Eco friendly gift wrapping at Christmas

This Christmas I am ditching the glitter (this might come as a surprise to anyone who knows me!) and I am only using recyclable wrapping paper. My aim is to give nicely wrapped gifts with minimum impact on the environment.

It is easy to check if paper is recycleable by simply scrunching it in your hand; if it stays scrunched it can most likely be re-cycled. The same can be done when you receive a gift and want to to check which bin it should go in. A better option is to fold and keep for future use. To think we always used to laugh when my Mum took forever to unwrap gifts and fold the paper – she was ahead of her time without knowing it (or maybe she did).

Sticky tape should be removed and placed in a bin for general rubbish; there are conflicting views online about the composition of sticky tape so better to play safe. You can avoid this by using washi tape or biodegradable brown paper tape.

I recently wrote a feature for a magazine and was shocked when I discovered how much wrapping paper goes to landfill each year. According to a study by waste management company Biffa, the UK creates 30% more waste than usual over Christmas. This includes approximately 220,000 miles of wrapping paper and 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging.

Most wrapping paper contains either glitter, plastic coating or foil, none of which can be recycled. Surprisingly enough, neither can tissue or shredded paper as the fibers can jam the machinery at the recycling plant. Shredded paper can, however, be used for packaging or compost.

It can be challenging to give your wrapping a festive look using only recycleable materials, but, with some thought, it can be done and the recipients of your beautifully wrapped gifts will appreciate just how much thought has gone into them.

I buy rolls of brown paper from ( if across the pond). 


Think rolls of brown paper, holly, ivy and twine. Add another few items from your gift wrapping box (it’s a great idea to start one) and not only will you save time, you will also save a fair amount of money and have everything to hand for the unexpected party invitation or forgotten birthday later in the year. 

So what can be in a ‘wrapping box’? Some suggestions are::

Brown kraft paper

A1 and/or A3 white paper

Wallpaper remnants




Single hole punch

Used and new ribbon

Rubber stamps and pads

Graphics ie Christmas images and a Happy Birthday tags

Washi tape

Vintage jewellery

Hessian or burlap

Vintage lace

Paper cutter

My top wrapping tips are:

If possible place each gift in a square or rectangular box.

Cut enough paper to go around the width of the box plus at least a 1-3″ overlap. Leave an equal amount at each end measuring just over half the depth of the box

Wrap on a table (haven’t we all struggled kneeling on the floor…..on a carpet?)

Use recycled paper – if it has already been recycled it can most likely be recycled again

Use large scissors and slide them through the paper, rather than taking short choppy cuts

Bottles can be wrapped in tea cloths, a sleeve of a sweater or a shirt sleeve.

Furoshiki wrapping

Use twine, rather than sticky tape

Use a metal ruler

Use natural product – cinnamon sticks, star anise, dried orange slices, fir cones, magnolia leaves, berries and conifer

Decorate with vintage lace, fresh flowers and lace

The two images in this photo were sourced from the GraphicsFairy I have used this site for many years as I really like the selection of royalty free images. I printed them off, then using a fine brush dipped in water, wet around the part I wanted to use and tore around it to achieve a ragged edge. Next step was to apply some strong coffee, with the brush, to give an aged effect.

I printed the little ‘Joy’ card using the Rhonna app. It’s a great, inexpensive app that can be used to combine your own images with beautiful frames and text. I also crocheted a tiny wreath to place above the fireplace and add some texture.

Hand crafted paper roses and dies cut using my cutting machine


A hand painted rose with stamped lace

Wrapped with wallpaper remnants or samples

Made with a card from our daughter and family, I love the fact that you can see the handwritten message

If you are unsure about what goes where, and I know I am, it is worth checking your local council website as




  1. Love your beautiful & creative ideas. I always start with recycling holiday cards into tags or fussy-cutting & layering images from the cards & I always save ribbon from every source (floral arrangements that are received in the office don’t end up in the trash).


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