It’s a wrap

Alternative ways to swathe a gift

The gift-giving-at-a-massive-level season is here. And since it’s the thought that counts, you know what’s really a good idea? Delivering those gifts in eco-friendly wrap. Americans generate 25 percent more trash during the holidays, much of which is single-use wrapping paper, which looks pretty for a few days under the tree, then gets shredded and tossed into the recycling bin or—worse yet—the landfill.

Here are some great ways to avoid using brand-new wrapping paper:

Furoshiki is a Japanese style of wrapping that substitutes fabric for disposable paper. It’s a technique that avoids the use of ribbon, tape and sewing. It’s just wrapping and tying knots. Think of fitting a diaper without the pins. Scarves, towels, cloth napkins and—heck—even a diaper will work. (Go to to watch a furoshiki how-to video!)

Fabric gift bags are like paper gift bags but don’t get tossed after opening. Any flat-bottomed tote will work, or you can make your own. (Click on for a tutorial.)

Vintage gift wrap can ideally be used on a gift for someone who will appreciate its deeper beauty and make the effort to carefully remove it so it can be used yet again for such things as craft projects. Keeping this in mind, go easy on the tape!

Reusable containers can take the place of a wrap and, as the name implies, be used again and again, not just to disguise gifts, but for other practical purposes like holding office supplies. Suggestions include mugs, baskets, Altoids tins, Mason jars, metal tins and buckets and cookie jars.