Oh, how we love tearing the wrapping paper from an eagerly-awaited gift. But although beautifully gift wrapped Christmas presents look gorgeous under the tree, bring a smile to the faces of your loved ones and are bloody good fun to unwrap, they do leave rather a lot of wastage don’t they?
To cut down on the amount of paper being used, and novelty decorations being bought, we’ve put together some top tips for making your Christmas gift wrapping more eco-friendly.
Swap real ribbons for drawn on versions
If you’re suspicious that all of the ribbons and gift tags that you plan on lovingly buying and wrapping your Christmas gifts in, will likely be thrown in the bin after being opened, there’s a way to decorate your presents in a more sustainable way.
Instead of accumulating more waste with present-toppers, why not whip out a Sharpie and simply scribble on a fun bow, ribbon or gift tag design instead? It’s more budget-friendly, too!
Forage for decorations
Present trimmings gathered from nature not only look impressive, they’re easy to source too. If you’ve invested in a real Christmas tree, the easiest option is to take a few small cuttings from a selection of innocuous branches – spruce, pine and fir cuttings look best paired with simple brown paper and natural twine.
Even if you don’t have a real tree, alternative trimmings can be foraged from your garden or a local park – try holly leaves, pine cones, winterberries, a sprig from a pretty shrub, or even dried leaves.
Look in your kitchen cupboards
Pssst: another set of beautiful trimmings are hiding in your kitchen cupboard. Grab some sprigs of rosemary first: these not only look great but smell fantastic, too. Next up, dry some orange slices and pair these with a few cinnamon sticks – again, this is fragrant wrapping at its best.
You could even swap out the gift tags for gingerbread alternatives: before baking, use a drinking straw to cut out a hole which will allow the tags to be strung onto gifts, and once they’re finished either leave them plain or label with writing icing.
Aim for zero waste
If you’re left with a small section at the end of a roll of wrapping paper, don’t throw it out. Instead, layer your scraps – either by looping one small section on top of another, or by creating a half-and-half effect. This is a simple trick but it instantly upgrades your wrapping game.
It also means you won’t waste any paper – a problem which can be especially frustrating if you have spent hard-earned cash on a beautiful roll of paper (or accidentally cut a piece that’s too small).
Reuse and recycle
There should be no shame in collecting old wrapping supplies and reusing them later on – especially if you’ve been the recipient of carefully wrapped gifts complete with real ribbon and expensive paper.
Look out for embellishments that you might collect in everyday life, too – for example, luxury shopping purchases sometimes come wrapped in scented tissue paper and ribbon. If you’re feeling especially resourceful, you could use pages from newspapers or magazines as wrapping paper, and even plain brown paper bags can be reused in place of a roll of gift wrap.
Use eco-friendly supplies
If you really want to cut down on waste, consider using fabric gift bags instead of paper. If you’re up for a bit of sewing, drawstring pouches are easy to make and can be reused by the person receiving your gift – either again as a gift bag, or for travel and storage.
Alternatively you could try Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping tradition using fabric cloths that are made to be reused – just include a note with the gift with instructions on how to reuse the cloths. If you do opt for paper wrapping, choose recycled and recyclable options over anything else (for example, glitter and foil covered cards and wrapping paper are said to be non-recyclable, as they can clog recycling machinery).
Ditch gift wrap for old newspapers
If you’re the kind of person who already gets a newspaper delivered daily, or even weekly, you could hold on to a few and use them for giftwrap instead. The monochrome print looks striking next to red ribbon or gold twine, and this means that you don’t have to make a last minute dash to the shops to fight your way through the Christmas crowds, too.
Main image: Juliana Malta / Additional words: Helen Booth