Green Your Holidays with Fabric Wrapping Paper

Green Your Holidays with Fabric Wrapping Paper

The holidays are always an exciting time around here, but I always hated the waste of the season—especially wrapping paper and bows. Now, each year we have our gifts under the tree without any wrapping paper, tape, or plastic ribbon: we use fabric!

When my son started receiving gifts from relatives by mail for his first Christmas, I realized that I could stop the waste by simply refusing to use wrapping paper and ribbons and bows like I always had. Instead, I raided my fabric closet for green and red cottons and knits. I used pieces of cloth ribbon from my stash to hold the wrapping on the gifts. They looked beautiful, and were easy for a baby to open himself. Success!

How to Green Your Holidays

That first “Cloth Christmas,” I used what I had on hand. The next year, I ran through my pieces so fast that I ended up getting some fun Santa prints from the fabric store. The pile I have now of festive fabric and ribbons has gotten us sustainably through seven Christmases, and I plan to keep it going for many more.


To wrap the gifts, you can just do a simple wrap and depend on the ribbons to hold them together, or do some cute knots in the Japanese Furoshiki style. I usually do a mix of both ways depending on the size and shape of each gift.

A tower of cloth-wrapped gifts, some with ribbons, and some done Furoshiki style.

Prepping the Materials

To keep the cotton fabric from fraying, I usually run the edges through my serger. On some pieces, I never got around to finishing the ends, and it hasn’t been a big deal since the edges are all wrapped up and only revealed when the gift is opened–and then who looks at the wrapping, right?

On the ribbons, as you can see in the picture above, I should take a lighter to the edges to stop them from fraying. This is especially true because I use homemade card-stock tags for labeling, and I have to get the ribbon through the tiny hole punched in them (and before you even ask, those tags get recycled every year as well!).

Storing and Reusing

The most beautiful part of using fabric wrapping paper is on Christmas morning. Instead of a trash bag full of non-recyclable glossy paper, I have a pile of fabric I can fold up, seal in a vacuum bag, and pop in the basement to store until next year.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Gifts next to the Christmas tree wrapped in fabric.
Just as much fun, without the waste.

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