Eco-Friendly Reusable Gift Wrap Ideas

Heather Dessinger

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Gifts wrapped in front of fireplace with stockings hanging above

I love buying (and making) holiday gifts, but figuring out exactly how to cut the wrapping paper for each package feels like a geometry pop quiz, and somehow my phone always rings when I have tape stuck to my fingers. Plus, despite “paper” being in the name, wrapping paper is often coated in glitter, plastic, foil print, and other stuff that make it impossible to recycle.

In the United States, we collectively spend about $2.6 billion per year on the stuff, which means millions of pounds end up in landfills each year. (1)(2)

That’s why for the last few years I’ve been testing and collecting reusable gift wrap options. They’re better for the environment AND they’re so much easier to work with.

Now, instead of wrapping nearly everything last minute because I avoid the task as long as possible, I quickly wrap gifts as I buy (or make) them and place them under the Christmas tree. My kids inspect each one as it arrives, and I love seeing how it builds their sense of joy and anticipation.

Below are some of my favorite reusable gift wrap ideas – some are super simple (like cloth gift bags) while others are more elegant (like furoshiki wrapping, which I’ll explain below). 

Up close view of eco-friendly, reusable cloth gift bags

Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

There’s pretty much nothing easier than slipping a gift into a cotton or burlap gift bag, adding a gift tag, and tying it up with ribbon. Here are my favorites:

Small & Medium Bags

Appleby Lane 100% Cotton Gift Bags 5-pack– This standard size set comes with two 8×10 and three 12×16 bags and four colors (red, gold, blue and black). They’re perfect for small to medium gifts. (Quick note: Appleby Lane used to sell an extra large version of the red bags, which is what is pictured above. For an extra large bag like the red striped one in the photo, this is roughly the size to look for.)

Appleby Lane 100% Cotton Gift Bags 3-pack – This set comes with two 16×20 and one 12×16 bags and is available in blue, gold, or black. It’s their largest size, but I’d say it’s more of a medium compared to the gift bags in the next section.

Red & White Cotton Drawstring Gift Bags 3-Pack (16×20) – I don’t have these (yet!) but according to the reviews they’re sturdy and well-made.

Up close view of burlap gift bags

Burlap & Plaid Santa & Reindeer Sacks (16×22) – If Santa is a part of your tradition, these are highly rated and super cute.

Burlap tote bag 8-pack – These totes stand up on their own and are super cute. They’re not as wide as paper gift bags, but they work well for a wide range of items. I recommend using recyclable tissue paper and saving/reusing until it needs to be replaced.

Burlap drawstring bag 10-pack – These 12×6 bags are great for small to medium gifts like books, self care products, kitchen tools and more.

Burlap wine bag 12-pack – I love these slim bags for gifting natural wine, high quality olive oil, or fire cider. These look like a great option, too.

Variety of wrapped gifts on kitchen countertop

Large & Extra Large Bags

A few years ago I bought large bags from Appleby Lane that are perfect for big gifts. They’re not available anymore, but below are some options that are similar. I’ve listed them by size, from smallest to largest:

What I tried and didn’t love: Where I live, I can buy oysters to hand shuck for gatherings. They come in large burlap bags, so over the years I’ve collected a few that I’ve repurposed as gift bags. I love them so much I tried to order some more, but these large burlap bags had such a strong chemical odor I returned them. I’m still looking, though!

Non-Holiday Gift Bags Options

A few of the gift bags above are made with designs that will work for non-holiday gifts like birthdays, but here are some more to consider:

Furoshiki-style wrapped gift

DIY Gift Wrapping With Furoshiki Cloth

In Japan, cloth is used to wrap gifts and carry essentials using a technique called furoshiki wrapping. If you have old scarves or scraps of cloth around, this is an easy method to get started with and the results are gorgeous.

If you’re like me, you may love this technique so much that you find yourself collecting scarves from secondhand shops throughout the year to use for birthday and holiday gifts. They can be used again and again within your immediate household, or given to recipients as part of the gift.

Here are some tips for getting started:

Reusable Gift Boxes

These stackable gift boxes come in a variety of sizes, and the smaller ones can be stored in the largest one for easy storage when not in use. They’re made with virgin pulp paper stock that is reusable, non-toxic, chlorine-free, and bleach-free, safe for the environment.

These foldable gift boxes with attached satin ribbon are sturdy enough to be used year after year, and when you’re done with them the paper board is 100% compostable/recyclable.

More Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Tips

  • Wrap olive oil, vinegar, or wine in a tea towel with a beautiful pattern and tie it up with a bow
  • Reuse brown paper bags as gift wrap by turning them inside out (where the print doesn’t show). Leave them plain and tie up with butcher twine/ribbon, or decorate the outside with stencils. (If the gift is for grandparents, letting the grandkids decorate the outside is another great option.)

Decorative Additions

I keep a variety of things on hand to add a decorative flourish to gifts, including:

Homemade Gift Ideas

25+ Handmade Gift Ideas – Do you want to make gorgeous, handcrafted gifts without stressing yourself out? Well then, this article is for you! These gift ideas are easy to make, require no special skills, and turn out beautifully.

We’ll cover body care gifts like lotion bars, homemade candles and other gifts for the home, and culinary gifts like vanilla extract and chai tea mix.

reusable storage bags

The Best Reusable Storage Bags for Your Kitchen – Want an easy and simple alternative to single-use plastic baggies like Ziploc? Here are my top three favorite reusable bags, including pros/cons, and the best ways to use them.

Up close view of eco-friendly wrapped gifts

FREE Ebook: DIY Body Care Gifts Made Simple

Do you want to give gorgeous, handcrafted gifts for family and friends, without spending a bunch of time on them?

Then I’d love to give you a free copy of DIY Body Care Gifts Made Simple – my step-by-step guide to making gorgeous handcrafted gifts without stressing yourself out – as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. I’ll show you how to make vintage labels, luxurious lotion bars, lip balms, sugar scrubs, body sprays and more like a pro. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be redirected to the download page immediately!


  1. Jordan Rosenfeld (2021) How Much Should You Really Spend on Wrapping Paper?
  2. Scientific American (2019) Gift Wrapping Is Effective Future Trash

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

Leave a Comment

5 thoughts on “Eco-Friendly Reusable Gift Wrap Ideas”

  1. I have been using homemade and store bought fabric bags for years for birthdays and Christmas! We love it! It makes everything so much easier and way less messy!

  2. 5 stars
    There are some wonderful ideas here. I think our family was the first to decide decades ago, to re-use wrapping paper and bows. I remember one year, my daughters’ in laws came to Christmas and they were disgusted to see re-used paper for the gifts. (They were hoity toity San Diegans) And didn’t understand why we didn’t just throw away the paper afterwards, but collected it all in paper bags to be equally distributed to all of the families, including the bows! But I really love the fabric bags and recovered boxes ideas. I have been collecting Christmas fabric to make my own bags and covered boxes. We either let the receiver keep the bag/box to use next year, or they give them back to be reused by us again.
    The Pillow case idea is also a nice one: I would use either organic cotton in colors or bamboo, and stencil using rubber stamps (Christmas or birthday or just decorated ones ) I have with fabric paint.