOinteriors]


Maps are typically printed on sturdy paper meant to endure. They are colorful and if you there is no tourist center close by where you can pick several for free, just use old maps to wrap the presents. They will not only be attractive but educational as well!

Calendars and Magazines

Old calendars and magazines are another great source of sturdy paper you can use for gift wrapping and they come in different sizes! Just trim out whatever you don’t like and you are ready to start wrapping!


Here is a vintage packing solution that will challenge your creativity. Decide on the design and colors of the page you want to use and add more paper decoration if needed. You can glue shapes of colored paper or paper scraps. Or you can go with the plain look, why not. You can also make newspaper gift bags, which can be reused.


Use old wallpaper leftovers to achieve a vintage look of your presents. Basically any wallpaper will do, depending on the theme of the gift – bright colors, subtle flowers and decorations… dig in your closet for those scraps that were left after you last renovated your living room.

Plant leaves

Use banana palm leaves, big maple or oak leaves, or any leaves you find appropriate. Use your imagination depending on your location. Tie them with twine and you have the best organic gift wrap ever. Note that they will not stay fresh for long so postpone wrapping as much as possible.

Reusable fabric bags

You can either sew your own fabric gift bag or buy one. They make a great alternative to traditional gift wrap and they lead the way with reusability. This technique provides a reusable wrapper and also doubles the gift you are giving.

A gift in a gift

Fabric gift items can actually be used for wrapping another gift. A handknitted or crocheted item, a blanket, a table cloth, a tshirt or similar items are all perfect for creative and no-garbage gift wrapping.

Old sweaters

You can felt old wool sweaters and turn them into wrapping or you can use different parts from any type of sweater for gift containers. For example you can use a sleeve for a long object like a bottle.
Here’s a tutorial.


Furoshiki is a Japanese fabric folding technique, which is basically origami with fabric instead of paper. The Ministry of Environment of Japan has published the instructions for numerous Furoshiki gift wrapping styles here.


This is a Korean form of wrapping gifts in fabric that is very similar to Furoshiki. if you choose to wrap your gifts using the Bojagi technique, you will even have a handle for the packages as well. You can use any fabric that you have- an extra scarf, leftover fabric from a project, etc.

  • Watch this great video to learn how to use the Bojagi technique.


You can find a lot of printable gift packaging ideas hereto use with any medium.

Although eco-friendly gift wrapping poses a challenge, it is not that hard to remain in the eco circle during the holidays and still have beautifully packed gifts. Just use your imagination and put your heart in every little detail – that is what makes Christmas so special!

[Red Furoshiki Photo via Shutterstock]

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About the Author

Sonya is a photographer and a creative artist sharing her Scandinavian experiences. Her blog Kanelstrand Organic Living has become the meeting point of a vibrant green community of eco-conscious artists and crafters from around the world. Sonya believes that people and nature can co-exist together in a healthy and inspiring union without harming each other. She implements the knowledge gained from studying Philology and Pedagogy in her approach to sustainable and eco-friendly living.

  • Marie

    Thank you so much for including my Furoshiki and newspaper gift wraps Sonya! This is a really inspirational post to wrap green this year.

  • Sonya Kanelstrand

    You are welcome, Marie! Your gift wraps are outstanding, a just green gift wrapping post couldn’t go without them.

  • Doris Jetz

    Another great article promoting the use of fabric instead of paper. Very slowly, I can see this gaining momentum. Maria – I like how you include the flowers in the furoshiki wrapping techniques. It’s pretty easy to find instructions on different wrapping techniques but I’ve got a couple more on my website at Happy Holidays!

    • Sonya Kanelstrand

      Your website is an inspiration, Doris. I particularly like the bottle wrap.

  • Sandy

    Great ideas for green wrapping. Big exception is the idea of getting maps from a tourist center. It is great to use old maps but to take new maps from a tourist center is no greener than buying wrapping paper and is flat out stealing from the tourist center.

  • Doris Jetz

    Thanks Sonya! There are so many really interesting ways to wrap gifts with furoshiki. I think the basic wrap and two bottle wrap are the best and most versatile methods. I have found that the more creative you get, the more fabric it can take. Lots of people think they can’t make it look nice. It’s so easy though, I often tell people it’s actually hard to mess it up!

  • michaelt

    I love the creative ideas you talk about in this article. Posts like this are what bring awareness to people so they can wake up and make more conscious choices. Thank you for this info! Here is a link to some of my sustainable holiday ideas:

  • Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable

    Perfection! I love everything about this post! Thank you for sharing this wealth of information:)

    • Sonya Kanelstrand

      You are welcome, Andrea! by the way, I checked out your blog and I love it!

  • Ruth

    Wow, what great ideas. I hope lots of people take your advice on this. most of these wrapping Ideas are so much more beautiful than your regular wrapping paper fair.

  • Tabitha

    Great ideas! But be careful with wallpaper. Often times it has a toxic glue on it, which could harm the gift reciever if they don’t wash their hands well after!

    • Sonya Kanelstrand

      Tabitha, that is a very good point! Thank you for your input! On the other hand, most wallpaper glues I know are pretty harmless. I am curious to learn more.

      • Chris

        I’m pretty sure most wallpaper does not have toxic glue on the back- these things are highly regulated, at least in the US- where is this fact coming from, specifically?

    • Chris

      Tabitha, I’m an interior decorator who has seen a lot of wallpaper hung in my lifetime- I’m pretty sure most wallpaper does not have toxic glue on the back- these things are highly regulated, at least in the US… besides, touching dry glue as you describe probably does not necessitate washing hands to avoid death, otherwise there would be a lot of dead wallpaper hangers, not to mention store clerks and customers. I’ve personally never seen a wallpaper hanger use gloves and can’t imagine why a manufacturer would put themselves at risk to wrongful death lawsuits when they could simply use non-toxic glues which are commonly available. Where is this fact coming from, specifically?

      Source: Green Living Ideas (

  • how do i

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  • Gail

    I was cleaning up the grandkid’s dress up box today – I found some canteen bandanas – think I will use these as gift wrappers

    • Andrea Bertoli

      Great idea Gail!

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