No Waste Wrapping

Wrapping paper can really make the gift sparkle and stand out. There are so many choices in the stores, and you can even custom order your own. Paper for any occasion or preference is out there for us. We (all of people) seem to like it. And why not, it sure is pretty.

According to research from Hallmark, Americans spend approximately $3.2 billion a year on wrapping paper and bags.[^1]

Perhaps because it is so pretty, we use a lot of wrapping paper - and what do we do with it? For the most part, we throw it in the trash. Anyone else save wrapping paper and tissue and bags and all of that? My hand is up, but the stash does not always fit what you need to wrap. And that is when we need to reach for a roll or flat of wrapping paper, a bag, or find an alternative.

Or, I guess we can just give the gift unwrapped?

Wait, no. The thing is, we don’t just want to hand over a thing. Presentation is part of it. There is a thrill that goes along with the uncertainty - the not knowing - the mystery that is in the wrap. Right?!

“What can I use instead of gift wrap and bags to present gifts?”

Here we go: 8 alternatives that are awesome.

1. Newspaper

Newspaper is perfect for wrapping. It looks good in large and small packages, and the words do not matter. The comics, games, and weather sections offer color and variety. We love how easy it is to work with newspaper. Newspaper is also a useful stuffing material for other wrapping methods - both shredded and balled. Note: you may be able to get blank newspaper ends from a local paper.

2. Paper bags

Paper bags are slightly less easy than newspaper and may be more readily available - depending on your reading and shopping habits! Cut or pull the seams to get a flat piece of bag for wrapping or use the bag as is and stuff with a soft material.

3. Fabric shopping bags

I don’t know about you, but I somehow end up with more of these reusable bags than I need - all the time. Grocery chains give them out, they come with your race packets, and they are very affordable should you want to buy them. We like to give them as is and stuff, so the giftee can use the bag if they like, but I’ve also seen the bags cut and folded as wrapping.

4. Food storage containers

Speaking of wrapping with something that can be reused, why not use some plastic or glass storage containers. Storage containers are useful and solid enough for gifting. You can find them pre-printed in many designs, or use the plain ones and line the inside with butcher or parchment paper.

5. Maps

Do you remember maps? Like, actual real paper maps you could trace your finger on? They are out there, collecting dust, in houses everywhere. Be brave, rip or cut maps out of old atlases and travel books or unfold those complex puzzles. The colors and designs are mesmerizing.

6. Your drawings…or your kid’s drawings

Anyone with kids knows that they will make at home and also bring home ample artwork. It does not all fit on the fridge, and most of it is not museum quality. Fun art is perfect for wrapping, though. If you don’t have kiddos or you just want to take a go of it yourself, you can draw on butcher paper, drawing paper, or just about any paper that you have around. Not just drawing but also stamping or painting will work to bring a little spark and interest to the gift. Two notes of caution: 1 construction paper is too inflexible to make a good wrapping material for most items - you can make it work if you are very gentle and 2 plain white printer paper is generally see through - try a heavier paper or multiple layers.

7. Mugs or mason jars

Small items fit so nicely inside of mugs. You can purchase mugs at just about any home goods or thrift store, get custom mugs from a local maker, paint to personalize yourself at a pottery shop, … or make them yourself if you have that kind of skill.

8. Clothing

If you are gifting clothing, you can use it, inside out, to wrap itself or an accompanying gift. This works best with sturdy items that are unlikely to rip or stain, like colored T-shirts - which happen to be very popular gifts. You can use scrap fabric in a similar way - fleece is great for wrapping!

We are not opposed to wrapping paper - it is beautiful and flexible and well suited to its purpose. You can do what works best for your gift.

Let us know if you have another great wrapping alternative!

[^1]:Williams, Geoff. 2014. The Hidden Costs of the Holidays. U.S.News. Money. November 28. Retrieved from:

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