ECO-FRIENDLY, NATURE-INSPIRED HOLIDAY GIFT WRAPPING GUIDE

When the time comes to wrap presents this year, think sustainable and let nature inspire you.

christmas treeEmbracing Simplicity

In our modern world of speed and convenience, we can become disconnected from how our actions impact the environment. Christmas is considered one of the most wasteful times of the year as it has become a season of excess. However, we can find our way back to making Christmas green again by being more mindful and learning from the people that came before us. Learning from previous generations and communities that live sustainably means embracing the basics - in other words, living simply.

One of the most wholesome moments of Christmas day is watching your loved ones open gifts you carefully picked out. The moment you hand over a beautifully wrapped gift, all of the time and effort is proven to be worthwhile. Taking care when wrapping presents does not necessarily mean buying expensive, elaborate wrapping paper; it can mean using organic cloth or plant-derived paper that is lighter on the environment. Through using these historical and eco-friendly forms of wrapping, you can show your family and friends how much you appreciate them while being sustainable at the same time.

Our homes are thankfully brimming with items that can be given a new lease of life as wrapping materials, from doilies to cotton tote bags; you just have to look hard enough! Taking your time to craft your own gift wrap and forage accessories in nature is also a brilliant way to savour the cheer of the holidays. So get your creative juices flowing while listening to Christmas music, and create some magic by harnessing nature as your muse.

The History of Sustainable Gift Giving

Gift giving is central to Christmas tradition in the Western world and can be traced as far back as ancient Rome. Wrapping gifts, however, was only recorded in the 1300s, when people did not use disposable wrapping paper like we do today. Wrapping gifts for loved ones was much more sustainable when it first came about, as reusables were the norm.

These days, using wrapping paper is mainly a popular practice in the West. We spend our time thoughtfully wrapping gifts with considerable paper and sellotape, only for them to be torn open within seconds. The waste is then thrown into the trash as its laden with non-recyclable plastic. Fortunately, many people are now looking for alternatives, and you’ll be glad to hear that there are plenty!

gathering winter berriesLet Nature Inspire You

One of the most restorative (and cheapest) holiday traditions is taking a stroll through nature on a fresh, frosty winter's day. So when you next embark on your walk through the woodlands or meadow or along the coast, we invite you to be mindful of everything you see – and smell. Our sense of smell has the ability to evoke and create powerful emotions and memories.

Appreciate the seasonal growth and scents, and forage whatever you can to repurpose in your gift wrapping. Refreshing scented sprigs, cones, leaves, and berries all make incredible seasonal decorations for presents. Your friends and family will no doubt appreciate your attention to detail. Consider the winter blooms that would make stunning toppers, and consider the materials that could be fashioned into a Furoshiki style gift wrap. There are endless possibilities when you are open to being creative and resourceful. Take a look at just a few of the ideas that we have outlined below.

Wrap it up in Timeless, Recycled Paper Gift Wrap

holiday recycled kraft gift wrapping ideas

Recycled Kraft Paper with Festive Red Berries & Greens
The simplicity of using kraft paper to wrap gifts is timeless. If you enjoy the rustic, classic look, you can keep the paper plain and adorn it with a few seasonal features such as twine and red berries. However, the blank canvas allows you to get as creative as you like. Keen artists can be as elaborate as they want with the illustrations on the paper, or keen typographers could decorate with stylish calligraphy. Red berries, twine and pine leaves make gorgeous accessories that represent the Christmas season, and you can easily come across them in nature.

