How to reduce waste at Christmas

About 10 years ago, I looked around our living room in the aftermath of present opening and felt a little sad. All that beautiful wrapping paper was laying strewn around the floor, used once and mostly never used again.
From that moment on, we wrapped our Christmas presents in newspaper and magazine pages. A decade later and everyone is used to our slightly quirky wrapping decision, we have lots of fun, choosing the right images for friends and family’s presents and I feel a lot less guilty.
Here are some ideas for alternative wrapping for you to try this year.

Newspaper or magazine

presents wrapped with magazine pages

I love wrapping with magazine and newspaper pages. There are some amazing adverts and images in them, especially on the lead up to Christmas. I often have a couple of home style magazines lying around at the end of the year. These are perfect as they often have a colour theme and the images are beautifully shot. I have great fun choosing the right image for the person I’m giving to.

Sheets of music

Last year I bought lots of old books of sheet music in our local Oxfam bookshop. They were a couple of pounds each at most and I wrapped lots of presents with them. You can actually buy wrapping paper that’s printed to look like this, so it’s great to be able to do it this way, recycle and help a charity at the same time.

Brown paper with additions

Brown paper is recyclable so it’s a great way to cut down on waste this Christmas. You can liven it up with vintage ribbons and homemade tags. Or you could use a white, silver or gold pen to write Christmas carol or song lyrics on the paper and then wrap it. Use washi tape to seal the present, that’s recyclable too.

Old maps

presents wrapped in old maps

As with sheet music, you can buy old maps very cheaply in second hand bookshops and charity shops. Maps are great for bigger presents too, as they’re often much bigger than newspapers or music sheets
You could use it for someone who loves to travel. Or, you could choose a map closer to home, that has a special meaning for them.

Brown cardboard box, gingerbread house

If you’re using boxes for your presents, you can turn a plain brown cardboard box into a gingerbread house with the help of felt tip pens (my fave!) or gel pens.

Vintage boxes

I love vintage boxes – they’re a bit of an obsession for me. So it makes perfect sense to use them for people’s presents. I found this gorgeous gift box in Weathered and Worn in Hadlow and bought the others on-line on ebay. I think it makes a present extra special if the wrapping is part of the gift.


Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping with fabric. There are specialist fabrics that you can buy to do this – I know that Lush sell them. You could also use a vintage scarf or handkerchief like I have here. That way it could be part of the present you’re giving. There are lots of videos online to explain how to do it.
Try this one for several different ideas

Children’s artwork

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with all the drawings and paintings your little ones come home with, this could be the answer. Use it to wrap presents for grandparents, aunts and uncles or proud Godparents. They get to ooo and ahh over the beautiful images and you don’t feel guilty because they’ve gone in the bin.

I hope you’ve found some ideas here that will inspire you to create less waste with your wrapping this Christmas.
I’d love to see what you’ve done and hear if you have any other ideas. Please comment below if you do.

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