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10 Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

While Christmas is, to many, the most wonderful time of the year, it is also the most wasteful. We might be tired of hearing it: “the amount of wrapping paper thrown away at Christmas un the UK alone would stretch to the moon”. However, the fact that we still are buying paper to cover an item and then throw it into the bin is, quite frankly, outrageous and begs the thought “do 5 minutes of mystery justify the amount of paper we waste”? We don’t think so.

Although it is true that we are, as a nation, getting better at recycling, sentimentality and aesthetics often cloud our vision and for a couple of weeks we forget what we have worked for so hard all year. Therefore, more and more people are coming up with alternative ways of participating in the gift giving tradition without sending so much paper to landfill. We want to share our favourites with you.



The Japanese style of gift wrapping, grocery shopping or goods transporting is called Furoshiki. It consists of using fabric and steps similar to origami to make the fabric fulfil your needs. You can simply wrap something, or you can search for tutorials on how to make a bag, wine carrier, lunch box, etc.


Image Credit: Man Made DIY


You don’t necessarily have to use tartan, simply source material from an old shirt, dress, t-shirt or skirt you no longer use or don’t fit. In this instance, the parcel is held together with a bow tie attached to elastic.

tartan fabric

Image Credit: Sweet Paul Mag


You can make pouches or bags out of jumpers. This one is made of a sleeve. As the sleeve is circular, you will only have to close off the bottom of the pouch, and you can seal the top with a ribbon.

pouch made out of jumper

Image Credit: A Homemade Living


Newspaper gift bags

If you use public transport to commute to work, chances are there will be free newspapers on the bus or train. Some commuters even buy the newspaper and leave it on the train when they get off. Why not make the most of its fleeting life? They are very simple to make, just use a couple of sheets to add sturdiness and add a fold to add depth and allow it to hold the item comfortably. You can add half a paper doily at the top to make it look more chic.

newspaper bag

Image Credit: Simple Living Sherrie

Newspaper pouch

Similar to the gift bag, but this time make a pouch for smaller items. This example has punched a couple of holes at the top and sealed it with a ribbon.

newspaper pouch

Image Credit: Laws of Life

Cereal box bag

Grated this option might be controversial; but really, how invested will a baby or toddler be in the wrapping paper once the present is out? If you are one to give gifts to teachers, this is also a cool option. How cute would those individual cereal packs be!?

cereal box gift bag

Image Credit: Social Capitalista


Old wrapping paper

Keep the wrapping paper you receive gifts in and reuse it at a later date. These pouches look rather cool. Instead of cello tape, you could opt for washi tape, which is also paper-based.

reused wrapping paper

Image Credit: Omiyage Blogs


If you are a fan of brown paper packages, why not use old pattern paper? They are easy to find it charity shops. Because of their texture, they can also be used as tissue paper. If your friend is an avid sewer, they might even get some use out of it!

reuse sewing patterns as wrapping paper

Image Credit: Pinterest

Paper cup

It is very likely you have paper cups left over from that kiddies party to had last summer. Maybe you had a BBQ themed birthday party, or your mum is one of those who hoard things “just in case”. Time to use them up! These repurposed cups look very fancy, but the little ones can have a go at decorating them nan and granddad or the next door neighbours.

paper cups as gift boxes

Image Credit: Paper Mash Blogs


If you are giving a special someone a special something, we love the look of this walnut! A pendant, some earrings, a RING… You’re welcome.

walnut as a gift box

Image Credit: Es La Moda

What did you think of these alternatives? Would you consider swapping Christmas wrapping paper for a more sustainable option? Dare we say it, would you take the bags with you after the gift has been opened?! Let us know in the comments!

Zoe Allison

Zoe Allison

Writer and expert