Eco Advent Wrapping

Eco Advent Wrapping

Wrapping paper

Every million ton of wrapping paper used over Christmas equates to many more million trees.

Most wrapping paper is dyed, laminated and contains glitter, plastic or gold shapes, so it can’t easily be recycled. You can tell by trying to scrunch it up. It does not stay scrunched if it is mixed materials.

Waste management company Biffa, revealed that more than 100 million bags of rubbish are sent to landfills each year at Christmas.

Read on to find alternative ways to wrap your presents and have a green Christmas.



Advantage: There is a plentiful supply of this. Keep the paper on the present with string (remember that cellotape is plastic which cannot be recycled) and then the sheets can be recycled afterwards.

Disadvantage: your Christmas is rather black and white and when everyone has finished unwrapping their presents, their hands, their clothes, the sofa etc are covered in black newsprint.

I don’t recommend this one.

Reuse last year’s paper


Advantage: The presents look colourful and if you choose your paper carefully, no one can tell. Give everyone a pair of scissors to carefully cut the cellotape so that the paper can be removed intact and carefully folded and stored for next year. You can use old Christmas cards to make labels.

Disadvantage: you can’t be spontaneous as you need to have collected the paper from last Christmas. The wrapping paper does smaller each year, therefore so do your presents. Be careful to check that the paper does not have the names written on from the year before, otherwise at the present opening you end up with some very puzzled relatives, although actually it can be quite hilarious. Some swaps are obvious such as the young daughter can give grandad his socks and grandad can give the teenager her make up. Some present swaps are just not obvious, especially the chocolate. When this happens put all the presents on the table and let everyone choose what they fancy in turn. This actually works quite well and everyone will get the presents they want instead of what other people want to give them.

Make your own recycled paper


Advantage: it is fun to do and you can make up your own art work. Grandparents like to keep the paper as art work from their grandchildren so this is an additional present.

  • Take blank white paper and paint a repeating pattern on it- you could also make a repeating stamp from a potato.
  • Make your own recycled paper. Using good quality paper (newspaper ends up making stiff blotting paper), rip up paper into small pieces, liquidise it with water and then press it into a deckle (a flat rectangular sieve) and make your own. As the paper is drying you can press some string in to make a watermark – the initial of someone whose present you will wrap. It can also be painted. If you are organised in advance you can put dried flowers into the paper that you made in the summer.
  • Make a pâpier maché box. Can be reused after Christmas.


Disadvantage: the final paper is not very flexible and when making it you need to be careful not to break the liquidiser. (But if it does break- it’s OK as you can drop hints for someone to buy you one as a present and if it is not your liquidiser then it would be an ideal present to buy for the owner.) It is a bit messy and you have to be careful not to spread the soggy bits of paper around the kitchen. If you do spread wet paper everywhere then make sure you don’t leave it to dry to before you clear it up as it sets hard like glue.

It is time consuming but great fun and if you have young children then you can all make a mess together.

Knitted square


Knit a large square from left over wool and wrap presents with a bow.

Advantage: Easy to undo and can be reused many times.

Disadvantage: You will need to learn how to knit. You will also need to knit lots of different sized squares.



Advantage: Two presents in one. Most people won’t be impressed with a tea towel as a present but when it comes extra as wrapping paper then they will be delighted.

Disadvantage: Cost more and tea towels generally only come in one size.

Just had a thought- this would work with a dishcloth and that would be cheaper.



Many charity shops sell different size squares of fabric.

Advantage: Lots of different sizes. It looks bright and cheerful and can be reused next year. You also get to give to a charity at Christmas.

Disadvantage: Can’t think of any!

I hope you have been inspired not to contribute to the great Christmas Landfill heap and choose your wrapping carefully.


Give presents, save trees.

Reuse old wrapping paper

Don’t forget labels.

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