The Best Gift-Wrapping Alternatives

Brightly colored packages tied up with string might be one of our favorite things, but it’s not very eco-friendly. Wrapping paper has its charms and promises excitement, inside and out, but ultimately, its one-time use is a colossal waste of money and trees. While some presents will always call for cheerful wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, an out-of-the-ordinary way of presenting a gift may make a bigger impression. Here’s a selection of the best gift-wrapping alternatives for keeping those special surprises secret and fun.

(Non-)Wrapping Paper

Rather than buying a roll of wrapping paper, look around to see if you have any large sheets of scrap paper handy. Newspaper is an option, especially the comics and four-color advertising sections. It may not be suitable for a wedding or anniversary gift, but it’s perfect for low-key birthdays and other celebrations. If you have a large pad of drawing paper, tear off a sheet and doodle on it, splatter it with paint, make inkblots, or otherwise decorate it with instant, handmade art. If you’re especially skilled, your friend will appreciate the additional gift of art. If you have kids, have them decorate their own wrapping paper for a friend’s birthday party.


One highlight of the holiday season is the sudden appearance of delicacies and snacks in assorted containers. Tins are always popular for food gifts, but after you finish the last cookie, piece of candy, or handful of caramel popcorn, what do you do with the tin? Oh, so many things. If your large tin storage containers held food items, give them a quick rinse in the sink with dish detergent, then dry them out quickly. They’re great for food items, of course, but really, see what you can fit in there. If the branding is too prominent or the decorations too holiday-specific, coat the tin with acrylic paint. For a fun idea, label plain large tin storage containers with stickers featuring your personal logo or brand.


If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you likely have lots of scrap fabric laying around from bigger projects. Wrap larger sheets of fabric around gifts, and tie them off with longer strips as ribbons. Is a quilt part of a larger gift? Use it as the wrapping medium. Do you have time to craft before the party? Create a fabric bag with a cinched opening or take all your scraps of fabric and sew them together into an eclectic quilt gift bag.

The Package Is Also the Gift

When thinking of the best gift-wrapping alternatives, consider making the gift the “wrapping.” For example, if you want to give the gift of garden tools, seeds, plant food, and what have you, deliver it in a large planter with a big bow. Does your friend love baking supplies? A large bowl can hold flour, sugar, extracts, chocolate chips, measuring spoons, and more. Look beyond a gift’s main purpose to see if it can serve a presentation function as well.

Leave a Reply