Take yourself on a walk through the woods under the canopy of evergreen trees and pick up whatever you can find; this will make your gift wrap even more special and seasonal. Tea-staining is a simple method that allows you to change the color of materials like cotton to give them a more rustic look - you can do this to white string to match the earthiness of the kraft paper. Natural raffia is a 100% natural vegetable fibre from the leaves of a palm tree and is a perfect, sustainable way to attach gift tags to gifts.

holiday recycled paper gift wrap ideeas

Recycled White & Green Uncoated Paper with Fresh Greens

Uncoated paper is often recyclable, making them a much more eco-friendly wrapping paper option. We have created something simple yet classy by using uncoated white and green paper with items we foraged. The colors white and green are reminiscent of the festive season while also symbolizing features of our natural world. The crispness of blankets of snow covering eaves and the starkness of the white cloudy sky is represented in the white paper, and the earthy tones of evergreen trees, such as Juniper and Bayberry, is represented in the green.

Pair these natural shades with a handmade botanical gift topper made using a grapevine twig wreath and natural dried flowers, or posy, to finish it off and strengthen the nature theme. For more details, you could add pine tree cuttings for a refreshing, botanical scent, or even cuttings from your kitchen (rosemary and bay leaf have glorious scents). Use this method to wrap a luxurious gift that encompasses self-care and slow living, like this Organic Bath Gift Set.

Use Sustainable, Nature-Derived Handmade Paper Gift Wraps

Mulberry & Lokta Paper
Learning from other cultures is how we can expand our horizons and make our daily lives more sustainable. Nature-derived papers such as Mulberry and Lokta are widely recognized and used in many countries. Mulberry papers are crafted from the inner bark of the Mulberry Tree (in Thailand, it is known as Saa Paper) and have been made by hand for over 600 years. Mulberry bark grows back quickly, making it an environmentally sustainable option.

Lokta is another handmade paper made from the fibre of the Nepal Paper Plant (also called the Daphne or Lokta Bush). Not only does this plant grow back fast, the purchase of this tree-free paper economically supports artisans in Nepal. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, which are dyed using natural colors from plants, seeds, roots and dried fruit.

botanical mulberry paper gift wrap ideas

Go Woodland Floral with Botanical Mulberry Paper

We encourage you to think beyond the traditional holiday greenery and embrace light and airy flower designs to beautify your gifts. There are plenty of flowers that bloom in the winter months. You might see sprawling sweet peas in garden pots or the big, bright faces of amaryllis in a window sill. So floral patterns needn't be left out of the Christmas celebrations; in fact, they're a breath of fresh air during the festive season that you can certainly have fun with.

This Botanical Mulberry Paper is complemented by cheery woodland florals that you can find on a winter stroll. The purple floral paper is made using Iris, Marigold, Bougainvillea and prairie grass, making it a perfect pick for anyone who loves plants and gardening. Floral bath bombs, our botanical organic soaps and 100% organic cotton bath mitts available in 12 designs would make appropriate and luxurious gifts for this elegant, botanical paper.

handmade holiday lokta paper gift wrap

Take a Break from Traditional Red & Green with Metallic Lokta Paper and Fresh Holiday Greens

We love breaking traditions during the holidays and going for something bold and sophisticated like this handmade Lokta paper in metallic gold, silver and copper. So take a break from the usual bright red and green, and go for something inspired by nature’s richly layered seasonal color palettes. The metallic gold, in particular, goes perfectly with our regal and festive plum-colored Ventalina Organic Bath Towel Set.

Follow the refreshing, earthy scent of pine, spruce and fir on your next hike and take some of the foliage for your gift wrapping. The fresh greens will finish off the presentation and serve as a reminder of the paper's natural production process. We have also used silver raffia tie (often referred to as Wraphia), made from natural fibers that are biodegradable and recyclable, to attach the greens and keep everything neat.

sea inspired holiday gift wrapping ideas

Let the Ocean Inspire You with Sea-Inspired Lokta Paper & Gift Toppers

The ocean is a restorative force in our world. It symbolizes both life and strength and creates serenity within us as only natural ecosystems can. Marine-inspired gifts should not be overlooked at Christmas, as we often have a beach lover in our lives that would adore natural gift wrap like this Sea-inspired Lokta Paper. Wrapping up some Affina sea-inspired textured organic Bath or Beach Towels will really pull the theme together.

