Holiday gifts can leave the gift recipient with piles of hard-to-recycle wrapping paper, bows, and bags. But showing loved ones you care shouldn’t burden them with overfilled trash bins. To help you ensure that your gifts don’t create a lot of extra waste this holiday season, we’ve assembled a list of low-waste wrapping solutions you can buy or make yourself.

Buy It: Reusable Fabric Gift Wraps

Furoshiki gift wrap
Image courtesy of Wrappr

For a pretty and paper-free gift wrapping solution, look no further than these lovely Furoshiki reusable fabric gift wraps from Wrappr.

Each decorative wrapping scarf can be tied up in a variety of ways for the look that suits you best. Select from a wide range of organic cotton, recycled polyester, silk, or satin wraps with colorful designs from a variety of artists. Check out Wrapper’s how-to section for gift wrapping and tutorials to get you started.


DIY It: No-Sew Fabric Gift Bags

Image courtesy of Lisa /
Image courtesy of Lisa/We Are Scout

These reusable fabric gift bags can be made in mere minutes with a few basic, low-cost materials, including decorative fabric and double-sided fabric tape. There’s no sewing required., so you can easily pull this off even if you’re not the best with a needle and thread.

After giving your gifts in these cute bags, friends and family can save them for future gift-giving or reuse them around the house — making them almost zero waste.

For step-by-step instructions on how to make these yourself, head to We Are Scout.

DIY It: Tea Towel Gift Wrap

Image courtesy of Abby Rudakov/Things for Boys
Image courtesy of Abby Rudakov/Things for Boys

Making the wrapping part of the gift itself is a great way to ensure nothing goes to waste.

We love this cute tea towel wrapping idea from Abby Rudakov of Things for Boys — it’s perfect for cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and all those special gifts for the foodie in your life.

“Paper wrapping always makes me sad when I see the huge pile after everyone has unwrapped their gifts!” Rudakov said. Her inventive wrapping solution takes only a few minutes to complete, and your friends are sure to love it.

For step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself, head to Things for Boys.

Buy It: Seed Paper Gift Tags

plantable seed gift tags
Plantable seed paper gift tags. Image courtesy of DaisyGiggles, Etsy

For a low-impact way to mark your gifts, consider gift tags made from plantable seed paper like these tags from DaisyGiggles on Etsy. The tags are embedded with a mixture of wildflower seeds and will bloom after planted.

You can find a variety of styles and shapes available from Etsy retailers to perfectly match your gift wrapping style.


DIY It: Shopping Bag Bows

Image courtesy of Katrina Tauchen/
Image courtesy of Katrina Tauchen/Splash of Something

You’re likely doing a bit of shopping this season, and shopping bags can be challenging to recycle in some communities.

Make use of your shopping leftovers by transforming those bags into gift bows for a unique wrapping solution without the waste.

Get step-by-step instructions on how to make these yourself at Splash of Something.

DIY It: Shredded Paper Box Filler

Image courtesy of Andi Jenkins/All Put Together
Image courtesy of Andi Jenkins/All Put Together

Tissue paper can be tough to recycle and why spend the money on something that’s just going to be thrown away? Take a cue from All Put Together blogger Andi Jenkins and ditch the waste by subbing out tissue paper for box filler made from old magazines you don’t want anymore. Just shred the pages for a colorful and unique way to cushion your gift.

“Shredded magazines are now my go-to gift box filler, and recipients always think it’s such a great idea!” Jenkins said.

For more ideas on using shredded magazines, visit All Put Together.

Buy It: Recyclable Wrapping Paper

Wrappily recyclable holiday gift wrapping paper
Image courtesy of Wrappily

If you prefer wrapping paper, Wrapping paper that contains glitter, plastic coatings or decorations, or metallic finishes can’t be recycled. For this type of gift wrap, the most sustainable option is to reuse it as many times as possible. But ultimately, it becomes waste in the landfill.

If you’d like a less wasteful wrapping paper, you might consider Wrappily. Their newsprint gift wrap comes in a range of festive holiday designs, printed with soy-based ink. And the paper is free of free of chemical sealers and laminates. It’s recyclable and also safe to put in the backyard compost bin after you’ve used it.


DIY It: Old Magazine Gift Wrap

Image courtesy of Lucy Fairweather/Fair Ivy
Image courtesy of Lucy Fairweather/Fair Ivy

For a gift wrapping solution that’s low-waste and virtually free, try making bright-colored wrapping paper from old magazines like Fair Ivy blogger Lucy. All you need is a magazine, a glue stick, and a ratty old gift box.

The resourceful crafter also uses brown paper grocery bags, embellished newsprint, and even egg cartons to wrap her gifts. Check out her post on creative gift wrapping for all kinds of ideas.

DIY It: Map Gift Wrap

Image courtesy of Rachel Hollis/The Chic
Image courtesy of Rachel Hollis/The Chic

Wrapping gifts in upcycled maps is clever and can be meaningful to your friends and family. Choose their hometown, their favorite city, or the place you first met for a fun wrapping solution that’s easy on the planet.

Get some inspiration on how to do it yourself at The Chic.

DIY It: Upcycled Box Gift Wrap

Star of the East upcycled gift box
Upcycled gift box. Image courtesy of Star of the East

Believe it or not, this pretty package was once an old shipping box. By decorating your boxes with simple embellishments like fabric, paint, and ribbon, you can easily create an eye-catching gift box that no one would guess was upcycled.

Get step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself at Star of the East.

Feature image by Lum3n from Pexels. Originally published on December 3, 2013, this article was updated in December 2022.

By Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.