10 Clever Zero Waste Gift Wrapping Ideas

zero waste gift wrapping

You did it! You found the perfect gift for your loved one. Now you just need to get it wrapped up and it will be ready to give them.

Before you go out and spend extra money on glossy wrapping paper, plastic bows and reels of tape, which all swiftly end up in the trash and landfill, consider getting a little clever this holiday.

zero waste gift wrapping

10 ZERO WASTE GIFT WRAPPING IDEAS

Apply the below ideas as a holiday gift to our planet. Limit holiday waste by wrapping your gifts with a little extra thoughtfulness. Depending on what you do, the wrapping experience might even be more memorable than the gift!

1. Hide and Seek

The night before you open gifts as a family, after everyone goes to bed, hid your gifts around the house. In the morning, mysteriously tell your loved one you hid their presents (unwrapped) in the house and they have to find them with a series of clues.

The clues can be easy for little ones like, “It’s in the guest room closet” or “It’s hidden in a kitchen pot.” They can also be more advanced clues for older children and family. Watch how quick they run and the excitement they have when they find their gift!

2. Game Gifting

Play a game to discover the gift’s identity! Create a game of clue where you give them a series of clues and once they guess the gift they get the gift (unwrapped) from it’s hiding place. 

You can also apply this idea to their favorite game.

If they love crosswords, create a crossword puzzle that spells their gift name or the location of their gift. A word search where they have to find the gift name in the puzzle is also a unique surprise.

There are many different games; this idea gets the best reaction when you tailor the fun to your loved one's favorite game type.

guide to zero waste gift wrapping

3. The Stocked Stocking

This is a unique and minimalist yearly tradition. It works really well when the gifts you purchase are small and can also be a great way of keeping the gifts within a certain budget.

Begin a tradition where all tangible gifts fit into a stocking and any other gifts are life experiences not able to be wrapped. This idea keeps the wrapping waste down to an absolute minimum and makes for a special tradition where each family member unpacks their personal stocking each year.

4. Unwrapped Wrapping

There are some items we agree are silly to try to wrap and we typically only place a bow or tag on these types of items (a car or bike for example).

So, consider applying this idea to any size item and put a simple paper bow, or fun tag on your gift and put it unwrapped under the tree after the kids have gone to bed. You can also hand a gift to your loved one wrapped in a big smile or hug from you!

5. Branded Bags

Did your purchase come in a beautifully branded bag or box? Gift it in the branded bag. Most stores go through great effort to make the branding visually appealing and year-round offer to pack your purchases for you to carry around and take home in their branded bag.

By gifting the present in the same bag you’re reusing the original purchase packaging and limiting additional waste. Yes, wrapping like this will give the receiver a hint what the gift might be.

If you don’t want to risk them guessing the gift when they see the branding under the tree, simply switch gifts around into different branded bags from where you made the purchases and it will keep the gift identities a mystery until opened.

6. Present in a Present

It is fun to open a present and it can be even more fun when a gift comes inside of another gift. House your present in a second gift like a keepsake box, a collectible matryoshka doll, or even a stylish tote that can be reused as a grocery or shopping bag.

7. Misdirection Wrapping

This is for the practical jokesters. Use a box from another purchase like an old iPhone box, an Amazon delivery box, or any sized box from another purchase that you have saved.

This will mislead them into thinking that their gift is something huge when it’s not or it’s a completely different item all together. Reactions to this can be pretty funny!

zero waste gift wrapping

8. Herbal Additions

Use real herbs to decorate your present packaging. These are a biodegradable and a more beautiful option than plastic bows in my opinion. Herbal suggestions include rosemary, mistletoe, eucalyptus, lavender, thyme and/or holly berries.

Have a plant around your home that needs pruning? You can also use clippings as decoration. Simply wrap and knot the chosen herb or plant stem securely with a bit of compostable twine and affix it to your box or dangling from your gift bag handle.

9. DIY Bows

Designer bows are made out of plastic, add a millisecond of excitement to gift opening and go straight to the landfill. Avoid these as often as possible if you want to be conscious about your gift wrapping.

Do you still want to add pretty bows to your present packaging? You can craft bows out of biodegradable paper, scrap paper, newspaper, music sheets or another reusable resource with a clear conscience.

zero waste gift wrapping

10. Biodegradable Flair

If you want to go the more traditional route for your gift wrapping there are many sources to find biodegradable wrapping paper, ribbons, and tape. Most of the traditional wrapping items, sadly, are not recyclable and go straight to the landfill.

So, seek equivalents that are made from biodegradable materials and rest easy knowing that even though you purchased additional wrapping that will get thrown away, it will dissolve into zero waste post all the gifting camaraderie.

Have fun wrapping gifts for your loved ones this holiday season. I can’t wait to hear in the comments any fun reactions that you experienced to these wrapping ideas or any new ideas that you came up with that were sparked by this post.

Happiest holiday wishes your way!

What are your favorite zero waste wrapping techniques? Share with us in the comments!

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