Christmas all wrapped up

Ribbons, bows and wrapping are an indispensable part of Christmas. But all this new paper and plastic can come at a cost to the planet, and the festive season generates 25 per cent more landfill waste than usual. Here are ten tips that will help you create a beautifully wrapped present and do your bit for the environment at the same time.

Kirsten Westlake is the founder of 
Wrapsody, a bespoke gift-wrapping service which uses 100% recycled paper all year round.

1. Instead of buying rolls and rolls of wrapping paper, think about the passions of the recipient, then repurpose materials you may have around the house   try using old sheet music for a music lover, used maps for a travel junkie, or recipes for a foodie.

Newspaper, leftover wallpaper, and old book covers all make eye-catching alternatives too.

2. Get rid of sellotape, which is often petroleum-based, and rely instead on good old fashioned raffia, silk yarn, natural twine, or wool.

You need to make your folds in the paper very sharp and be pretty dexterous to make this work, but with practice your presents will hold together beautifully.

3. Look to other cultures  Furoshiki, the hottest trend in wrapping right now, is 400 years old and comes from Japan.

Using cloth rather than wrapping paper, Furoshiki uses a series or folds, twists and knots to wrap presents.

There are plenty of tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube to follow and with no cutting or sticking necessary, Furoshiki is perfect if festive wrapping usually gets you in a flap.

Choose beautiful material and the effect is simply stunning. 

4. Create your own eco-gift balls.

If you are wrapping small gifts like advent calendar presents, wrap them in wool, glittery yarn or tinsel to create a cocoon around the present about 1cm thick.

This disguises the shape of the present, means it can be hung on a tree and turns the unwrapping into a game which children in particular love – and you can re-use the wrappings.

5. Don't throw away torn, used wrapping paper and ribbon.

Instead, run it through a shredder and re-use it to create your own shredded paper a unique multi-coloured soft lining for gift boxes or bags.

6. Re-use last year’s Christmas cards, cutting the front covers to make customized gift tags.  

Cut into the desired shape, use a hole punch and then thread with colorful ribbon or string.

7. Deconstruct old Christmas decorations in the months leading up to Christmas and keep an eye out around the house for everyday items such as baubles, bells, cinnamon sticks, buttons, and brooches that can be used to brighten up shop bought gift tags. 

8. Bring nature indoors.

As you are walking outside, collect leaves, berries, twigs, and pine cones to create embellishments to stick onto presents or tie with wire into bows.

9. Wrapping doesn’t have to be disposable: it can be part of the gift – a watering can is perfect wrapping for gardening supplies, a mixing bowl excellent packaging for an aspiring chef, and baskets can be filled with any present and then re-used for shopping in the New Year.  

10. If you do go down the traditional wrapping paper route, check your sources.

Look for 100% recycled wrapping paper (often kraft paper) which is more widely available and more affordable than you might think.