Two Dozen Ideas for Eco-Friendly Gift Packaging

DIY Gift Bag Tutorial

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!

Gift Bags

Drawstring bags

  • drawstring gift bagsThese 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 pocketTurn 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.

DIY Gift Bag Tutorial

  • paper gift bagDid 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 bagFood packaging makes a surprisingly useful gift bag, and the plain cardboard is a fine canvas for embellishment–especially for kid art!
  • brown paper bagEven a brown paper bag looks adorable with the right embellishment.

Gift Boxes

Recycled Valentine's Day Crafts

  • oatmeal canister gift boxYou’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 boxHere’s a super fun way to package a small gift–make it look like a little milk carton!
  • DIY heart-shaped boxUse the paper template to print and fold a heart-shaped box from colored cardstock.

Coffee Can Gift Box

  • coffee can gift boxA coffee can is the perfect gift box for homemade treats!
  • toilet paper tube gift boxPackage small treats inside, and use tissue paper and lots of embellishments to make the outside look like the good kind of chaos.
  • DIY pillow boxA pillow box is the perfect size for a small gift or a gift card.

Wrapping Paper

Chalkboard Gift Wrap

  • chalkboard gift wrapDid 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 paperJazz up plain paper with DIY stamps.

Tags and Embellishments

How to Make Reusable Chalkboard Gift Tags

  • reusable chalkboard gift tagNever 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 bowFollow this tutorial to make a beautiful bow out of any paper… but colorful magazine pages look really great!
  • confetti gift topperDouble-sided tape and all the little bits from your hole punch turn a gift into a party!

DIY Washi Tape

  • DIY washi tapeIf 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.

9 DIY Gift Wrapping Ideas: Junk Mail Gift Tags

  • security envelope gift tagsYou’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 tagsGrab some cardstock and your sewing machine and stitch someone something special.
  • stamped clay gift tagsUse 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!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

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