If you're going for a sea-themed spa basket, incorporate items such as sea salts, a loofah, seaweed bath products and an organic bath mitt. For decoration, take yourself for a walk on the beach and do some foraging. Little coastal treasures like seashells, beach stones, driftwood, and seashell rosette flowers can all make wonderful accessories. Don't feel you have to stick to the typical blue shades to adhere to the sea theme; you can try silvers, whites, or earthy tones to represent the shells, crustaceans, seaweed and sand.

Repurpose. Wrap it up in Cloth

Fabrics make incredible, sustainably-minded gift wraps. They're malleable, meaning that you can skillfully wrap gifts that are awkward shapes (like wine bottles and vases) without much trouble at all. Wrapping with cloth is faster too, allowing you more time to spend with your loved ones over the Christmas holidays. It’s also a great way to save money as there are plenty of items hiding away in our homes that make brilliant repurposed gift wraps, such as old runners, doilies, or even clothes. Reusing what you already have is key to living sustainably!

Holiday gift wrapping ideas with cloth

Japanese furoshiki gift wrapping

Furoshiki

Wrapping gifts with fabric is a method that's been used around the world for many years before we began using wrapping paper. Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping gifts in cloth; it's an old tradition that dates back to 710 B. C. If you value simplicity and elegance, you will get on with this method well. Fabrics such as linen and organic cotton are perfect for trying Furoshiki, and you can use natural methods to dye them with plants to achieve the colour you would like. 

holiday organic cotton gift bag

Organic Cotton Drawstring Gift Bags

Wrapping is an art, and it can take up time that not everyone has, which is why options like organic cotton bags are lifesavers. They’re also low effort yet chic ways of packaging gifts. And whoever receives the gift can reuse the bag afterwards, instead of discarding it like wrapping paper - so it’s like two gifts in one! Fortunately, drawstring bags come in many sizes to be used for smaller gifts such as jewelry or bigger gifts such as cookery books. We used a 100% organic cotton gift bag that is GOTS certified, and our luxurious Affina Organic Beach Towels, woven by some of the finest towel weavers in Portugal, were placed inside.

affina holiday organic towel gift set
Go Totally Sustainable With No Gift Wrap

When you are proud of your gift to the point that you’d instead let it shine without anything to obscure it, then leaving out gift wrap can be a great option. Leaving presents unwrapped is a way to celebrate simplicity and keep your Christmas waste at an absolute minimum. For an added touch, tie some organic cotton twill tape around the gift to make it look complete. Shown here is our 100% Organic Cotton 3-Pc Towel Sets rolled up into festive gift bundles.

Other ideas for presenting your unwrapped gifts are to tie up some ribbon in a bow, tie with organic cotton twill tape, and embellish with freshly picked greenery. Tying materials around gifts isn’t the only option you have, however. You can use stylish crates or boxes to present a gift set like bath products or drinks, like our Organic Bath Gift Set festively packaged in a recycled kraft box with a holiday leaf pattern bellyband.

Use this method to wrap a luxurious gift that encompasses self-care and slow living, like this Organic Bath Set.

Resources
Handmade Mulberry & Lokta Paper - Etsy, Blick Art Supplies
Jute Twine & Kitchen String - Etsy, Michaels Crafts
Natural & Paper Raffia - Michaels Crafts
Recycled Kraft & White Kraft Paper - Staples, and other Office and Paper Stores
Essential Oil Floral Bath Bombs - Etsy
Gift Tags - Buy recycled card stock paper and create your own, or check out Michaels Crafts, Jam Paper, PaperSource
Organic Cotton Drawstring Gift Bags - Etsy

About Us

We are designers with a love for the holidays and all things to do with family and home. We spent over 20 years developing collections of holiday gift wrap collections and accessories for Crate&Barrel. Prior to that, we designed gift wraps for Paper Plains, which were featured in Metropolis Magazine, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales store-wide Scandinavian promotion. We also designed the State of NJ’s holiday ornament for the White House Christmas tree. surfacecreative.com