18 Wrapping Paper Alternatives (To Help You Cut Down On Waste!)

18 Wrapping Paper Alternatives (To Help You Cut Down On Waste!)

Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in December 2018 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in December 2019.

You'd be forgiven for using wrapping paper year after year, but did you know that most of it can't be recycled? With glitter, foil embellishments and tape remnants, it's a real nuisance for landfill. 

Today we're sharing some alternatives to wrapping paper that are so beautiful, they might have you ditching the rolls for good. It's time we all started to make an effort to reuse what we already have in our homes - just think how much money you could save too!

1. Wrap anything with fabric

You can even wrap a bottle of wine!

Furoshiki is a traditional folding technique originating in Japan. All you need is a pretty square of fabric big enough to wrap your present with. No tape or ties needed! 

You can buy cheap cuts of fabric or use old bedsheets to create your very own wraps. Why not buy the recipient a scarf and use that to wrap the present?

2. Tracing paper 

Got some spare tracing paper at home? It could double up as cellophane-style wrapping paper in a pinch. Place some scraps of paper or pressed flowers underneath for a unique looking gift. 

3. Baking parchment

Similar to tracing paper, baking parchment can come in handy for gift wrapping if you've got nothing else to hand. It looks quite similar to brown paper so if you were to adorn with twine, we're sure no one will notice the difference!

4. Brown paper 

brown paper and string gift
Simple and sweet.

Who doesn't love the classic brown paper package tied up with string? Add a pretty Christmas ornament as a finishing touch and a bonus gift. 

5. Paper napkins

Got some spare paper napkins lying around from birthday parties and Christmas dinner? Use them to wrap small gifts. Napkins are especially good for wrapping up delicate items like jewellery. 

6. Sheet music

Maison de Pax wrapped their gifts using sheet music. It's perfect for the festive period or great for that music lover in your life. Add some coloured twine and foliage for stunning results. 

7. Posters

We've all got some old posters knocking about. Don't throw them away - put them to use as themed wrapping paper! 

8. Paper & washi tape

wrapping paper made with washi tape
Totally custom!

Why not take some ordinary printer paper and make your own custom wrapping paper with washi tape embellishments? It's so easy to do and looks really effective. 

9. Maps

Now that maps are available at the touch of a button, all of our old paper copies are redundant. Cityhippyfarmgirl had the wonderful idea to put them to use as wrapping paper. If you ask us, it could pass as patterned wrapping paper brought from a shop. 

10. Tin foil

Ever thought of wrapping your presents in tin foil? As long as you're careful not to let it get to wrinkled or scrunched, it can pass for foil paper. 

If you're looking for environmentally friendly options, this might not be the one for you. That said, as long as tin foil is clean, it should be recyclable in your area but be sure to check first.  

11. Photos

present with photo instead of a tag
Ditch the labels!

Gift tags are so last year! Why not switch them out for personal photos of you and the recipient. Not only does it help to show who the gift is for, but it adds something special to the plain brown paper. The photos can be framed afterwards too, reducing waste!

12. Chalkboard paint

Tidy mom found some matte black paper that's great for gifting all year round. Simply use some chalk to mark the occasion! 

13. Newspaper

Gave That show how easy it is to wrap presents using upcycled newspaper sheets. If you spend some time carefully choosing your sheets, you can end up with some brilliant results. 

14. Use a gift box

gift box
They double up as handy storage!

Instead of wrapping gifts in paper that'll be ripped off, why not decorate boxes and enclose gifts inside? You can keep the boxes to be reused at a later date. 

15. Gift bags

It sounds obvious but, just in case you have forgotten, gift bags are a great way to wrap a present! Just pop the present inside and you're done. Gift bags are nice and robust so they can be used over and over again. No need for wrapping here.

16. Rip pages from a book

Ernnish used pages from a book to wrap small gifts. They finished the design off with some brown twine. We're not sure if a book-lover would like this though - they might consider it murder! 

17. Wrappers

You might disagree, but sometimes wrappers make great wrapping. Fancy bars of chocolate and wrappings from high-end products can be reused to wrap gifts. Try it for yourself and see if it's for you. 

18. Children's artwork

wrapping paper made from drawings
The family will love it!

If you've got children, you'll probably have a growing pile of messy masterpieces. Why not use some of them to wrap gifts? Skip to my Lou got their children to work, creating unique gift wrap. 

Have you tried any of these alternative wrapping paper ideas before? Let us know in the comments below!

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

  1. Author Donatello46 on December 21, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    If you have smallish presents to wrap, why not use your computer to design your own paper, or import a design, picture or photograph (provided that you don't breach copyright), print it out and use that? If you have larger, but not huge, presents to wrap, then print more than one copy or print compatible pages. You're only limited by your own imagination.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 2, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Great tip!

  2. Author Ohioren Aigbokhaevbo on January 28, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Nice tips.... This tips come in handy when am saving cost.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 29, 2020 at 11:42 am

      Glad you found them useful!

  3. Author November Chizurumoke on January 29, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I'm conscious of my environment and discourage waste a lot. These ideas are great alternatives to wrapping papers that end up in the trash can. Papers can be reused and scarfs/ clothes can be up-cycled.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 29, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      I'm glad you agree!

  4. Author Sheila OConnor on December 23, 2020 at 9:15 am

    we use pillow cases tied with bows for family pressies

    1. Author Joanne A on October 19, 2022 at 9:08 am

      Lovely idea!

  5. Author Brenda on December 23, 2020 at 10:31 am

    I've usually got some different sized empty tins or jam jars in the back of the kitchen cupboard, you can add your own decoration to make it personal.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 6, 2022 at 5:29 pm

      Lovely idea!


Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *