Less Bling, More Brown Paper & String

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Tips For Eco Friendly Christmas Wrapping
Whether you are a last minute dash to the shops, throw the paper on, cellotape in teeth kind of a person; or wrapped by 1st December, precise folds, silk bows kind of a person, chances are you do wrap your Christmas gifts in one fashion or another.

There is, of course, a colossal amount of waste produced either way, so whatever your wrapping style, try following these tips for a more eco friendly Christmas 2020.

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Brown kraft paper is one of the most cost effective and simple ways to wrap gifts, and large rolls are widely available to buy online. An additional benefit to having a bigger roll is that it will cover even the largest gifts. Look out for variations, you generally get the quality that you pay for. If you're on a budget go imitation kraft or spend more for ribbed brown kraft paper which gives a luxurious finish.

To keep things minimal, write your gift message straight onto the brown paper to avoid the need for tags. Add a flourish with a red pen, and your neatest calligraphy penmanship!

Budget - Hobbycraft Kraft Brown Wrapping Paper
Luxury - Gift Wrap It Ribbed Kraft Paper or Burrow & Nest Brown Paper


Add Bells
Invest in a spool of string or paper raffia ribbon, widely available online. At The Wise House I currently use three different types of string for the eco gift sets and Christmas gift wrap; red and white cotton string, plum hemp cord and green wool.

Tie up each gift in the traditional parcel way, or check out Pinterest for all sorts of stylish variations.

Little Cherry - Compostable Ribbon
Imaginediy - Hemp & Flax Cord & Bakers Twine

Photo 23-10-2020, 12 38 49

And Whistles
Forage for festive foliage for the final flourish on adult gifts. Plants like holly, dried flowers and rosehips all look lovely. A reader of this blog also suggested dried orange and cinnamon sticks, adding a gorgeous smell too!

Invest in a Christmas themed stamp so that you can customise your brown paper. Try The English Stamp Company for a wide choice for both paper and tags, including the option to personalise.


All That Glitters Ain’t Gold - Wrapping Paper Dos And Don’ts
If you still prefer the more traditional wrap with a festive print, try to avoid anything that is shiny or glittery as these papers won’t be recyclable. My dad was a printer by trade, and he told me that gold and silver are the most toxic inks to print with, so try to swerve those colours. 

Thankfully companies are waking up to this, and I have noticed that John Lewis/Waitrose and Paperchase have moved away from non recyclable wrap.

Do look for paper that is recycled as well as recyclable, which is often that with a brown kraft paper background. I am using some beautiful recycled Christmas paper at The Wise House this year, so that customers can choose to have their order sent wrapped and ready to go (see image below). For in-store/ high street try Paperchase and Barnados Charity Shop.

Gift Wrap It - Recycled Wrapping Paper
Paperchase - Kraft Christmas Wrap
Temptation Gifts - East Of India Recycled Paper


Work Some Christmas Magic With A Twist Of Fabric

Wrapping with fabric might sound like a newfangled idea, but in fact Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping technique that has been used across Asia for hundreds of years. Check out Pinterest or read this guide by Fabric Wrapping Co for different ways to tie your fabric.

Use scraps from home, or buy a suitable ream of fabric from your local haberdashery. The beauty is that you can cut a variety of sizes to suit different gift shapes. More importantly, you can reuse for many years, and save a great deal of waste and pennies in the process!

Add Bells
Custom made fabric wrap is now becoming more widely available, printed in a range of gorgeous patterns and colours. I noticed that even John Lewis are selling fabric gift bags. Try Tabitha Eve for a Christmas family bundle, one of which we bought last year to use for our close family gifts. They also sell fabric gift bags in gorgeous Christmas prints.


And Whistles
The Fabric Wrapping Co sell the most beautiful fabric wrap, complete with pom poms and silk fabric. Totally luxurious.

You can also add your own embellishments to a fairly plain fabric wrap from the contents of your sewing box - tassels, ribbon, buttons etc.

On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Said To Me - Reuse To Save Chopping Down Trees
We’ve talked a bit about reuse, which is of course the most eco friendly way to go. Take it to full eco geekdom status with the following ideas:

Use old magazines, newspaper and tissue to wrap gifts. For smaller presents I cut up large paper envelopes that I have received, as it works in the same way as brown paper wrapping. I send many of my orders in grass paper envelopes which would make lovely gift wrap. Check out this Pinterest board by Pebble Magazine for more inspiration (image below by Pebble Magazine).

Add Bells & Whistles
I save every scrap of ribbon, string and other nic nacs that I receive throughout the year and keep it all in a large tin. This is a great way to prevent non biodegradable embellishments like bows and ribbon from landfill. Dip into your tin every time you wrap a gift (and snatch it back again if you think the recipient is more likely to throw it away!). I’ve even kept the ribbon from the children’s medals!

Bye Bye Cello, Brown Tape ‘Hello’

Cellotape is horrible stuff quite frankly. Switch to brown paper tape now with nary a glance back! Cellotape sized brown paper tape rolls are now widely available. Try Eco Craft Self Adhesive Paper Tape.

Bells & Whistles
Upgrade to paper tape printed with Christmas designs, which looks particularly snazzy on plain brown paper wrap.

Papertree - Christmas Paper Tape
Naturally Wrapt - Paper Tape


Make Free Tags Your Bag

Tags can be an expensive way to let a person know who the present is for and from. You either ditch this step all together, particularly if you are handing over your gift in person, or try making your own.

Add Bells
A free way to make tags, and a tradition going back through the Rowe family, is to cut up the previous years Christmas cards. It takes a bit of time but children usually quite like to get involved, so it can become a family activity.

And Whistles
If you prefer your tags custom made for Christmas, look for manilla and/or recycled paper tags, following the same rules as with the wrapping paper. You could even paint or draw your own designs onto plain tags, for the personal touch.

With many of us having a bit more time on our hands, perhaps we can all get more creative this year! Leave a comment below with suggestions on wrapping ideas, or your thoughts on which tips you might use from the blog. You will be entered into a Prize Draw with a chance to win a Christmas gift wrapped Orange & Bergamont Soap On A Rope. For more eco gift ideas, shop The Wise House.


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  1. Emma Hester

    Thanks Lucy for the great ideas! We will definitely be using brown paper and paper tape this year. I remember when we were kids my mum alway used to save the Xmas cards and then the following year we would cut them up and use the front images to create the name tags for the presents. Using the pinking shears gave them a crinkly edge adding to the decoration.

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  2. Rebecca Beasley

    Love this. Was brought up in a house where you open gifts carefully to reuse what you can, now after a few years of having left, the time has come to finally buy some new. This year going for blue Kraft paper, and simply red/white cooking string, using the cardboard boxes from deliveries cut and painted as name tags! Lovely ideas in this blog post to add to it all. Merry (very early!) Christmas

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  3. Rosemary Fletcher

    Wonderful ideas Lucy, thank you! as well as saving ribbons etc for tying i have also used odd strips of material as ribbons, and for family members have made tags from old photos which might be of interest to them, writing greetings on the back.

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  4. Emma Mountain

    I love saving bits and bobs throughout the year to prettify my Christmas wrapping! I?ve also dried out orange slices and will cut some holly nearer the time to add

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  5. Jo

    Brilliant ideas, thank you Lucy. I?ve been a brown paper convert for a while but you?ve encouraged me to be more creative with scraps I have collected at home! And you?ve reminded me of a dear friend - she and I have passed the same gift bags back and forth to one another for years! ? I?ll refer her here!

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  6. Liz Macdowell

    My laundry is returned in brown paper. I save it and either wrap packages in it or print a festive pattern on it.

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