back   BACK

5 Unique & Inexpensive Ways to Wrap a Gift

The holiday season is here, and with it, the season of giving – and receiving! And what could be better than a beautifully presented gift? Whether you’re the gift-giver or recipient, there’s something so special about a perfectly wrapped present just waiting to be unwrapped – but the cost of wrapping paper and supplies, not to mention the environmental impact, can put a damper on holiday cheer. 

Did you know that most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable or biodegradable? It’s a fact that may surprise you – wrapping paper is made from paper, after all. But if your gift wrap contains any foil or metallic flakes, shiny coating, or other decoration, into the trash it goes along with any synthetic ribbon, string, bags, or bows. So, what options do you have besides wrapping your gifts with plain, recyclable paper? The good news is there are plenty of fun and creative ways to wrap gifts that are both eco-friendly AND budget-friendly, and best of all – FUN. Because who wants to spend more on the wrapping than the gift? If you and your kiddos have gifts waiting to be wrapped, read on for some out-of-the-box gift-wrapping ideas.

Apple (or Potato) Prints

Apple printing – or apple stamping – is a fun way for kids to create their own holiday pattern on wrapping paper using apples, tempera paint, and craft paper or plain paper bags. To make an apple stamp, follow these directions (you can choose to use the shape of your apple as the stamp, or cut a design into the apple). For an even more budget-friendly version of this craft, swap out the apples for potatoes, and carefully cut a design into it – this how-to lays out the steps. Once your apple- or potato-printed paper is dry, wrap up your gifts! 

Image via Waste4Change

Fabric Gift Wrap (Also Known As Furoshiki)

In Japan, wrapping gifts in square pieces of fabric is called “Furoshiki”. Fabric is an unexpected and pretty way to wrap gifts – and in many instances, there’s no need for ribbon or tape! You can use fabric you have on hand or consider using a colorful silk scarf (you can find budget-friendly options at thrift stores) or tea towel to personalize your gift even more – you could even combine this wrapping technique with the apple prints and create a hand-printed tea towel to wrap your gift in. For four unique fabric wrapping techniques, check out this video.

The Comics

What could be more classic than wrapping a gift in the funny pages? A page of colorful Sunday comics is perfect to use for wrapping up a gift for a child or for your funniest friend or family member. If you receive the Sunday paper, set aside the comics section to use for gift wrap (if you’re wrapping a child’s gift, you may want to scan the content to be sure you approve), and if you don’t get the paper, your local library may be willing to set aside back issues for you. Similarly, magazine pages can be a fun way for teens to wrap gifts. Just find a colorful page and get wrapping.

Image via Compost & Cava

Paper Shopping Bags

Chances are you have more than a few paper shopping bags around the house. Before you place them in the recycling bin, consider using them as wrapping paper instead. Use scissors to cut the bags open, and if they have a design on the outside, wrap your gifts with the plain side facing out. To give your homemade wrapping paper some pizazz, have your kids paint designs and patterns on it beforehand using non-toxic paint and paintbrushes (or their fingers!), or use the apple or potato technique above. Allow your paper to dry before you wrap with it.

Image via The Spruce Eats


Homemade gift baskets are fun to assemble and unique to receive – but the cost can add up quickly. Instead of using expensive baskets, stop by your local thrift store for unique and budget-friendly options. Even if you’re not putting together a full gift basket, a basket or pretty box can still be a beautiful way to give a gift. Add some white tissue paper or patterned fabric to add a personal touch.

Of course not all gifts require wrapping and some of the most meaningful gifts of all don’t even have a price tag. Talk to your kiddos about giving their time, such as spending quality time with family and friends, writing a personalized letter, or helping a family member with a task (like shoveling snow). Unique gifts can also be made: children could frame their artwork (check out the thrift store for budget-friendly picture frames), give framed school photos, bake cookies, or make a craft to give. A little creativity and a lot of fun combined with these unique wrapping ideas above will give your kids a neat way to create meaningful gifts and memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Sign Up for Our e-Newsletter!

Join our email list and stay up to date on blogs, activities, resources and more from the Alfond Scholarship Foundation/My Alfond Grant!