Less Bling, More Brown Paper & String

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6 Tips For Eco Friendly 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, try following these tips to become up a less wasteful, more eco geeky kind of person.


1. Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String


Brown paper is a traditional and extremely cost effective ways to wrap gifts. Large rolls are widely available to buy online, with the added bonus that they will cover all sizes of gift. If you're on a tight budget go for imitation kraft or spend more for ribbed brown kraft paper with a thicker, more luxurious finish.

You and the children can have fun decorating the paper. You could also write your gift message straight onto the paper to avoid the need for tags. 

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. For The Wise House Eco Gift Sets and Christmas Gift Wrap I use red and white stripey string. Tie up each gift in the traditional brown paper and string parcel way as above, 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

Add Whistles

Get out into the Great Outdoors and forage! Plants like holly, rosehips and ivy are plentiful and look beautiful as decoration on both wrapping and around the house. Dried orange and cinnamon sticks add a gorgeous smell too, and can be used again by the recipient once they have unwrapped their gift.

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.


2. All That Glitters Ain’t Gold - Wrapping Paper Dos And Don’ts

  • Avoid buying paper wth a high gloss or glitter content as they are NOT 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 avoid paper with those colours. 

  • Look for 100% recyclable wrap. John Lewis/WaitrosePaperchase & WHSmtihs all have some great options.

  • Look for paper that is recycled (as well as recyclable). I use beautiful recycled Christmas grass paper wrap, see below. Customers can choose to have their order sent wrapped and ready to go when shopping at The Wise House, including a blank brown manilla tag which can be left blank for your message or I can write a message for you.

Photo 11-11-2021, 13 43 39

3. 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.


Add 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.

4. On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Said To Me, Reuse To Save Chopping Down Trees...La La La

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:


I have to say I avoid using NEW paper wrap whenever and wherever I can. Luckily I get given lots of second hand packaging from my local community, and this tends to include pristine quality paper filler which is perfect as gift wrap. Just flatten it out, add a few stamps and embellishments, as above, and you are ready to go. Everyone is looking to save money and reuse what they have these days, so your efforts will be admired rather than distained, and you will be giving people ideas.

You can also use old magazines, newspapers 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 wrap. 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. 

It's a great opportunity to get creative and save money. In the realms of wrapping, I truly believe it is possible to spend nothing at all unless you feel you want to.

5. Bye Bye Cello, Brown Tape ‘Hello’


It's only when you start using brown paper tape that you realise how horrible cellotape is. The simple budget option is plain brown tape, widely available online.

Add Bells & Whistles

To switch things up a bit, go for decorative paper tape. This year, for the first time, I have in stock gorgeous paper tape at The Wise House - in both narrow and wide sizes - perfect for presents and parcels alike. Last few remaining in stock.

 1512x1512 (1)

6. 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 altogether, particularly if you are handing over your gift in person, or make your own which is very easy.

Add Bells

A free way to make tags, and a tradition going back through my 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. Simply cut out the pictures in any shape that you want to. Ours are usually all sorts of shapes and sizes and imperfect but it all adds to the charm.

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. I recently came across this device that punches out different sized tags. For a £20 outlay you will have a way to easily make tags throughout the year. 

For eco gifts, including patterned brown paper tape and customised Gift Sets tied with string, shop The Wise House. Enjoy 15% off with code BROWN10.

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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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