The holidays are here, and whether you’re trimming a Christmas tree or lighting a menorah, you likely have some presents to wrap. What do you reach for first?

The tube of foil-covered wrapping paper? A gift bag and bow with festive tissue paper? While a well-wrapped gift is always a welcome sight during the holidays (and honestly any time of year), this year we’re encouraging our readers to think differently when it comes to their holiday gift wrapping habits.

While wrapping paper may seem as though it should be easy enough to recycle (it’s paper, right?), recycling spent wrapping paper and gift bags is a little more complicated than simply tossing them in the recycling bin. Most wrapping paper can only be recycled if it doesn’t have any embellishments and is simply just paper.

So all that pretty foil-covered paper is a no-go, and the same goes for bags — even wrapping paper with tape on it often can’t be recycled, so even though we may have high hopes for all that paper, oftentimes it just ends up in the trash or landfill. Not the most festive thought. But if you’ve ever been overwhelmed with wrapping paper on holiday mornings, this may come as welcome news: Why not put an end to all that single-use wrapping paper and change things up for the better? 

While conventional wrapping paper may be most people’s go-to, the truth is a well-wrapped, beautifully presented gift doesn’t have to come in store-bought wrapping paper. In most cases, choosing an alternative gift wrap is better for the environment and can even compliment the gift itself. Below, we describe four of our favorite ways to wrap a gift without wrapping paper:


#1—Fabric or a dish towel

Giving a kitchen or cooking-related gift? Why not wrap it up in a lovely linen dish or hand towel? Even if your gift isn’t meant for the kitchen, choosing a brightly-printed fabric scrap or even a vintage scarf that can be reused is a fun and unexpected way to give a gift. If you have multiple gifts to give, try hand-dying cotton squares that can be reused as towels or scarves after they’re unwrapped.



Ditch the tired old holiday cookie tin (technically reusable, but have you ever actually reused one?) and wrap your edible holiday gifts in a reusable wrap, like Beeswrap, instead. You’ll be saving wrapping paper from the landfill and helping your loved ones on their low-waste journey at the same time! Another great idea: Pick up a pack of Stasher bags and fill them with holiday treat; a lovely piece of twine with a gift tag can make the final presentation feel more festive.


#3—Reusable totes & shopping bags

Don’t underestimate the power of a reusable shopping bag or a fun tote. Filled with colorful tissue paper — or even a fabric-wrapped gift — a reusable bag is always handy and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’d turn away a fun tote bag. Consider a tote bag from your city, a favorite bookstore or coffee shop, or from a cause your giftee cares about to make it even more personal.


#4—Reusable jars

Reusable jars, like Weck jars and Ball jars, are another great way to present edible holiday gifts. Pack them with homemade treats, or layered cookie recipes, or stovetop potpourri such as in the image above. Not only do reusable jars offer a pretty wrapping idea, but they act as storage for your gift after it’s been given.

Looking for more sustainable ways to wrap a gift? If you love to use paper, consider using brown craft paper or newspaper, both of which can easily be recycled. Instead of tape, try a glue stick or wrapping your gift up without any tape, using twine alone. Additionally, you can save up plain paper bags from shopping trips throughout the year to upcycle as gift wrap, or use calendar pages or magazine pages. If you’re giving a gift basket, hit up your local thrift store where you’ll find any number of basket options that are perfect for gifting.


Do you have ideas for alternative gift wrapping? Share with us on social by tagging @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!