Think outside the (brand-new, laminated cardboard, single-use) gift box when it comes to ideas for eco-friendly gift packaging. Upcycled papers, stash supplies, and cardboard from the recycling bin can all be of service to create gift packaging that’s unique and fits your personality way better than anything you can buy new. There are so many ideas for beautiful, serviceable, eco-friendly packaging to thwart Big Wrapping Paper!
Whether you like natural or upcycled materials, reusable or guilt-free disposable solutions, I’ve got a ton of ideas for you!
- drawstring gift bags. These simple gift bags are sewn from scrap fabric, with a ribbon drawstring. Make them in any size you desire, and monogram or embellish them any way you please. After the gift is given, they’re super useful to hold all the things!
- add a denim pocket. Turn a plain gift bag into something extra special by hot gluing the back pocket from an old pair of jeans to the front–then put candy or a gift card in the pocket. Go even bigger by using more upcycled denim to make a matching bow.
- DIY padded mailing envelope. Mailed gifts don’t have to be boring, either! Here’s how to DIY a padded mailer using mostly upcycled materials. The only new supply that you need is bubble wrap, and even that is fairly easy to source second-hand, or at least it is if you get as many packages in the mail as I do, ahem.
- paper gift bag. Did you know that you can make a paper gift bag from almost any paper? Wrapping paper is a cute option, but I also like blueprints, wallpaper, scrapbook paper, and vintage sheet music.
- cereal box gift bag. Food packaging makes a surprisingly useful gift bag, and the plain cardboard is a fine canvas for embellishment–especially for kid art!
- brown paper bag. Even a brown paper bag looks adorable with the right embellishment.
- oatmeal canister gift box. You’ll definitely want to embellish this with decoupage or paint, but if you’re motivated, you could turn an empty oatmeal canister into an heirloom-quality reusable gift box.
- milk carton gift box. Here’s a super fun way to package a small gift–make it look like a little milk carton!
- DIY heart-shaped box. Use the paper template to print and fold a heart-shaped box from colored cardstock.
- coffee can gift box. A coffee can is the perfect gift box for homemade treats!
- toilet paper tube gift box. Package small treats inside, and use tissue paper and lots of embellishments to make the outside look like the good kind of chaos.
- DIY pillow box. A pillow box is the perfect size for a small gift or a gift card.
- chalkboard gift wrap. Did you know that the ubiquitous brown paper bag is a superb surface for chalk? Wrap your present in plain brown paper, then make it beautiful with chalk pastels. To keep it from smudging, spritz a bit of hair spray over the finished design.
- interactive gift wrap. Do you have one of those families in which everyone has to take turns opening gifts? Mediate that agonizing wait by making your wrapping paper interactive! These ideas are all easy to implement using stash or upcycled materials.
- stamped wrapping paper. Jazz up plain paper with DIY stamps.
Tags and Embellishments
- reusable chalkboard gift tag. Never buy a single-use gift tag again! Make a set of chalkboard gift tags, store them between holidays with a chalk marker, and you’re set for life.
- magazine page gift bow. Follow this tutorial to make a beautiful bow out of any paper… but colorful magazine pages look really great!
- confetti gift topper. Double-sided tape and all the little bits from your hole punch turn a gift into a party!
- DIY washi tape. If you’ve got sticker paper, you’ve got the means to make custom washi tape out of all your cutest papers.
- hand-embroidered gift tags. Put some extra time and attention into embroidering beautiful gift cards by hand. Download and print these patterns, or go rogue and design your own!
- fabric-dyed gift tags. Are you a summer tie-dyer? Next year, use the remnants of dye to embellish lots of pretty paper products for gift-giving. These gift tags embellished with fabric dye are perfectly unique, and use up that last little pesky bit of waste.
- security envelope gift tags. You’re not going to use that envelope that came with your water bill, so you might as well upcycle it! Security envelopes have patterns inside that are surprisingly lovely, and they make excellent gift tags or small gift envelopes.
- stitched cardstock gift tags. Grab some cardstock and your sewing machine and stitch someone something special.
- stamped clay gift tags. Use air-dry clay or homemade salt dough.
Do you have your own awesome eco-friendly gift packaging tricks and tips? Tell us about them in the Comments below!