How to: Green Gift Wrapping

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 Up to your elbows in gift-wrapping yet? Putting it off to the last minute? It seems like people either love or hate the ritual of wrapping holiday gifts and I am squarely on the side that absolutely loves it. I inherited this from my Mom, one the best gift wrappers I’ve ever seen. (She gained her precision from her first job, working the customer gift-wrap counter at a local department store). I strived to match her square corners and seamless wrapping and thus began one of my (unattainable) obsessions – wrapping the perfect gift!

Unfortunately, gift-wrapping and all of its accoutrements tends to clash with my attempts to put my eco-conscious ideals into action. However, take heart, you don’t need to spend any money on a new, color coordinated packaging theme this year. It’s easy to save a little green while being green too. Here’s the wht guide to beautiful, eco-friendly gift-wrapping!

First, take stock of everything you have. There’s a good chance you don’t even realize how much leftover/gently used supplies you have. Pull out your brown paper bags, your stash of pretty, shopping trip gift bags, pretty fabric remnants, scarves, etc. Then use them! Make sure each package has at least one or two recycled elements.

Throw the thought of a perfect color scheme out the window. Use all of your left over, mismatched wraps and have some fun mixing and matching prints and colors. Another possibility, use the remains of one color wrap/bow/ribbon for co-workers, another for family or your book club friends, etc. (This is really helpful when gathering a group of gifts in a hurry).

There’s no law that everything must be wrapped in red, green, silver and gold. Use left over solid wraps of any color or even simple patterns. Tie them all together with a traditional colored bow or ribbon.

Brown paper bags are elegant. I think a neatly wrapped brown bag package is a simple and beautiful look. It’s the perfect background for that collection of ribbon you have that never worked with your store bought wrapping paper. Twiggy ribbons, fabric matte ribbons, all those ribbons you couldn’t throw away from fancy stores that wrap purchases – tie them to your brown bag wrapped gift and it’s a work of art. Bonus: No need for tags either. Use a felt tip marker to write a name tag (or add some doodles if you’re the artistic type).

Use your backyard. Pine cones, evergreen leaves or branches and twigs (pick only from the ground, not from live plants) all give a natural, wintery feel. I love that these materials can look clean and modern or classic country depending on your style and choice of wrap.

Here’s a not-so-secret tip: if the recipient is under 12 years of age, they could care less about the wrapping. Use more offbeat supplies for wrapping kids gifts. Last week’s Sunday comics, old (or never hung) posters, or pages from magazines can all be colorful and fun wrapping options for kids.

Buy a gift that doubles as the wrap. Try an inexpensive tote suitable for groceries and errands and use it as a gift bag (like Stef’s Recycled Market Tote from our gift week, do-gooder picks). Stuff it with crumpled (read: reused) tissue paper of all colors and sizes.

Buy some vintage scarves from thrift stores or yard sales. Wash (and press if you’re a perfectionist, I never bother) and use it as gift wrap (if it’s a sheer scarf, use one or two sheets of your recycled tissue paper box as a liner). You can also use a scarf as a ribbon or bow on small gifts. 

Well, look at that! You have a beautiful collection of uniquely wrapped and eco-friendly gifts. Now go relax with a hot toddy or something.

We’re always looking for new ideas! If you have an idea for recycling wrapping supplies or just a tip for easy wrapping, please share it with us.


  • tyna

    Tyna is a former editor of we heart this that worries about becoming a crazy cat lady, reads at least a book a week, checks in at a Flyers fan forum every morning and is forever organizing her closets and drawers. skin tone: NW 20/25 skin type: combination favorite beauty product: eye shadows and lip balms


  1. Tyna is the best gift wrapper out there! My aunt growing up was a master wrapper and she passed her skills down to my sister. I got nothing! I do love to wrap gifts, they just don’t look that hot. But my thinking is, its going to be ripped off anyway so people may ohh and ahh at nicely wrapped presents but we all know that all anyone cares about is what’s inside!

  2. I’m kind of cheating because its not my idea, I read it in Martha Stewart =) but it’s a great idea! Put gift wrap through a paper shredder and use it to pad gifts your mailing, or to be the fluff inside of a gift box.
    You pick your colors and it saves money!

    I’ve wrapped gifts in junk mail before.It’s usually colorful and hey the person getting the gift may get a $5 pizza coupon too =)

  3. Yeah, Tyna is a kick ass wrapper (not rapper-big difference). I’m an ok wrapper (but quite the rapper!), I’ve got good color combos and alternative bows but where I lack is the execution. I always have messy corners and use too much tape. Tyna on the other hand-her corners are immaculate! Mom Werner-you taught your daughter well.

  4. Thanks ladies, I try! (to wrap that is, you Never want to see me attempting to rap – it’s embarrassing for all parties involved.

  5. If you have ever been to a Target with Tyna you already know that no trip is usually less than 2 hours. Now add to that her obsession with the perfect wrapping paper and coordinating items…. You start said trip at 7:30 and you soon find the nice people at the Target telling you that you have to leave because the store is closing for the night. She takes those tubes of paper and pretty little bows or trinkets and turns them into perfect packages and makes it look so simple, just like our mom. I almost break a sweat trying to copy the technique but I just can’t.

  6. Hey all, Christy cleared up something for me about her Martha Stewart tip: you Put USED gift wrap through a paper shredder and use it to pad gifts your mailing. This makes so much more sense now!

  7. I am pretty darned good at wrapping. In Oxford, Mississippi, where I went to college all the stores on the cute little downtown square will wrap for free anytime of the year. I learned to make amazing bows watching them. So anytime I see spools of ribbon on sale at Wal-mart or Hobby lobby, I stock up!

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