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Alternative Gift Wrap Ideas:

For Voluntary Simplicity, Thrift, and Fun



It almost looks like I tried

I’ve been stashing Christmas gifts since September. It’s not a formal shopping effort, but if I happen across anything cool and affordable that my kids will like, I grab it and stash it. There are hiding places all over the house--the weird space above my closet, under the stairs, sneaky spots in the basement, deep in my underwear drawer where the kids would rather eat garbage than look. Now it’s time to pull all of those goodies out and wrap them up.

Like nearly every other Xennial chick on the planet, I’ve spent--nay, invested--many an hour on Pinterest in search of fabulous projects to make me feel like a better human being in general. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to gorgeous gift-wrapping ideas, which is actually completely ridiculous because I have literally no intention of trying most of them.

In fact, I don’t usually buy gift wrap at all. There’s plenty of beautiful paper out there in the world, and I am a huge fan of paper and ephemera, but the sheer amount of wrapping paper you use when you’re wrapping holiday gifts for five people seems like a massive waste.

“What do you wrap your gifts with, Kristi?”

I’m glad you asked.

If possible, I start by reusing gift bags that were gifted to us. I don’t worry about whether it’s from Christmas, birthdays, or even a baby shower. I also use whatever gift wrap we have lying around, but I don’t use only that. I try to use as many creative repurposed and recycled materials as possible in my holiday gift wrapping.

There are a few benefits to this:

  • It’s a ton of fun to come up with clever gift wrapping ideas.
  • Gift recipients find it amusing.
  • It takes the pressure off of having to wrap perfect gifts.
  • It is a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Lowered expectations can be fun

Materials to Gather

If you’re interested in alternative gift wrapping, the sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to materials. If you can cover, secure, or decorate a gift with it, it works.

To Secure the Packages:

  • A glue gun for securing tricky materials
  • A freaking stapler
  • Duct tape
  • Washi tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • Any tape you can find, basically

Short on paper? Duct tape it to high heck

For Wrapping the Gifts:

  • Old school art from the kids-- the kind that takes up space until you hit the statute of limitations on guilt and throw it out
  • Gift wrap from thrift stores and garage sales for that sweet vintage vibe
  • Reused ribbon from past gifts and projects
  • Fabric ripped into strips that work as ribbons
  • Used coloring pages
  • Unused coloring pages-- we have a dozen coloring books that no one uses
  • Janky old kids’ books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Fabric scraps
  • Fabric that is also a gift. Giving a T-shirt? Wrap a gift in it and slip on a bow.

A cheap backpack used as wrapping paper

To Decorate the Gifts:

  • Stickers of all kinds
  • Scrapbooking supplies to bling them up
  • Sparkles, glitter, and other accessories
  • Old greeting cards and magazines

To Inspire You:

  • Coffee
  • Eggnog
  • Irish Cream
  • My favorite Google Music playlist
  • Snacks, snacks, and more snacks

Get the picture?

This is a great way to clean out your craft stash just in time for the new year, and it marries creativity, chaos, and fun. Don’t forget to add a tag so you don’t have to unwrap and rewrap everything like I did two years ago...thanks, Captain Morgan.

These days, I don’t even mess with gift tags most of the time. A plain old Sharpie does the trick.

Pro Tips:

  • If you don’t have quite enough paper, just duct tape or sticker over the open spot.
  • If you can see writing through the package, just take another coloring page over it.
  • If your kids appreciate being pranked like mine do, wrap up a few random non-gifts like bars of plain soap and their own socks.

The great thing about weird gift wrapping is that you can still use all those great Pinterest ideas as inspo, but you don’t feel obligated to duplicate them because let’s be honest, most of don’t have those skills.

Do you use alternative gift wrapping methods? What’s your favorite gift wrapping technique? Hit me up with your comments and have a beautiful holiday!


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Coffee Nebula

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Welcome to Coffee Nebula. We’re the Roe-Owen family, a family of creative, fun-loving geeks with a deep love of tomfoolery. I’m Kristi, a full-time content writer and blogger. Join our family’s adventures as we experiment with creativity, kindness, and fandom.

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  • Arthur, age 10, lowkey goth, artist, and pescatarian
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