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Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Idea

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Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas with Christmas fabricThis year, Bob and I decided that we are going wrapping-paper-less!  Every Christmas, after gifts are opened, we find ourselves lost in a mountain of torn, crumpled, wrapping paper.  It almost gets to the point of playing Marco Polo just to find one another.  Funny but sad.

So….. We are wrapping our gifts in fabric!  That’s right fabric. The idea is that when these presents are unwrapped, the fabric can be saved by those who receive our gifts and can be reused the next time they give presents.   This is a custom in some Asian countries, especially Korea.  I love the idea that maybe years from now I could get a present from someone using a fabric that I used at one time.  And who knows how many hands it had passed through.  :)

We think it is time to make a change and change takes determination and commitment.  If you decide to try this idea, don’t feel overwhelmed with the process.  We don’t want to add any stress to our holiday seasons so try to do it with grace and ease.  Meaning… breathe and have fun with the process.

When selecting the fabrics that you want to use, there are several ways to approach it.  You can purchase fabrics, use existing fabrics tucked in your craft room, or perhaps you can recycle some old clothing or sheets… be creative.  Just make sure that they are in good condition.

With so many wonderful prints and colors of fabrics that are available, you can really personalize the gift that you give, starting from the outside, in. Perhaps you are gifting a Western shirt, find fabric with cowboys/girls on it.  Fabric stores are always running sales so if you shop wisely; you can save quite a bit of money in the long run.

Our goal is to adopt this new tradition for each gift-giving holiday.  For gifts that will go outside of our home, I will attach a card that explains why their present is swaddled in fabric.  As I said above, the hope is that they will save their “wrapping paper” and reuse it for their own gift giving, thus creating a ripple effect.

Don’t Burn Wrapping Paper

We are told not to burn gift wrap paper, so I had to learn why exactly.   Through my Google research, I have found that wrapping paper can contain toxic fumes, lead, synthetic inks, plastic film, chlorine or metal-based foils, which release toxic and carcinogenic compounds into the air when burned….not something that should be inhaled.  So forget a bonfire and the idea of roasting marshmallows over it.

Thinking that you can burn it in your fireplace?  Think again… “Burning gift wrapping can cause a chimney fire. Gift wrap burns very quickly and very hot due to the low moisture content and wide surface area of the paper. Instead of a normal fire, with the addition of gift wrap, suddenly a roaring bonfire is created in the fireplace or wood stove, which it is not designed for. Sparks or flames can jump up through the damper and ignite nearby flammable creosote, resulting in a dangerous chimney fire.”

Often Wrapping Paper Can’t be Recycled

Ok, so we shouldn’t burn it, why not recycle it?  More times than not, recycling centers won’t take it. The materials that go into making some wrapping papers result in it not always accepted for recycling.  This can be due to the dyes used, it might be laminated and/or contains non-paper additives such as gold and silver-colored shapes, glitter, plastics, etc. which cannot be recycled.  And a lot of wrapping paper has sticky tape attached to it which also makes it very difficult to recycle.

Can’t burn it, the chances are that your local recycling company won’t take it, so why not just send it to the landfill?!  Everybody else does.  I read that the holiday season contributes an extra 4 million tons of waste each year, attributed to wrapping paper, shopping and gift bags!    If we all work on taking sustainable baby steps, we just might be able to make a difference.

how to wrap gifts with Christmas material

Tips on creating and wrapping with cloth:

Cut fabric to size.  Fold the edge over two times and hem with a straight stitch or zig-zag stitch.  Iron and fold!

sewing hems on all sides of the fabric

I have a pile completed but more to go.

stacks of fabric wrapping paper ready to go

Here is a quick example of a gift all wrapped up in fabric wrapping paper.

you can use ornaments as decoration for gift wrapping

I will be adding more photos as I wrap the gifts.  Have fun! As I promised… I am back with some more photos.

 I spent part of the day today creating more wrapping “papers” and wrapping up gifts.  I hope some of this helps.

The Blanket….

You could wrap clothing, towels, or any other soft items this way.

wrapping a blanket in cloth wrapping paper

Place the blanket in the center of the fabric.

wrapping a blanket in cloth wrapping paper, no tape needed

Completely roll the blanket in the fabric.

the blanket is all wrapped up

Gather the sides and tie shut with ribbon or twine.  That’s it.

tie the ends shut with twine

Two Jars…

I love mason jars, and I tend to use them as delivery vessels of yummy
raw treats.  Here is an excellent way to wrap two jars at one time.  This technique
can be used for other items that are similar in shape.  For example, this would
be a fun way to wrap a pair of shoes. :)

wrapping two jars in fabric

Place the jars towards the edge of the fabric, with enough space between
them so that when you stand them up, they can sit side by side.

