All wrapped up

Dec. 24, 2022, 1:41 p.m. | By Alexander Liu | 1 year, 5 months ago

It’s time to shake things up this holiday season

Gifts wrapped with wrapping paper alternatives Photo courtesy of Maggie Megosh.

Festive wrapping paper is a holiday season classic for presents of all shapes and sizes. But, it's also expensive, overdone and terrible for the environment. Wrapping paper is single use, and is made from materials that are difficult to recycle. 

Fortunately, there are tons of great looking, eco-friendly alternatives.

Paper alternatives 

Using newspaper is one easy way to wrap presents. You probably have tons of old papers lying around your house, and with a few simple steps, you can wrap your present in a cheap and environmentally conscious way. Even better, if you have a few basic tools at home, you can make your old newspapers into a colorful gift-topper.

Grocery bags from a supermarket also work great, as they are easy to cut and shape to your liking. Bonus: many stores provide bags with holiday themed designs on them, so there's no need to do your own decorating. After you’ve retrieved a bag, follow any guide online to wrap up your present!

In the same vein, you can use old sheet music, maps, magazines, old calendars and wallpaper to create a distinctive look for your presents. Almost any flexible, flat material will work, and recycling previous materials also saves you a trip to the store. Even better, by mixing and matching materials you can create unique patterns that are appropriate for almost any occasion.


Fabrics are another alternative to wrapping paper. Have an old scarf or t-shirt lying around? That would make a great wrapping material (given it’s properly cleaned beforehand). Simply fold it around your gift, and finish it off with a fancy furoshiki-knot.

Container solutions 

Besides just wrapping up your present, consider using an old basket or crate instead. Just make sure the crate is large (and clean) enough for you to use. Old containers can also serve double duty as a container for your present making for convenient gifting.

After locating an old crate or basket big enough for your present, fill it up with a colored tissue paper of your choice around your gift. As an optional step, transform a ribbon of your choice into a flashy topper. 

For smaller gifts, consider using reusable jars, tins, or cans. With a few decorations on the lid, a ribbon tied around the top and colorful tissue paper stuffed inside, jars make a unique wrapping paper alternative. Furthermore, consider following a theme for all your gifts in a jar for a cohesive, convenient gift. 

Wrapping paper isn’t the only way to package presents this holiday season. By using a little ingenuity, you can transform household materials into perfect, environmentally friendly alternatives. It’s time to wrap up our wasteful use of wrapping paper. 

Last updated: Dec. 24, 2022, 1:51 p.m.

Alexander Liu. Hi, I'm Alex (he/him) and I'll be a staff writer for SCO this year. I'm passionate about public policy and international relations. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and watching terrible rom-coms. More »

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