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Wrapping our head around the holidays

Contributor: Ria Bagga

Many celebrations are tied with the tradition of gift-giving. But one tradition you might consider switching up this year is how you choose to wrap those gifts. In fact, many of the things around you could be re-used when wrapping a gift, avoiding a mess of rolled-up, unrecyclable paper balls sprinkled with tape. Here’s a wrap-it fire round of five sustainable ways you could rethink and reuse materials as gift wrap!

Put that old periodic table (and other paper) to good use

Add in an element of surprise this holiday season, and use your periodic table to wrap a gift! We’re sure everyone around you will be left saying “OMG” with that extra touch of oxygen and magnesium. If you do not own a periodic table (or refuse to let go of yours), there are plenty of other types of paper to choose from. Sheets from calendars, sheet music, newspapers (maybe customize your gift with the Western Gazette?), pages from books (hmmm maybe even from that textbook lying on your desk), or vintage maps are just some of the ways you can choose to wrap your gift!

The best part about reusing paper is that you can add your own personal touch by decorating it with paint, stamps, or other artwork. You can also often use mad geometry skills and get away without using tape. Instead, you can choose to fold the paper around your gift in a unique way, and perhaps top it off with a string!

Use t-shirts to make your own string

Channel your inner engineer, and cut long, thin strips of clothing—such as a t-shirt or a pair of pants—and braid them together to make string! If you’re not about all that tension (pun intended), you can also stick with the thin strips of clothing alone, they make a great alternative to purchasing a new ribbon. T-shirts and other articles of clothing are versatile for many other gift wrapping ideas as well.

Re-use fabric and clothing with Furoshiki

Wrapping with fabric is a traditional element of different cultures around the world. Dating back to the Nara period in Japan, Furoshiki is both a style of gift wrapping and traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, which was first used to cover valuable goods. Extra fabric from traditional clothing, scarves, or thrifting pieces of fabric are all great options and can be re-used for this holiday season and beyond. There are also multiple ways to wrap using Furoshiki, some ideas can be found here.

Take your love for avocados a pit further

If you have trouble finding fabric, you can also cut one side of a t-shirt to make your own! Avocado lovers can also take things a pit further: add an extra personal touch by tie-dying fabric with avocado pits! Using natural ingredients such as avocado pits is a genius (admit it, you agree) way to reuse leftover food scraps, and use a natural dye free of artificial additives. If this is something you are interested in, start saving up avocado pits, as you will need anywhere between 10 and 15, as outlined here.

Think outside the gift box

Unbox your creativity by using tins, cleaned glass jars, cardboard boxes, tote bags, or baskets which can all be decorated in endless ways. They are all perfect for that odd-shaped gift you might have, which would involve too much math to wrap. I think we can agree that the last thing we need during a celebration is some math. A lot of the purchases we make from stores (and Amazon) are packaged in different envelopes, packets, boxes, or tote bags. You can use these to hold gifts and dress them up with paint, twine, pinecones, or fabric string.

Reimagine how you give out gifts beyond the holiday season using some of the ideas above or come up with your own! You’d be surprised by the number of things you might find once you start looking for things to reuse. Wishing you all a happy holiday season, and for now, that’s a wrap!


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