roll the jars up in the fabric with space between the two

Roll them up into a tube shape.

the two jars are now fully wrapped

Grab the ends and fold the two sides together.

bring the ends of the fabric together

Gather and tie the two tops together.  Cute as can be. :)

tie the ends of the fabric together with twine

The toolkit…

With these photos, I am just giving you some ideas on how to wrap different shapes.

wrapping a tool kit with Christmas fabric instead of paper

Place the box in the center of the fabric.

place the box in the center of the fabric and fold one side over

Fold both sides over.

place the box in the center of the fabric and fold one side over, then the other

Take the loose fabric on the sides and roll each side towards the center,
creating a …. tail?  So hard to describe actions sometimes. :)  But I think
the photo helps.  The scissor is a weight to hold it down while I took the photo.

Take the lose fabric on the sides and roll each side towards the center, creating a .... tail? So hard to describe actions sometimes. :) But I think the photo helps. The scissor is a weight to hold it down while I took the photo.

Repeat on the other side.

Repeat on the other side.

Now gather them on top of the box as seen below.

now bring the ends together

Tie together with ribbon or twine.

and tie together with twine

I then tucked the tails underneath.  This is optional but worked with this gift.

you can leave the tails out or tuck them in

Darn!  See that edge of fabric… looks messy.

tool box all wrapped and looking pretty

Oh… hey, a pocket. Yea yea a pocket!  Great place to slide a Christmas
card into.  Now it looks like I did it on purpose. :)

slide a card in the fabric


perfect gift giving idea

So far, the tree is looking fantastic with all the fabric wrapped gifts.

fabric wrapped Christmas presents under the tree

Here is a sample letter that we will include with each fabric wrapped gift.

Please feel free to edit it to your liking and include with your gifts as well.

Why is this present wrapped in fabric?
Welcome to our new tradition of gift wrapping.  Every Christmas, after all the gifts are opened, we find ourselves lost in a mountain of torn, crumpled, wrapping paper.  It almost gets to the point of playing Marco Polo just to find one another.  After learning that an extra 4 million tons of waste (wrapping paper, gift bags, and ribbons) goes into landfills during the holiday season, we decided it was time to make a change.
This isn’t a new tradition, in Korea, it is referred to as Bojagi and in Japan, it is called Furoshiki.  But it’s a new tradition that we are implementing in our household, and we hope that it is something you will find useful as well.    So the trick is for you to save this wrapping fabric and use it to wrap the next gift that you give.  And you don’t have to stop at Christmas; there’s birthdays, anniversaries, other holidays whenever you give presents.   Check with that guy Google; there is lots of info about fabric wrapping techniques online.  Much Love Bob and Amie Sue
12/12/14 Another Update photo…
Every year when our family gathers for Christmas, I play Santa and provide matching Christmas jammies for everyone.  I had a great time wrapping them in the fabric wrap this year, so much so that I wanted to share a photo with you. :)
a basket full of cloth wrapped Christmas gifts
Update 12/27/14
For the eve of opening gifts, I prepared a station for all used gift
wrap to gather.  Clean up has never been easier and opening
gifts wrapped in cloth was so much more peaceful.
save the twine once done unwrapping and store in a jar

30 thoughts on “Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Idea

  1. Lyn says:

    Wow , I had no idea !!! I don’t want to contribute to “the mess” (the landfill), what a creative solution!!! Your the BEST !!!! :] Lyn

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello sweet Lyn :)

      I was blinded myself. But once I read about it all, I no longer could ignore it. Happy Thanksgiving my friend, hugs. amie sue

  2. Lyn says:

    P.S. Where did you find your twine holder …sooo cute!!! :]

    • amie-sue says:

      lol, I bought it at a kitchen store actually. I don’t even recall their name… somewhere in Portland. I didn’t have any intentions in going to a kitchen store but I saw I a bright shiny mixer in the window and that is all it took. haha

  3. Janice says:

    pretty! and the gift recipients are blessed to have two gifts in one. Thanks Amie Sue for this eco-friendly idea

    • amie-sue says:

      That is how I hope others will perceive it. I love that I can find fabrics to match the person’s personality and likings. I am really having a lot of fun with this. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. amie sue

  4. Tami says:

    Thank you, I love your website and all the info that you share! I will be wrapping with fabric from now on.

