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8 Creative Ways to Wrap Gifts Without Wrapping Paper

A table covered in gifts wrapped in alternatives to traditional gift wrap, like craft paper or cloth.
Fevziie/Shutterstock

The holidays are upon us, which means it’s officially gift-giving season. If you’re wanting to get a bit creative with your gift wrapping this year, we’ve got some great ideas.

Some people search out alternative gift wrapping methods because they’re concerned about the environment, wanting a more sustainable option than single-use, disposable wrapping paper. Others are bored by the same old Christmas-themed patterns: Santa, snowmen, glittery snowflakes. And then there are those who left gift wrapping to the last minute, with no time to rush to the store to grab regular wrapping paper. Whatever the reason, it’s okay to break out of the box and do something different.

In the end, a gift is a gift. People are more excited about what’s inside, so whatever wrapping you choose is just the icing on the top.

Kids’ Artwork

Kids love to be creative, meaning they produce a lot of artwork. Go ahead and save it all year long, pulling out the box during the holidays.

Pick out some bright and colorful pieces, taping them together to make unique wrapping paper. Or assign a few Christmas paintings for your children to do, adding in foam stickers and other fun embellishments.

You can also put them to work painting and decorating your paper bag gift wrappings.

Paper Bags

If you have a stash of saved up paper bags from shopping trips, now’s the time to put them to use! You can cut them open, turn them inside out (so the store logo is hidden), and wrap up any sized gift.

If you have children, put them to work with crayons, markers, stickers, and stamps, making the gift a unique piece of artwork. It’s bound to melt anyone’s heart.

If you want to decorate it yourself, you can go to town with a Sharpie—making shapes, patterns, writing inspiring words, or even taping on a few pictures. Add a ribbon or a bow and you’re done!

Check out this tutorial for more inspiration.

Cloth Options

Using cloth to wrap your gifts is one of the most eco-friendly options out there. Think about an something that someone will need, such as a new scarf or extra cloth shopping bags.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Scarves: Large square-shaped scarves are perfect for wrapping up gifts. You can often find plenty of affordable options at the thrift store, or buy some Christmas-themed scarves for an extra touch. Secure them with a ribbon or a piece of rope.
  • Cloth napkins: These are ideal for smaller gifts. Check out these Christmas-themed cloth napkins for extra holiday pizazz.
  • Towels: Who doesn’t like new towels? You can get hand towels, bath towels, or decorative towels for the kitchen. Regular towels will work, or go all out with Christmas-patterned towels.
  • Bedding: You can wrap a lot in sheets and pillowcases. If you’re on a budget, grab a few from the thrift store. Gifting a fleece blanket? Use it to wrap a second gift instead of wrapping it by itself.
  • Fabric gift wrap: Find some colorful swatches of fabric and tie them up into gorgeous packages. Here’s a great guide to using furoshiki-style fabric wrapping.
  • DIY no-sew bags: If you can get some fabric, pinking scissors, and double-sided tape, you’re all set to make these no-sew bags. Read the full tutorial at We Are Scout.
  • Drawstring gift bags: It’s super easy to make your own, using them for years to come. Read the full tutorial at The Spruce Crafts.

Old Maps

Maps are becoming a bit obsolete, what with smartphones and built-in navigational systems in cars. However, there are still a lot of old maps lying around (or you can snag a few at the thrift store). Put them to use for an educational spin on your gifts.

Newspaper

This has been a popular option for many years. However, it’s getting harder and harder to get your hands on traditional newspapers, unless you have them delivered to your house. Still, you can often find newspapers at your local grocery store, or collect them from neighbors and friends.

Try to cut out sections that seem interesting, like the cartoons or even an intriguing news story. Spruce them up by adding bows, ribbons, or a hand-written poem.

Reusable Shopping Bags

You can never have too many cloth shopping bags, especially because more and more stores are banning single-use plastic bags. You can grab some fun colorful patterned bags at your local store.

This 6-pack of bags folds up small, making it easy to stash for later use.

These drawstring reusable bags are festive and fun—bound to last for years to come!

Upcycle Your “Trash”

We’ve already talked about newspapers and paper bags. But what other things can you pull out from the trash or recycling bin? You might be surprised by what can also double as gift wrapping!

  • Aluminum foil: You can wash and dry used pieces of aluminum foil, then use them as shiny, silvery wrapping paper! Check out The Gift Wrap Blog for inspiration.
  • Toilet paper rolls: That’s right, you can use old toilet paper rolls to hide gifts inside, wrapping them up into colorful packages. This is perfect for small gifts—like socks, jewelry, or a tiny toy. Watch this video for complete instructions.
  • Chip bags: If you’re eating a bag of chips and you notice it has a shiny metallic inside, then save it! Wash it up, turn it inside out, and wow—you’ve got some shiny wrapping paper!

The upcycling right might not be for everyone, but it’s tough to beat how it enables you to really tap into the “reuse” part of the ol’ reduce/recycle/reuse mantra.

Decorate with Nature

Gift wrapping doesn’t have to be about Santas and snowmen. Sometimes, the simplest touches are the most effective.

You can use any of the methods above, such as a brown paper bag, adding some leaves, gluing on a pine cone, or embellishing with an evergreen sprig or two. Even cinnamon sticks add a nice touch!


Gift wrapping doesn’t have to be fancy. Reusing old materials, or something useful (like a scarf) is a great way to get the job done. Remember, it’s what inside that matters most. So go ahead and get creative!

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »

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