Tea towels are perfect for practising Furoshiki, a Japanese style of wrapping. Photo / Greta van der Star

4 Eco-Friendly Ways To Wrap Gifts This Christmas

Get creative this Christmas with these sweet and sustainable gift wrapping ideas

As a child I would wake up on Christmas morning to a cotton pillowslip fresh from the laundry hung over the back of a dining room chair, lumpy and heavy with mysterious objects. There was no wrapping paper, I’d simply close my eyes and reach into my sack, taking turns with my siblings to reveal the treasures inside.

READ: How To Survive The Silly Season (And Save Your Sanity)

This was the late 80s so there was no talk of waste, it was simply an affordable and quick way for a working mum to present gifts to her children. I can still smell the sun in the cotton, and I still rummage through fresh laundry for a wrapping alternative if there is no paper tucked away in the office for repurposing.

Now, with waste at the forefront of conversation and consciousness, it’s more important than ever to get creative with our packaging.

Type Furoshiki into YouTube and you’ll quickly pick up this Japanese style of wrapping. A traditional bundling or wrapping technique, it can be used to wrap anything from clothes to books and bottles. All you need is a square of fabric or a tea towel. If you’re having trouble with tricky shapes, place the item in a box. Keep an eye out for souvenir tea towels in op shops for a cheaper alternative. These get surprisingly soft when you wash them, making them easier to tie, and they’re great for washing up after Christmas lunch.

Give courier packaging a new lease on life. Photo / Greta van der Star

Even if it’s compostable or biodegradable, this packaging still has a bit more life in it. Turn the bags inside out or cover old labels with cards or images from magazines. For alternatives to sticky tape, try paper tape like washi or stitch bags closed with cotton. I’ve used garden foliage and dried flowers to distinguish gifts, stitching them on to paper cards and directly on to the packaging. For name tags, use postcards or cut the covers off old cards or, perhaps, have your children paint some.

Put excess cotton totes to good use this festive season. Photo / Greta van der Star

Cotton totes have become an increasingly popular way to package clothing, which means drawers are exploding with cotton bags. They’re perfect for gift wrapping. If they’re on the sheer side, use a paper bag or reuse some tissue and secure it around the item before placing in the bag. If the bags aren’t big enough, try sewing two together. Distinguish gifts by attaching a decoration. I like this hand-painted Mexican ornament (find it at the Mid Summer Market at An Astute Assembly, 76 Ponsonby Rd on Dec 14). This is also a great place to use fabric scraps to secure parcels. Try adding florals or herbs from the garden.

Tea towels are perfect for practising Furoshiki, a Japanese style of wrapping. Photo / Greta van der Star

Pillowcases are great for a mid-size gift and can be easily tied with used ribbon or string such as this recycled sari string from Everyday-Needs.com. You could also incorporate the pillowcase as part of the gift. Some of my favourites are the stonewashed linen from Tessuti.co.nz, or find second-hand embroidered cotton or faded floral prints at an op shop. You can tuck name cards into the fold behind the knots.

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