I Never Buy Wrapping Paper—I Do This Instead

Six DIY solutions with things you already have lying around the house.

December 21, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Welcome to Nifty, Gifty Holidays, our guide for all the little, magical ways we make the season sparkle. Today, we’re highlighting some of our favorite ways to wrap gifts with thoughtful items you can find around the house.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re wrapping the last few items in your stack of holiday gifts when you reach the end of the wrapping paper roll. Dang. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably doing this late at night and aren’t in the mood to go to the store, so it’s time to get crafty.

There are several ways you can create a lovely wrapped gift using random items you have lying around the house. Here are six of our favorite new ways to do just that―I don’t think I’ll be buying any new wrapping paper anytime soon.

Upcycle Old Sweaters

Need a last-minute gift bag? Dig into that pile of clothes headed to the donation bin and pull out any sweaters. A Homemade Living explains you can create a beautiful, unique bag by simply cutting off a sweater sleeve, turning it inside out, and sewing up the opening. Flip it right-side out, put the gift inside, and tie it closed with a ribbon. Upcycling, for the win!

Spruce Up Some Lunch Bags

Have a minimalistic holiday with these paper lunch bag gifts. The Beauty Dojo has the great idea of stamping or writing cute phrases on paper lunch bags, then folding them shut and tying them closed with a little bit of twine. So sweet.

Try Japanese Fabric Wrapping

If you ever want to get lost in a Pinterest hole, try searching for furoshiki, the Japanese art of fabric wrapping. This no-waste wrapping technique uses squares of fabric to create quaint, picturesque gifts, and you can find tutorials on how to wrap gifts of all shapes and sizes. The end result is so beautiful you may want to exclusively use fabric instead of wrapping paper from now on.

Dress Up the Day’s Newspaper

Wrapping gifts in newspaper may seem like a cop-out, but it can be quite lovely if you do it correctly. Try using thick ribbon, twine, and sprigs of seasonal greenery to jazz up your front-page wrapping job.

Incorporate Kitchen Towels

If you can bear to part with one of your kitchen towels, they make a great DIY wine bag. The Everygirl shows two simple ways you can wrap up a wine bottle in a tea towel, creating the perfect little present to place under the tree. And hey, now you have an excuse to buy those new kitchen towels you’ve been eyeing.

Paper Roll-Turned-Bitty Gift Box

You might do a little double-take here, because these gift boxes are just so cute. No way they could be made from toilet paper rolls…but they are. Just fold the ends in and wrap ribbon around the bitty box for an unbelievably pretty presentation that doubles as an easy recycling opportunity.

What's your favorite DIY wrap solution? Share your ideas with us below!

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


Gammy August 3, 2019
Our family makes gift bags out of scrap fabric. Works for little gifts, works for huge gifts.
Sometimes we turn down the top to make a channel to thread a ribbon through to be pulled tight. Sometimes we just gather the neck and wrap a ribbon or thick yarn around it. I have a stack of fabric bags I use every Christmas and collect once they have been emptied. I just keep recycling year after year.
Connie December 27, 2018
I use scarves I pick up at thrift shops or estate sales to wrap gifts. Often $1 or less each! And it’s another gift!
Lynn H. December 23, 2018
I think that I would rather spend a couple of extra bucks on wrapping paper then to pull a sweater meant for donation to someone with less just so I can look craft at gift wrapping
Panfusine December 21, 2018
I adopted the idea from this article of wrapping with a scarf for my food52 Holiday swap. a wonderful classy classy tip!
Eleanor M. December 21, 2018
I pick up vintage tea towels whenever I see them, particularly love the ones with embroidered sayings like "bake on wednesday." They work wonderfully for wrapping.
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Camryn R. December 22, 2018
Such a good idea!