A big part of giving a gift is the presentation - it makes it all feel more special. But did you know that most wrapping paper can't be recycled?
With Christmas fast approaching, gift shopping is in full swing. After many of us spent last year having to celebrate alone at home, this year is a great opportunity to spread festive cheer by giving our loved ones presents. A well-chosen, beautifully wrapped Christmas gift can be one of the nicest ways to show your appreciation to a friend or family member for being there for you through the past year. However, as we become more aware of the impact our waste can have, some people are choosing to opt for more eco-friendly choices when wrapping their gifts.
Consumers in the UK will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper this year. An average household will go through four rolls of wrapping paper, and most of that will end up in our bins. And whilst many may think that wrapping paper may be recyclable, it often isn’t - this is due to plastic in the paper (from glitter or laminates) and the amount of plastic sticky tape that usually covers it. This brings with it a troublesome problem: We want our gifts to look beautiful - a beautifully presented parcel sat under a tree is one of the key images of Christmas. But at the same time, it’s hard to wrap a gift in many layers of unrecycled paper and not feel a bit guilty. Many people may feel unsure how to deal with this problem. Do you wrap a gift, giving the giftee a few moments of happiness when opening, before the wrapping goes into landfill? Or do you not wrap, and risk having your gift look like an impersonal, last minute idea?
With studies showing that wrapped gifts are more warmly received, most of us are going to lean on the side of prioritising presentation. It’s an important part of the season, and leaving an unwrapped gift under a tree can ruin the surprise of Christmas day. However, there are many options to your standard wrapping paper for those of us wanting to make a swap. Here are a few options for those of us looking for an alternative to our standard wrapping paper.
The first alternative to standard wrapping paper is a straightforward one. The switch to recyclable gift wrapping can be quite simple - you don’t have to learn any new wrapping techniques or have your gift looking out of place under the tree. It might take an extra bit of looking to find, but recyclable wrapping paper is becoming more and more popular, and can even be found on the high street. You’ll also want to use recyclable tape with this paper. Washi tape, a popular craft tape popularised in Japan, is a great choice for this - the small rolls of paper tape often come in a variety of decorative patterns, great for sprucing up your wrapping. Plus, it can be recycled alongside the paper! Washi tape and recyclable wrapping paper can be found in most high street stationery shops such as Paperchase, Hobbycraft and WH Smith. Just be sure to let your lucky giftee know that the wrapping is 100% recyclable, to make sure it avoids general waste!
Gift bags are another simple alternative to wrapping paper. You might even already have some in your home, tucked away from previous years. If not, they can be found on any high street, and come in a range of festive designs. Gift bags can be reused again and again as they’re usually quite sturdy - this could be a great option if you’re looking to wrap gifts without having to buy anything new.
Depending on the size of your gift, a jar could be a strong alternative for wrapping paper. Jars work great for edible items or other objects that need to be kept airtight, or you could place gifts such as sewing supplies and stationery. Jars can be reused many times, and can be presented with a gift tag and ribbon to make it look more special.
Furoshiki is the Japanese art of decorative knot tying. Often used as a way to wrap gifts, furoshiki can be a unique way to make your present stand out beneath the tree. Though it may look difficult, furoshiki is deceptively simple. A knot here, a knot there, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful looking gift! If you don’t have any to hand, scarves and cloths for furoshiki can often be found in charity shops. Or you could use fabric offcuts or old sheets. A great benefit to furoshiki is that the scarf becomes a part of the gift in itself! It can be worn, displayed, or even used to tie their own knot wraps in future.
If you’re wondering how to get started, you can find a helpful video on how to tie furoshiki here.
By giving a gift in a basket, the wrapping becomes part of the gift itself. Using a basket that is woven from natural materials (such as rattan or bamboo) ensures even your gift ‘wrapping’ is eco-friendly, and a beautiful basket can be used as home decor all year round. If you're worried about your giftee being able to see the contents of the basket and ruin their surprise, you can always cover the opening with a cloth or scarf.
With many people taking the time to work on their homes over lockdown last year, you may have found yourself with a surplus of leftover wallpaper. If this is the case, excess wallpaper can make a beautiful alternative gift wrapping. It makes great use of paper that could otherwise go to waste, and your present is guaranteed to stand out under the tree! Don’t have enough wrapping paper to wrap all your gifts? You can always use it to create beautiful and unique gift tags instead.
Moving away from wrapping paper to a non-traditional wrapping method doesn’t mean that your gifts have to look impersonal, or like they were wrapped with no effort. Hopefully, these tips inspired you to create something both beautiful and sustainable when wrapping your gifts this year! Wrapping up the perfect gift is an exciting part of the season, and gives you a chance to get creative and have fun after the busy rush of Christmas shopping.