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What Are Some Alternatives to Wrapping Paper?

By Bronwyn Harris
Updated May 16, 2024
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Consumers who want to help the environment can do so most effectively by reducing consumption. Wrapping paper alternatives not only reduce the need for various resources to be consumed, but also offer a creative and unique presentation for gifts. No matter what the gift is, there is a wrapping paper alternative to make the gift-giving experience even more special.

One extremely low-cost wrapping paper alternative is to use the Sunday comics. These are bright, colorful, and fun, and will probably be passed around and read as the recipient opens the gift. Children and adults alike will appreciate this attractive wrapping paper alternative. To spruce it up a bit more, clear cellophane can be used over the comics newspaper, creating a smooth, more polished look.

Similarly, old calendars can be used as a wrapping paper alternative. The pictures from these calendars, or from high-quality magazines with thick pages, can be cut out and used to wrap smaller gifts. The pictures are usually brilliantly colored and the paper is thick and glossy, creating a beautiful presentation. An old road map, topographical map, or marine chart also creates an intriguing wrapping paper alternative, especially if it has relevance to the gift recipient's life, interests, or the gift itself.

Re-used gift wrap, if not damaged, is another free wrapping paper alternative. Torn or ragged edges can be cut off and high-quality ribbon will last through many uses. Newsprint roll-ends are often given away by newspaper offices and can be decorated with markers, paints, rubber stamps, or stickers. Children often like to see their artwork displayed and, with their permission, their artwork can be used as a wrapping paper alternative.

For those who enjoy sewing, fabric gift bags can be created and used as a unique wrapping paper alternative. These gift bags can be sewn out of old sheets, pillowcases, fabric remnants, or just about any other fabric that might be lying around. They can also be used for gifts made with fabric like pregnancy pillows, dog beds, stuffed toys, and other soft items. When time and effort is put into creating a beautiful and reusable wrapping paper alternative, the bag will likely be reused by the recipient or passed on to wrap a gift for someone else! This is also the best alternative especially if your gift is oddly shaped, like a U-shaped pregnancy pillow or a musical instrument. This allows you to secure the gift and conceal it as well.

Any wrapping paper alternative can be made more festive or unique by adding decorations that are readily available. Glitter, stickers, shapes cut from colorful paper, photos, or words cut from magazines can personalize the gift. Flowers, pine cones, or sprigs of a fragrant plant add a special touch to the wrapped gift.

There are countless other ideas for creating a unique wrapping paper alternative. For people with a lack of time or creativity, there are also commercially-available alternatives to gift wrap such as wrapping paper with recycled content, biodegradable wrapping paper, or hemp-blend paper. A thoughtful consumer can wrap gifts in a variety of attractive ways without harming the environment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 01, 2014

My wife works for a local newspaper, and one thing she uses as an alternative to wrapping paper is called an "end roll". When the press run for a newspaper is over, there is usually some newsprint paper remaining on the rolls. There isn't enough to start a new run, so these "end rolls" are often discarded. Employees, or even the general public, can take these rolls home when available. They aren't decorative, but there will be enough paper to wrap large presents or create handmade banners.

By Phaedrus — On Feb 28, 2014

One of my own wedding gifts was a large set of pots and pans. The boxes were all wrapped together with an inexpensive vinyl tablecloth. It was large, decorative and functional. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for more formal occasions, but it worked perfectly well for our informal wedding.

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