All of us want to make the world more sustainable. This festive season can be started by zero waste wrapping.
While many brands and companies are thinking more about where they source their paper and wrapping from, opting for more recycled and brown paper wrapping ideas, it’s still down to us to make sure we’re being as mindful as possible with our choices.
If we can all avoid buying new if we don’t need too, papers that can’t be recycled (that’s anything with glitter on it) and tags that include one-use plastic, we can at least take some positive steps towards being kinder to the planet this Christmas and still execute many of our Christmas ideas.
Wrapping gift wrap is recyclable 100%
Gifts can be wrapped in either brown paper or fabric offcuts. These options will allow you to pick sustainable wrapping alternatives. Think outside of the box. Every year Christmas Eve boxes are more common. Each gift that is inserted inside doesn’t have to be wrapped individually.
Molly Mahon, founder of Molly Mahon(opens new tab) says, “Rather than buying rolls of traditional wrapping paper, it’s fun to have a go at making your own.’
‘If you give someone a present wrapped in a piece of paper you’ve made- it’s already special before they’ve opened it! You can be sure that your printing efforts will not be thrown away by the recipient, but treasured alongside the gift’
‘Our Block Print Gift Set (opens in new tab) is a veritable box of possibilities, containing everything required for creating your own block-printed Christmas stationery, including plain wrapping paper, card sets and gift tags, plus water-based, Soil Association-approved paints, stipplers, and three of our brilliant Christmas-themed block prints.’
With so many possible zero waste gift wrapping ideas, you’ll never look back to traditional methods again!
1. Draw on brown paper
Create a super-cute ‘driving home for Christmas’ wrap. Start by wrapping your gift in recyclable brown paper and then simply draw your own unique vehicle design directly onto the paper using marker or metallic pens. If you’re not a confident drawer, sketch out your drawing in pencil first, then go over it in black marker once you’re happy with the design.
Pop a small wire Christmas tree on the top of each gift and tie with cotton stripy string for a festive finishing touch.
2. Utilise fabric off cuts
Put fabric remnants to good use and create linen cloth-tied presents. Adorn with clear baubles filled with winter foliage for a fresh take on seasonal wrapping.
Known as Furoshiki, it’s the traditional Japanese art of wrapping and transporting gifts with squares of silk or cotton. While it can look pretty amazing (once you nail the knack of it) it does take a few goes to get it right, and you will have to either ask for the fabric back, or encourage your recipient to reuse it.
Fiona Austin, Founder of Cabban & Co (opens in new tab), says, ‘Using fabric is the most stylish and sustainable alternative and there are a few options out there. Here at Cabban & Co we use a unique combination of cotton squares and ribbon.’
‘The ribbons are tied, not the fabric; meaning you get a clean, traditional wrapping paper & ribbon look. We have also thoughtfully provided an ‘Etiquette Tag’ to ask the receiver to “return the present to the giver, with thanks” so you can guarantee their use, time and time again.’
3. Include old scripts from books to your wrap
To make gorgeous wrapping paper, use old sheets of music or pages from books. You can add a unique touch to gift tags by combining scripts in different sizes.
You can find pre-loved books at car boot and charity shops. Use a craft knife to remove the spine from the book.
You can add glamour to the simple wrap by using silk, velvet or chiffon.
4. Recycling paper bags
You can make gifts more elegant by using white or gold striped paper bags. Punch a row along the edge and tie a ribbon of gold velvet ribbon, velvet ribbon or another contrasting colour of velvet ribbon. This will give your gifts a finished touch. A few hand-written tags can be tied around the edges.
These small gift bags can be used to set up gifts for the table, or as Advent gifts during the countdown to Christmas. With so many different use, they are a great staple to have on hand so it’s worth stocking up on ones such as these Striped candy bags, £4 for 100(opens new tab), Amazon.
5. Any unused lining paper can be recycled
You can use paper as a foil to a glittering, spray-painted fern leaf. You can spray-paint the leaf with gold paint and attach it to a piece of velvet ribbon or a buckle made from golden metal. It will add a seasonal touch to your gift.
And don’t stop at lining paper, leftover wallpaper of any designA great alternative to buying new wrap is using a pattern.
