Holiday gift-giving can leave you with piles of hard-to-recycle wrapping paper, bows, and bags, but showing loved ones you care doesn’t have to mean overfilled trash bins. To get you started in your waste-free giving endeavors, Earth911 compiled this list of 11 alternative wrapping solutions you can buy or make yourself.

Image courtesy of BOBO
Image courtesy of BOBO

Buy It: Reusable Fabric Gift Wraps

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

Each shiny wrapping scarf can be tied up in a variety of ways for the look that suits you best, and they can be used as everything from hobo bags to halter tops after the holidays. Check out BOBO’s how-to section for gift wrapping and reuse tutorials to get you started.


Image courtesy of Lisa /
Image courtesy of Lisa /

DIY It: No-Sew Fabric Gift Bags

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 — and requires no sewing! 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 The Red Thread.

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

DIY It: Tea Towel Gift Wrap

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 — which is 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 make, and your friends are sure to love it.

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

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

Buy It: Seed Paper Gift Tags

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.


Image courtesy of Katrina Tauchen/
Image courtesy of Katrina Tauchen/

DIY It: Shopping Bag Bows

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 recycled 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.

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

DIY It: Shredded Paper Box Filler

Tissue paper can be tough to recycle and costs big bucks. Take a cue from All Put Together blogger Andi Jenkins and ditch the overfilled waste bins by subbing out tissue paper for box filler made from recycled magazines and Mod Podge.

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

For step-by-step instructions how to make this yourself, head to All Put Together.

Image courtesy of Fish Lips Paper Designs
Image courtesy of Fish Lips Paper Designs

Buy It: Recycled Wrapping Paper

If you’re looking for gift wrap that’s similar to brands you already use — with less environmental impact — consider wrapping with recycled paper.

Fish Lips Paper Designs offers a wide range of recycled wrapping paper for any occasion, including a holiday line. Their paper is made using soy-based ink and is processed without chlorine — meaning it’s safe for the compost pile.

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

DIY It: Old Magazine Gift Wrap

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.

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

For step-by-step instructions for this magazine wrap, head to Fair Ivy.

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

DIY It: Map Gift Wrap

Wrapping gifts in upcycled maps is clever as well as sentimental for 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 step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself at The Chic.

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

DIY It: Upcycled Box Gift Wrap

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

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 2018.

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.