• Hailey Gabron

Unconventional Gift Wrapping Methods


While many people tend to wrap holiday gifts in shopping bags and handcrafted wrapping paper, my family has taken a drastically different approach. Rather than spending time, effort and money to wrap individual gifts, my grandmother has utilized a common household staple for her decorating. Shiny, durable and fitting any form each year, tin foil is her choice to wrap all of the presents under the tree. Although commonly used to cover leftovers, it is a cheap and effective way to get the job done. This holiday season, we can all utilize unconventional decorating forms to reduce our environmental waste footprint.

Each year over Christmas, Americans waste an additional five million tons of waste, four million of which are shopping bags and wrapping paper. Instead of being recycled, most wrapping paper is simply tossed into trash bins. Common wrapping paper generally has glitter, textures, foil and bows meant to improve the gift-opening experience, but these elements generally make the paper non-recyclable. Another issue with recycling glittery wrapping paper is that it can jam up machinery in the recycling plants and lengthen the recycling chain process.

If you are set this holiday season on using wrapping paper, try uncoated paper, old newspapers or old magazines as an alternative. Uncoated paper is easier to break down in the recycling chain and to draw messages on. Drawing on uncoated paper makes the gift more personalized and reduces the need to buy additional holiday cards. Furthermore, when wrapping gifts, people tend to overuse paper. To be efficient when decorating perhaps watch a YouTube video, use a ruler and measure objects to determine the most effective practice. I encourage everyone to innovate new and creative ways to decorate gifts this winter.

If you have old boxes lying around the house, you can reuse, paint and decorate them as an alternative to wrapping paper. Additionally, many gifts come in an existing box such as Amazon packages that you could simply use and decorate. Even fabric can be a replacement for paper and can be reused long after the gift is opened. For example, in Japan, Furososhiki wraps have been used for centuries for gift wrapping. These colorful wraps are commonly patterned and add to the gift while reducing waste. Ribbons, tissue paper, twine, ribbons and dust bags are all commonly used in packaging so save them throughout the year and reuse these materials! Finally, there are reusable bags and gift bags from prior years that can be collected to decrease additional waste. At the end of the day, gifts are opened in a flash and the elaborate paper is destroyed, so if you can, try some of these ideas when gift-giving!