6. Give paper maché boxes a twist
Embellish paper maché boxes with lengths of hessian and add sprigs or mini wreaths of rosemary for a festive look that is natural and easy to achieve.
Begin by cutting 2 pieces of hessian long enough to wrap around the sides of each box. Next, attach the top to both ends.
To make a label, first cut out a circle from card. The label should be placed in the middle of the attached hemp. You can write your giftee’s name with a pen.
Finally gently bend some rosemary sprigs to form a mini wreath shape and secure the ends with florist’s wire, attaching to the top of the written label.
7. Design your own design
There’s nothing as satisfying and joyful as designing and making your own wrap for enveloping gifts this Christmas. Indian block printing techniques have been used for years. You don’t need any special tools to learn how it works.
Molly Mahon – Founder of Molly Mahon says, ‘The paper in our wrapping paper & cards is made from waste garments – unwanted fabric remnants and waste garments from the fashion industry which is then turned into quality paper by pulping then pressing them into beautiful, cotton paper sheets.’
‘One of the great joys of block printing is its huge gifting potential. At Christmas, I buy rolls of recycled brown paper and the children and I go to town. There is nothing more heartfelt than a piece of hand-printed wrap – or even a simple, printed card. Our wooden print blocks are expertly hand carved from Indian rosewood and make lovely gifts or stocking fillers in themselves.’
8. It’s a great choice to have a festive favorite
If you’re inspired by the block printing techniques in our last idea, but really need to keep the costs down this Christmas, then look no further than to the humble spud. The star of Christmas dinner is the potato, but you can use it as a block for festive patterns on paper.
Cut your potato in half. Use a sharp knife for any extra paint. Use the following paint to finish. Anhenian Black chalk paint, £23.95 for 1L(opens new tab)Annie Sloan, get printing!
9. Opt for a Santa-style bag
An old pillowcase can be transformed into a handy bag to store your stuff! You can turn the pillowcase upside down and sew a hem around 4cm from the top. The raw edges can be folded in half. Sew them together. Create a drawstring channel if you’re feeling whizzy or otherwise use ribbon to tie the top shut once your gifts are inside.
It is possible to add bobble trim or pom-poms. You can also stencil snowflake designs with chalk paint.
If the thought of finding the sewing machines makes you feel shivery, Olivia Walter is the Marketing Executive for Paperchase(opens new tab)The following suggests an alternate. ‘Not the best at wrapping? No problem! Our reusable drawstring gifting bags, £12 for 2 (opens in new tab), are just what you need. Designed to bring joy for years to come, they have been crafted from durable cotton or recycled polyester and are a great way to gift sustainably – simply pop in your pressie and tie (no tape required!).’
What is a good substitute for Christmas wrapping paper?
You can wrap gifts with anything. Use any leftover fabric, papers, and gift bags from prior gifting.
Olivia says ‘Paperchase have plenty of sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping this holiday season. Our Kraft range is the eco superstar of our wrap world. Recycled and recyclable, all papers, bags and accessories have been thoroughly considered to be naturally better for giftees and the planet (while still brimming with holiday cheer, of course!).’
‘Plus our festive Kraft roll wrap is 100% recyclable and FSC approved, so won’You won’t harm the environment. And, we’re pulling back on plastic and all of our festive roll wraps are protected with fully recyclable sugar cane film, perfect for those who wish to have a conscious Christmas.’
How do you wrap the gift?
Olivia: ‘One of the most eco-friendly ways to wrap this festive season is with our fabulous Seed Paper products. From gift bags to boxes, tags and cards, this range is 100% biodegradable with a secret surprise. Just rip up the paper when you’re done, pop into soil and watch beautiful blooms grow –gift wrap that gives back! A favorite of little children is the Reindeer Seed Paper Card. The paper holds carrot seeds that can be grown, ready for when the reindeers return next year.’
Wrap gifts with fabric for a unique look
Fiona says, ‘While fabric gift wrap is an investment initially, Christmas is the ideal time to start as there are so many presents to be wrapped and it’It’s easy to return it. The investment will pay off within a couple of years.’
“Fabric gift wrap has been used for centuries in Japan. Japan has a long tradition of returning wrapped gifts to their recipients. You will need to request it back before fabric wrapping can be accepted in the UK. Cabban & Co. has provided an Etiquette Tag for free that can be used to explain.