Ask the Readers: Ideas for Frugal & Green Gift Wrapping

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Cute as this wrapping paper is, it’s not a particularly sustainable or frugal choice for gift-giving. One of my frustrations in recent years is the sheer volume of waste that goes along with the holiday season.

Surely there are other ways to beautifully package the presents we buy for our loved ones! Homemade wrapping paper, newspapers, reusable gift bags… the possibilities are endless!

My question to you:

What are the frugal, green and creative ways that you wrap gifts? Share your best ideas!

Image by Chris.P


  1. Sarah M says:

    We have always done reusable gift bags, i.e. homemade fabric bags (basically a pillow case) and a ribbon as a tie. We also made gift tags that have contact paper over them so wiht a dry erase marker the name can be changed year to year! We also do this for birthdays, etc. but for special friends or families I will make their bag to go home with them. :)

    Sarah M

  2. Kathleen says:

    Brown paper bags from the grocery store. Amazing things can be done.

  3. Jen says:

    I often buy re-usable grocery bags and wrap in those like a gift bag.

  4. Christine says:

    Often, largely because I am lazy and really bad at stocking any kind of gift “wrap” things in our house, we take old used up coloring book pages, tape them together and wrap a present. Generally people like seeing the kids artwork, it resuses the pages before recycling them (although maybe the tape interferes with recycling, hmmm), it’s cheap, and it keeps coloring books from piling up.

  5. Kellan says:

    I make reusable tote bags that the person can use for pretty anything later. It’s sort of like giving two gifts in one. They’re really simple to make and people really seem to like them.

  6. Jessie says:

    I’ve used all sorts of things as wrapping paper: wallpaper, pages of old children’s books, movie posters, grocery bags, multiple layers of tissue paper. (Most of these things I got for free or at garage sales or thrift stores.)

    I much prefer opening gifts that have been wrapped up in paper to gifts put in bags (disposable or reusable). It’s more fun! And you can always do crafts with the leftover paper. (Collages, Christmas cards for next year, origami or paper weaving, etc, etc.)
    .-= Jessie´s last blog ..Thanksgiving 2010 =-.

  7. Christina says:

    I plan on making color-coordinated drawstring bags for our kids’ gifts, which we’ll re-use every Christmas (making about 5 bags in each color, in different sizes). I may experiment with different snaps, elastic and velcro closures, just to make opening more drawn-out, but I always get way more excited about what’s IN the packaging personally.

    In the meantime, I compulsively save, re-fold, and re-use every gift bag, ribbon, tissue paper and wrapping paper that comes our way, and when they finally are too tattered or ripped to be re-used, they get recycled. Since our wedding and baby shower, we haven’t needed ANY bags, and since we get a new supply at every birthday and Christmas, we just keep folding them and storing them, then re-using them.


  8. Brandy F says:

    my fav to use is reusable bags that they can take shopping with them afterwards for years :)

  9. stacey says:

    I work at an engineering firm so I take old or draft large drawings and let the kids go to town on the other side. FYI toilet paper rolls make excellent stamps and can be shifted into many shapes (triangle for a tree… hearts, stars, or just round for an ornament, etc.). Also toy cars make great paint tracks :)

  10. Kathryn says:

    DH’s family has a long tradition of reusing Christmas paper from one year to the next. The grownups open our gifts carefully to minimize ripping, and my MIL gathers up the salvageable paper and stashes it all in a big drawer to be used the following year(s). We also reuse gift tags and/or make them from the fronts of Christmas cards we received the previous year. What’s really fun about this tradition is that stories get associated with certain tags or pieces of paper, and we share them with the children as we unwrap gifts (e.g., “This is the paper your daddy used to wrap the first present he gave me after we got married.”).

  11. Amanda Kim says:

    I love to make bows out of any recycled paper. Drawing my kids made, scraps of paper, magazine pages, even junk mail make great bows!

    This year I made paper with my girls in the summer with herbs and flowers from the garden. I cut them into cute shapes for gift tags.

    I also saved all my girls painting from the summer and used that to wrap all the smaller presents!
    .-= Amanda Kim´s last blog ..Holiday Card Holder =-.

  12. E.E. says:

    We use all sorts of things. I think I almost take more pleasure in the wrapping than in the gift-giving… Old maps from road atlases, fliers and posters from a touring music show we’re part of, tissue paper, Chinese take-out containers, cardboard ice cream pints (washed and dried, of course), newspapers and comics, pencil sketches from my college Art days, food storage bags, scrapbook paper, card stock, fabric scraps, little bits of leftover wrapping paper all taped together, plastic grocery bags, baskets, wide ribbons, old envelopes, cereal boxes, magazine pages, old sheet music, catalogue pages, pages from thrift store coffee table books, lunch bags, glass jars… Shall I go on? :o ) Never mind all of the great things you can use for gift tags and gift toppers!

  13. Barbara says:

    what great ideas! I’ve saved Christmas cards year after year with no particular use for them, now I’m making them into tags!!

    I had thought of making fabric drawstring bags, but then I saw this idea and this is what I’m doing this year: Green Grocery Bag Challenge:
    Lot’s of patterns for making reusable bags. I do like the idea Christina had about making bags to be specifically reused each year. I will probably do this for the children in the family. At least now I have a use for that fabric stash!!

  14. Andrea says:

    Wow! I’m impressed with everyone’s creativity!

    My mom took either brown or white paper and had us put red and green handprints on it as kids to send to far away relatives such as Grandma so they could see how we grew! We often used brown paper bags as our background. As we got older, this developed into a day of elaborate paper decorating, often on pre-cut paper pieces, using puff paints we’d bought all year on good sales. We made potato stamps for repetative patterns and drew detailed scenes for others. Very fun to do as a family while drinking hot cocoa.

    I also love when the wrapping is part of the gift–blankets and diaper pins for baby showers, baskets and boxes for home organizing, maybe even cloth napkins and tablecloths.

    I can tell you what I DON”T like, and that is buying the item for someone and giving it in a paper sack or the bag it came in. My in-laws do this, and it seems so impersonal! I do understand, though. Sometimes it is better to just give the gift than have it sit in your closet for six months or more!

  15. stacy says:

    #1 Complete Gift Wrap that is eco-friendly AND user-friendly … Midori-dori.

  16. We give a lot of gifts in gift bags that can be reused. We also keep all the gift bags we ourselves receive to use again the following year (or occasion).
    .-= Mama Kelly aka Jia´s last blog ..Save Money at the Supermarket by Not Going =-.


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