That’s A Wrap!

Get creative this holiday season with these alternative gift-wrapping ideas.



Green wrapping has finally come of age. Concerns about the economy and the environment are stirring the creative juices of holiday gift givers. That means commercial wrapping paper and decorations are out, and just about anything natural is in!

In addition to helping you save money and trees, green wrapping is fun. So get the kids involved and make wrapping less stressful this year.

Here’s a selection of ideas for greening your holiday gifts.

  • Cover your gifts with fabric. The possibilities are endless. Use fabric remnants that you have on hand, or tea towels, blankets, socks, pillowcases, etc. Tie with a scarf, twine, safety pins, or make a knot. You can also make the wrap part of the gift – use a golf shirt, for instance, to wrap up a book on golfing.
  • Make gift bags. Use scraps of cloth in your sewing basket, old clothes, or fabric ends from a local fabric store. Find easy instructions at
  • Reuse paper products. Instead of throwing out or recycling the mounds of paper in your house, make good use of it this holiday season. Wrap your gifts with: ∗  last year’s wall calendars – let pictures of pets, wildlife or beautiful vistas adorn your gifts, ∗  comic strips, newsprint, kraft paper, recycled tissue paper – ask your kids to draw and colour on the paper to give it a personal and festive look. For a beautiful effect, let the kids draw bows, berries, stars, and the like on the paper with a white candle or crayon, then paint over their drawing with bright watercolours to reveal their artwork, ∗  scrap wallpaper – if you don’t have any scraps around the house, check for remnants or old wallpaper books at local paint and wallpaper stores. Stick with one kind of paper, or make a collage using various textures and designs. Keep what’s left of the scraps for next year, ∗  outdated maps – good for any gift but particular
ly apt if it matches the gift – for example, a topo
graphical map for a gift of outdoor gear, ∗  pages from magazines or toy catalogue. Use photos of food to make gifts yummy-looking. Or make a collage of different images clipped from magazines, or different types and textures of paper. Use glue to hold them onto the gift, ∗  brown lunch bags – have the kids decorate with drawings, stickers, stencils or stamps (see below), ∗  kids’ art – there’s always an abundance of kids’ artwork around the house – get the kids to choose a masterpiece for each gift recipient on their list.

Top your gifts with:

  • costume jewellery – an earring that’s lost its mate, strands of imitation pearls or other types of costume jewellery will add flair to your gift. So will old buttons, which come in all shapes and sizes.
  • fabric ribbon – it’s more durable and easier to reuse. To freshen up last year’s fabric ribbon, just iron.
  • items from nature – pine cones, fir or cedar branch tips, oak or maple leaves, holly (minus the berries which are toxic to kids and pets), feathers and twigs make great toppers for your gifts. Tie them together with twist ties and secure to the gift.
  • old Christmas cards – Cut into various shapes, such as hearts or circles. Or cut out an image on the card and paste onto gift. Use the blank backs of the cards for gift tags.
  • drawings – sketch ribbons and bows onto gifts wrapped in kraft paper with a marker and crayons for an elegant look.


Potato Stamps on Brown Paper Bag

1. Cut a large potato in half. Use a marker to draw a design on the potato, such as a Christmas tree, bells, santa, stars. Use a blunt knife to cut away the potato pulp outside the shape. (You can also make several different stamps).

2. Brush kid-friendly paint onto the bottom of the potato and press the stamp onto both sides of the closed bag until you have a design you like.

3. After putting the gift in the bag, fold the top edges together and clip closed with a colourful paper clip. Or use a single hole punch and make a hole through the top of the bag and use string, twine, or ribbon to tie the bag shut. Add a gift tag.


Packing Alternatives

Tip: Use shredded paper from your office or from magazines and catalogues at home to package delicate gifts in their boxes before wrapping instead of using non-recyclable packing materials. Other packing alternatives include air-popped popcorn or peanuts in the shell.

Author: Colleen O’Malley Weber

Colleen O’Malley Weber and her husband Jeff live in Harwood with their daughter. To sign up for her Natural Living newsletter, email her or visit

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