Try maps, recycled book pages, paper bags and other alternatives to wrapping paper for a special and eco-friendly touch this season.
Wrap with maps
Wrap with maps

Have you ever wished you could wrap presents with a handmade touch that wows the recipient? Using old maps and other materials, you can make unique, beautifully wrapped gifts that stand out from the pile.

Wrap with a map

If your car or backpack is full of maps left over from hikes, road trips and park visits, don't toss those papers into your recycle bin when there are packages to wrap! A map is just a big sheet of colorfully printed paper. Sounds a lot like gift wrap, doesn't it? See if there is an area that you want to highlight, then center the gift on the paper so your target area shows prominently. Wrap normally, cutting off unsightly rips or frayed edges as you go. The wrapped parcel itself becomes a conversation piece as the recipient tries to guess where the map is from! This is an especially good choice for wrapping gifts for the jetsetters and globetrotters in your life. Or use maps to wrap the souvenirs you bring back from vacation for your coworkers and friends.


One for the books

No maps? Try the same technique with the pages of an old book, or experiment with other types of recycled papers. Some people understandably are opposed to chopping up books for crafts. I used a children's book (large pages!) with an irreparable binding which would have gone in the recycling bin anyway. This wrapping technique works best for smaller boxes, but you can tape multiple pages together to cover larger packages. Don't worry about seams and creases showing; the imperfections in the paper are part of the charm. For an extra touch, finish your package with scraps of yarn and sprigs of greenery.

Recycled book gift wrap

Here comes Santa cloth

Reusable cloth bags are a gift unto themselves! Those handy with a sewing machine can whip up a batch of these simple drawstring pouches in short order. For the rest of us, check for pouches at craft fairs or online. Just close with a tug on the drawstring; add ribbon if you like for extra embellishment.

Cloth bag wrapping for gifts

Brown paper packages

For a rustic, old-fashioned look, wrap presents in reused parcel paper or paper shopping bags. Sprigs of winter greenery pair wonderfully with brown paper, so tuck an evergreen cutting or eucalyptus branch into the ribbon. Small pinecones or berries look nice, too!

Wrap with packages
Brown paper packages

As an added bonus, all these wrapping techniques are all either reusable, recyclable or compostable. Now as long as you have these materials around, you'll never run out of wrapping paper! While this idea works well for the holiday season, unconventional gift wrap can be used any time of year for birthdays and other festive occasions.