By November, my Christmas shopping is usually done and dusted, presents wrapped, ready and waiting. I then spend the next three weeks itching to tell everyone what I’ve bought them for the big day.
I really do love gifting, spending time choosing a present and making it look beautiful with my wrapping.
But this year, I’m trying to be a little more sustainable with my gift wrap, rather than spending £30 on 12 different rolls of wrapping paper and matching tags.
Some people might consider brown paper somewhat boring, but I see it as a blank canvas – and last year, my gifts looked better than ever, as well as being kind to the planet.
Since I’m so behind on Christmas this year, and may well be wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, these snaps are from last year – but I wanted to share some of my top tips for jazzing up your sustainable Christmas wrapping to really wow your friends and family.
Choose your paper
I love a simple brown kraft paper, because it’s really cheap, versatile and, if you run out you won’t struggle to get your hands on another roll if you want everything to match.
However, this year, Sainsbury’s also have some really beautiful sustainable papers, that are even without the plastic wrapping they tend to come in. I’ve picked up a red kraft paper, which feels suitably seasonal, as well as a recyclable patterned paper.
You can usually tell if your wrapping paper is recyclable by scrunching it – if it stays scrunched, it’s likely okay – but if it unfolds seemingly unscathed, steer clear.
Another option I love, especially as a journalist, is newspaper. Although, I wouldn’t wrap any clothes in newspaper because of print transfer, but anything boxed looks fab in it! In a previous year, I used (non-sustainable) leopard wrapping paper and newspaper, and the combination looked so cool.
This is my absolute go-to wrapping method, because it’s so easy to do but looks amazing. You don’t need anything fancy to create this look, just paper, scissors and tape.
Cut your wrapping paper as wide as you need it to be, and around five inches longer than you usually would. Then working from the bottom, make a fold about an inch wide and then fold again until you have around five or six folds.
Flip over the paper so it is patterned side up. Pinch each crease and fold flat to create pleats. Flip the paper back over to secure them with tape.
Position the pleats in the centre of the gift and wrap using double sided sticky tape. You can then define the pleats by running your finger down the edge to lift them slightly.
If I’ve not pleated a gift, I’ll use this criss cross method instead, which I find works best with rectangular gifts that are more than an inch deep – like books.
Place the gift in the center of the wrapping paper and ensure there is enough paper at the top to reach the edge of the top of the gift. Then make sure there is enough paper at the bottom to cover 3/4 of the gift when folded from the bottom, upwards.
At the bottom of the gift, push the sides of the paper in to create triangular shapes. You can crease these in order to keep them in position.
To create the criss cross, take the uppermost triangle on the left and fold it inwards. Then repeat on the right taking it over the left one. Then take the bottom triangle on the left and fold upwards, repeating again on the right. You can complete the wrapping by sealing the final open edge like any other gift.
You can then use the little criss cross pockets to add decoration – which I’ll talk more about below – or you can insert a smaller gift. If you’re gifting a book, I think it’s a great idea to tuck in a bookmark to hint at the present.
To spruce up my wrapping, I like to add dried flowers to my gifts, which add a pop of colour to the brown paper. I usually buy a bundle on Etsy and I even have some left over from last year.
I also like to add a festive wax seal to the gifts, which tends to match the flowers too. This year, I’m using pink and gold as I still have lots of wax left over from last year.
Other ways to glam up your kraft paper include using stamps – I like to use my paw print stamps if a gift is for, or from, the dogs. And this year, I’ve also ordered some brown pheasant feathers to add in with my dried flowers, which looks very cottage-y.
My handwriting is awful, so it’s very rare I’ll handwrite a tag if it’s going to be visible.
Last year, I used my Dymo label maker to stamp out everyone’s name on their gifts, adding ‘Merry Christmas’ if it looked a bit lost.
But to keep things sustainable, you could reuse your old Christmas cards and turn them into labels – I’ve donated my Christmas card tags to charity for them to raise money this December, as I made hundreds of them last January. But these do look very cute peeking out of the criss cross style wrapping, and each one is different!