Sustainable Holiday Gift Wrapping and Decorating Ideas

Are you looking for simple ways to cultivate more sustainable holiday traditions?

Rethinking our decorations, tree trimming and gift wrapping is a good place to start. Traditional holiday ornaments, gift wrapping paper, tape, ribbons and trimmings often contain plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, every year creating a massive increase in our already excessive waste flow. And that’s not even to mention the expense. People in the U.S. spent a total of 12.7 billion on gift wrap in 2017.

We believe there are plenty of ways to spend and waste less, without compromising our holiday joy! As symbols of the season, our holiday decorations can evoke warm memories and associations that last a lifetime. What better way to experience this than to allow ourselves the time to create simple, sustainable holiday trimmings and gift wraps? These are all activities that can be shared with a child, a friend, or enjoyed as some quiet time alone.

Sustainable Trimmings

Here’s one that barely needs explanation, the classic peanut butter and bird seed on a pine cone, hung on a branch outside for the creatures to enjoy. It’s ideal if you can view it from a window! This is a simple and satisfying activity for children of all ages.

Be creative with your greenery! It’s really fun to forage for evergreens to bring into the house. Just a few clippings of pine, cedar, holly, juniper (with its beautiful frosted blue berries!), magnolia or anything outside your door does wonders on the mantle or as a centerpiece. It doesn’t take much! If you don’t happen to have holly berries close by, you can use apples or pomegranates for a red accent. And it can all be composted (or eaten) at the end of the season.

Make some sourdough gingerbread men and save a few for tree ornaments. All you need to do is make a small hole with a toothpick at the top before baking, and then tie a string for hanging once it’s done.

Sustainable Gift Wrapping

For some fun, zero-waste gift wrapping, try using cloth. Tie with string, twine, or knot the fabric itself. You can even make the wrapping part of the gift by using a dish towel, a t-shirt or hat, etc. Lady Farmer napkins and produce bags work great for this as well!

For paper wrapping, recycled construction paper, grocery bags and old newspaper are old favorites. You don’t even have to use tape, just fasten the ends by tying it up with twine or string. Add color accents by cutting up old holiday cards and using as gift tags, or use markers to add your own designs to the paper. Brown paper lunch bags wrapped around small objects like a book or a pair of socks, and tied with twine are really cute, too. We love accenting our packages with small bits of greenery. Sprigs of evergreen herbs like rosemary and thyme look beautiful and add fragrance as well.

The Joy of Simple Holiday Decorating

Making things with our hands, enjoying the sensory experiences of the season and handling natural materials can calm and ground us in the midst of the culture chaos that surrounds the holidays. In shifting towards simplicity in your seasonal celebrations, you will create less expense, less waste and more good feelings and memories for your loved ones. And isn’t that all we really want for Christmas?