How to wrap gifts without paper

Every year I get a few comments from Unclutterers about the wastefulness of wrapping paper. It’s there for a few minutes and then it’s gone and tossed into the trash.

Now, I understand that wrapping paper adds to the festive feeling of gift-giving. A carefully-wrapped gift can express caring and affection for the recipient. I love a well-wrapped gift, but I can see the other side, too. If you’re in the anti-wrap camp, here are several ideas for clever ways to wrap gifts without paper.


A beautiful cloth can make a gift look fantastic. Furoshiki is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that’s perfect for oddly-shaped packages or gifts. It’s also a great choice when a scarf or beautiful cloth is part of the gift.

If you want to give this a try, download this beautifully illustrated PDF from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. Likewise, the video below provides a nice step-by-step for a popular method.

You can also re-purpose decorative napkins, old curtains or scrap fabric. Simply stitch them together for a fun, vintage look.

Lastly, I found this great idea using a cable knit sweater , some ribbon and decorative pine cones. It’s clever and looks great.

Re-purposed paper

For many, the issue is the single-use nature of wrapping paper. One thing you can do about it is re-use decorative retail bags. Here’s a great example using holiday-themed grocery bags from Trader Joe’s . Likewise, you can buy an inexpensive stamp like this and some scrap paper from the printer, junk mail, etc. and create great-looking wrap.

When I was young, my mother would occasionally wrap presents in the color Sunday comics from the newspaper. It always looked great and I thought it was a lot of fun.


You can buy a gift bag. It’s not my favorite solution, but it’s there. If that’s not your thing, consider these other fun packages and gift wrap.

Here’s a great tutorial on turning a cereal box into a lovely and charming gift box. Likewise, here’s a tutorial on using a Pringles container to present beautiful, customized gifts.

I hope this list was helpful. A thoughtfully-wrapped gift can say as much as the goodie it contains. And yes, paper is not your only option. Have fun wrapping! And don’t worry, there’s plenty of time left.

5 Comments for “How to wrap gifts without paper”

  1. posted by Louise on

    I usually purchase gift bags so I don’t have a roll of wrapping paper cluttering up the house that ends up squashed or unusable by next Christmas. My Mum uses plain coloured gift bags and Christmas swing tags that can be removed so the bags can be reused for other gifts.

  2. posted by Genia on

    Our local homeless newspaper, The Contributor, sells a couple of “wrapping paper issues” every holiday season. Each page is a beautiful piece of wrapping paper, designed by homeless and formerly homeless artists. Buying the paper helps the vendors and the purchaser alike.

  3. posted by Denee on

    This is a great post and so needed! I also do this for bridal/baby showers where I use one of the towels off of their registry to wrap the present.

  4. posted by sheryl scheid on

    Love using gift bags, and I save them to re-use over and over. Easy to store and quick to use.

  5. posted by chamekke on

    I’ve been using furoshiki as holiday giftwrap for over a decade now. Environmental and economical! Plus we have one superlatively hideous Christmas-themed furoshiki that we all look forward (?) to using in particular. It’s a family tradition 🙂

    (There are lots of other great uses for furoshiki, of course. I usually keep a cotton one in my handbag for diverse purposes: it can wrap a lunch, make a bag for small items, serve as a seat when a park bench is wet from rain, keep a paperback from getting dog-eared…)

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