DIY Gift Wrapping

Wrapping paper is so much fun to tear off of presents, but it also generates a lot of waste. Very little of it is properly recyclable, and as soon as metallic foil, glitter, or coatings come into the picture, none of it can be recycled.

The easiest solution is to carefully peel off the tape in the hopes that you don’t damage the paper and it can be reused, but we all have that one relative who does that every time presents happen, and it drives everyone else nuts. Don’t be that guy.

The right way to do it? Wrap your gifts in a way that’s inherently sustainable, by using sturdy fabric and ribbon rather than single-use paper. Not only does it drastically reduce how much paper goes into the landfill, it’s much easier to wrap those awkwardly shaped or squishy presents. Just open the bag, put in your gift, and tie the ribbon closed. It’s really that simple!

Buy it premade

Support a small business and buy reusable fabric gift bags on Etsy.

Reuse something else

If you subscribe to a clothing box service like Stitch Fix or recently bought some nice shoes, they likely came with a drawstring bag. Use that!

Low cost DIY

Food Fun Family’s DIY Reusable Fabric Gift Bags has easy, step-by-step instructions with minimal sewing. Bonus points if you catch the ribbon and fabric during a post-Christmas sale! This is a great way to use up fabric and ribbon remnants, as well. And if you want to be extra ambitious or have a bunch of remnants too small to make a bag on their own, patchwork them together.

Each yard of fabric usually yields between 5 and 7 bags, and 9 yards of ribbon usually yields 4 to 5 ties.


  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors (rotary cutter and cutting mat recommended to reduce hand strain)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric

Note: This just has the ribbon tie around the bunched-up bag similar to a bread bag and twist tie. If you want a drawstring, Skip to my Lou has you covered with their DIY.

No cost DIY

Newspaper pages: we often use the comics, especially the color ones. Just be mindful of the ink rubbing off on the gift, or your fingers while you’re wrapping it.

Magazine pages: best if your gift could stain if wrapped in newspaper.

Packing paper: reuse paper filler from your online orders; the sheets are usually large enough to cover a shoebox-sized gift.

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