It’s the Thought That Counts
Traditional wrapping paper—though beautiful—is often a single-use product, ending up in landfills not long after a present is opened. Though there is more recyclable gift wrap out there these days, some DIYers want to wrap gifts in unconventional, more eco-friendly ways.
We’ve collected 18 creative ways to wrap gifts, making them more personal, more sustainable, and even more convenient if these materials are already at your home.
The next time you send a gift, try one of these out-of-the-gift-box ideas for wrapping presents.
1. Sticky Trick
Plain paper and washi tape can make an eye-catching combo when used as gift wrap. After covering the item with white paper, cut out or arrange the washi tape in shapes of your choosing, or simply stick on strips in a random fashion for a fun punch of pattern.
2. Custom Colors
Rolls of packing paper, which come fairly cheap, can be easily and attractively transformed into pretty gift wrap using this glitzy idea. Lay out sheets in a well-ventilated area, then spray-paint them any color you desire. Try varying the coats to create an ombré effect, or add a spritz of metallic paint for a gorgeous sheen.
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3. Map It
Old maps or atlases are easy to come by at yard sales and thrift stores, and their generous size make them ideal for wrapping gifts. Once you've covered your package, finish it off with some fluffy yarn, a pipe-cleaner bow, or a feather, and it’s ready to travel to its next destination.
4. Brown Paper Packages
For an appealingly organic effect, go to the backyard and gather an array of twigs, leaves, and berries. Wrap your goodies in brown paper or tissue paper, tie a length of twine around the center, then use the greenery as the super-simple yet stunning finishing touch.
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5. Read All About It
This clever crafter used her sewing machine to stitch newspaper pages into large sheets of gift wrap. Ribbons made from old VHS tapes further highlight the recycled theme and complement the black-and-white color scheme too.
6. Playful Prints
Need a fast and easy wrapping fix? These adorable gift tags are designed to be printed right at home. For the best-looking results, use glossy photo paper for the tags and, as pictured, kraft paper for the gift wrap.
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7. Bundle Up
Squares of fabric or silk make for lovely reusable wrapping paper, especially when you start with a double-sided material that offers a contrasting color or pattern to amp up the elegant effect. Place the package in the center of the square, tie opposite ends together in a knot, and then tuck the tails of the knots underneath to complete the decorative display.
8. Drop Cloth DIY
A fabric drop cloth from the paint supply aisle at the local home improvement store can provide a surprising solution for a gift—particularly a large or oddly shaped one—that needs a festive finishing touch. Cut the cloth to size, stitch the pieces together, then decorate using paint and stencils for a holiday package that goes that extra-special mile.
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9. Photo Op
Your favorite Instagram posts can be transformed into wrapping paper that's as fun to look at as it is to create. Simply tile your photos in a photo-editing program, then print them at home. (For larger paper, take them to a copy shop or use a photo-printing service.) Trim off any white margins for a clean look.
10. Pyramid Play
Good things really do come in small packages, especially when presented in these nifty pyramid-shaped boxes, each made from just one piece of card stock and some ribbon. Print the template onto a piece of card stock, and then cut around the shape. Next, punch a few holes, fold at the lines, and tie together at the top for a final flourish. (If the DIY is just too much work for you, you can purchase these triangle favor boxes on Amazon.)
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11. Bow Show
To craft this "scrappy" gift topper, cut fabric scraps to the same width and sew their ends together. What a great way to upcycle materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill! For the full tutorial, visit Simple Simon and Co.
12. Joyful Jar
Marvels with a million uses, mason jars are genius containers for gift-giving too. Fill them with cookies, hot cocoa mix, sewing supplies, or just about anything else that can fit inside. Top it all off by covering the lid with a circle of cheerful fabric secured with a rubber band or ribbon.
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13. Snowy Stamps
With a stamp and an ink pad, plain gift wrap or brown kraft paper can be upgraded into sweet and personalized packaging in almost no time. To make your own inexpensive custom stamp, use a lino cutting tool to carve a shape into an eraser.
14. Beeswax Wraps
If you’re giving the gift of homemade cookies or treats, beeswax wraps are not only a friendlier choice for the environment, but they’re made to keep food fresh. You can purchase pre-made wraps, or you can make your own—which enables you to make them the size and fabric you want.
All you need to make these wraps are cotton fabric, beeswax, pine resin, and jojoba oil—follow the instructions on Chef Sous Chef, and you’ll have plenty of DIY wraps ready for your gifts in no time.
These wraps aren’t only for food, they’re great to wrap a bottle of wine, or small gifts for any cooking enthusiasts you want to spoil.
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15. Gift Buckets
Who do you know that has a million home or garden projects? Give these folks a practical gift, using a 5-gallon bucket as the gift basket. On its own, it lacks the pizzazz of a beautifully wrapped gift. But when filled with thoughtful DIY items that are nicely arranged, this bucket looks pretty darn good—and the bucket will undoubtedly come in handy for one project or another. If you want it to look a bit nicer, you can always add some nice wallpaper or hodgepodge to the outside of the bucket.
Next, fill the bucket with paint brushes, hand tools, duct tape, a level, knee pads, seeds, or any other small items that your gift recipient needs. Need more room? Size up to a bigger bucket.
16. Cozy Scarf
Who doesn't love receiving gifts that help them keep them warm? Gift a gift of socks, a scarf, a hat, and hand warmers, and use the largest item to wrap up the rest. A good scarf never goes out of style, and can usually be folded neatly around a few other items. Use some twine to keep everything in place, and add a little flourish using some cedar sprigs, an ornament, or a bow.
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17. Plastic Bag Basket
Many of us have an incredible supply of plastic grocery store bags that take up a lot of space in the cupboard. If you’ve made the switch to reusable bags, turn those plastic bags into a charming DIY gift basket instead.
These baskets are perfect for the eco-warrior on your list, you can fill it with reusable goods, earth-friendly products, or other DIY creations. If you take the time to weave it properly, these baskets can be stuffed full without losing their structure. Find the tutorial on the Rad Megan website.
18. Well-Loved Clothing
Let’s face it, clothes don’t last forever. Whether the zipper is broken, you’ve worn a hole into your favorite sweater, or your little one has outgrown another adorable outfit, you can always upcycle these materials into custom wrapping for the next gift-giving occasion. All it takes is a little ingenuity and some simple cutting and sewing, and you can tailor-make a gift bag that reflects the recipient. Get started quickly with this tutorial from Eco Thrifty Living.
Use your imagination and make a gift bag out of old jeans to hold your gift, but leave the pockets intact, so you can fill them with small DIY materials for the handyman or handywoman on your list.
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19. Chalkboard Gift Tins
Customize an old tin with a personal message. An appropriate tin—easy to find in thrift shops—and a can of chalkboard paint are all you need to accomplish this makeover. (If you want to push the “easy” button on this packaging, Endlessly reusable, the package is a gift in itself.
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20. Repurposed Tissue Box
Reuse a tissue box for a quick, uncomplicated gift wrap. Many of the square decorator boxes are pretty enough to use without being covered. Just attach a large bow or other adornment over the hole in the top, and the gift will be as easy to open as it was to wrap.
21. Dressy Lunch Bags
Dress up the classic lunch bag to make a rustic and handsome little pouch. Some twine or ribbon, a festive stamp, and/or and a sprig of greenery make this ubiquitous staple special.
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22. Gift Canisters
Cover a coffee can or oatmeal canister in construction paper or felt. Decorate it with any bits and pieces you have around, and top it with a bow to create the perfect gift box for baked goods, small toys, or a homemade game.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!