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Tami :) Check back because I will be adding more photos on some wrapping techniques. It’s all just a matter of playing around and being creative with it. Many blessings, amie sue

  5. Elaine says:

    What a good idea…..At first I thought it was too expensive…then after I read about the toxicity and recycling problems, I decided it was worth it. I had never thought about those problems before and heaven knows we need to do all we can for the environment. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • amie-sue says:

      I can understand Elaine. I sort of look at it as I do food, spending a little extra is an investment for our future. My husband and I don’t care if our clothes are second hand, but we do care and only buy the best quality food. Enjoy and have fun with it! amie sue

  6. Ingrid says:

    Fantastic! I’m in! And I sent your article to my family. I will spread it on more sites, and at my work.
    Ingrid (from the Netherlands)

  7. Margaret says:

    Amie sue I think that is a wonderful Idea an they look very pretty . You inspired me to do the same an I bet a lot of other people will feel the same way. Thanks for sharing such an nice craft project.

    • amie-sue says:

      That is music to my ears Margaret… I was hoping to inspire others. At first I found it challenging but what isn’t when you present change into things. I have been wrapping gifts today, as I sew more “paper” and with each one, my excitment grows. Happy Thanksgiving! amie sue

  8. Margaret says:

    Amie I love this idea it’s thinking out of the box. An the gifts look very pretty . Thanks for sharing such a crative craft project .

    • amie-sue says:

      You’r welcome Margaret. :) I just came up form my craft room, sewing more wrapping paper. I am really starting to enjoy it. I will be posting more photos too. Many blessings and have a happy day, amie sue

  9. Sandie says:

    Amie Sue, what a wonderful idea. I will implement this this XMAS. Hopefully family & friends will appreciate and continue. Such a useful idea that has never crossed my mind. Thanks so much for sharing

    • amie-sue says:

      That is wonderful Sandie. Don’t forget to include a note explaining why your wrapped their gift in fabric. It will help for them to spread the tradition. This weekend I am going to write something up and I will post it here just incase someone wants to know what to share with others. Have a glorious weekend, amie sue

  10. Cheryl says:

    I had never really given this much thought, except that using paper seems so wasteful each year. Seeing how beautiful and personal the gifts look tied in twine, changed my mind. I’m headed to the fabric sales and will adopt this new concept. Thank you!!

    • amie-sue says:

      That’s great Cheryl. I am not a “black Friday” shopper but I had to go to Joanne Fabrics today (thank goodness I missed the rush) and I got Christmas fabric for 75% off! It’s been neat to share with the gals who cut the fabric as to what I am making with it all. Today, I took all my scrap pieces of fabric and made all sorts of sized bags for stocking stuffers, etc. I am really enjoying it the more I work with it.

      Have a blessed weekend, amie sue

  11. Kayte says:

    Very nice wrappings! I really like the blanket print too! What brand is the blanket? Thanks for sharing!

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Kayte,

      Thank you. :) I am not sure what you are referring to as the blanket? Help hehe

      • Kayte says:

        I’m referring to the black and white blanket you are wrapping. Not to detract from your wrapping, though I’d like to add that lace makes nice wrapping material too, the blanket is very attractive and if it’s not inappropriate to ask, I’d like to know the source and brand of the blanket. Otherwise, where can I get one? Thank you and apologies if this is an inappropriate question to ask.

        • amie-sue says:

          OH lol… sorry. I was so focused on the fabrics that I didn’t catch that. To be honest that is a blanket that my sister picked up for a gift. She got it at Wal-Mart for $29. It is soooo snuggly soft. And by all means… you didn’t ask any inappropriate questions. hehe I was just having one of my blonde moments. hehe Have a great day! amie sue (oh and they had red and tan colored blankets too with the same print)

  12. Marey says:

    What a brilliant idea – I will certainly be implementing this year with the hopes of “being the change” and inspiring others – much like you have done – to do the same! Best wishes to you and yours!

    • amie-sue says:

      That is great Marey. :) I have been wrapping a lot of gifts this week and the more I do it, the more fun it becomes. It’s a change in what I am use to but that’s ok… I love learning and adapting new ways… specially if it can benefit Mother Earth. :) Have a splendid day. amie sue

  13. Kiki says:

    I am so happy I found this site. I’ve been pinning since yesterday and I’ve bookmarked so that I can make sure to go through every one of them! I am in the process of transitioning to raw vegan (I’m mostly raw now), but thought that the Holidays would be a time I’d have to make allowances. That is, until I found your blog. I’ve sound countless recipes already and this idea of gift giving with cloth is such a perfect idea! I can’t wait to try this and hopefully implement here with loved ones. Thank you for running such an amazing blog! :)

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Kiki… what a wonderful message to come home to. :) I appreciate that you took the time to share this with me. I hope that you find many many recipes to get you through the holidays. I have a suspicion that you will. hehe Enjoy my site and please keep in touch. I love hearing from those who come visit, linger and try the recipes.

      We loved switching over to the cloth wrapping paper. There is a tiny learning curve but only because it is so different than what we are programed to do. Enjoy and have a great evening, amie sue

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