The Paper-Free Gift Wrapping Technique You Need to Try This Year

published Dec 4, 2017
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(Image credit: Humphrey & Grace)

I did not grow up in a house that delicately opened gifts on Christmas morning. My mother did not collect all the intact gift wrap, fold it carefully and stash it away for another use. We were savages that ripped open presents with abandon. The more shreds I could get out of each box, the longer the unwrapping lasted, which made me a happier child. (My mother did, however, always save gift boxes—the kind you put shirts and pajama sets in—as well as gift bags because she was no fool.) But re-used or recycled wrapping paper? I’m a child of the ’80s/’90s, come on now, those were not things thought of back then unless you were a certified hippy (thankfully, things have changed).

According to Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25% more household trash between Thanksgiving and New Years, which equates to about 25 million tons of extra garbage. Now, that’s not all wrapping paper of course, but the pretty stuff (paper, ribbons, boxes and bows) surely represents a big chunk of it.

Which is why I’m absolutely pumped to see that the totally gorgeous (and eco-friendly) Japanese Furoshiki wrapping technique—in which you use traditional Furoshiki cloths (or any thin fabric for that matter) to wrap boxes and gifts—has seen a bit of an uptick in popularity lately. In fact, according to a recent report by Pinterest, interest in the paper-free approach has risen 129% this season.

Not only is it a greener tactic in general, the cloths can be reused by the giftee in numerous ways (as a scarf, repurposed into a pillow and beyond!), counting as an additional gift.

Now, the cost of these traditional cloths are, as you would imagine, considerably higher than your standard roll of gift wrap at your local big box store (most pieces of Furoshiki run around $10), but the technique itself can be used with any thin fabric you may have lying around your craft corner.

To get a sense of what this trending wrapping approach looks like (and find how-to tutorials), I dug up some gorgeous examples from bloggers and creatives around the web. Take a look (and hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do).

(Image credit: Minted)

Spotted on Minted, the palette on these may be more springtime than Christmas-time, but you can change up the fabric however you’d like. Follow the link for a step-by-step of how to pull this off.

(Image credit: Frock Files)

From the looks of this beautifully wrapped gift from Frock Files, you’d never know there was a plastic Gladware container (for cookies!) inside. Furoshiki can elevate even the simplest of gifts.

(Image credit: Shauna Faust via Handmade Weddings)

Featured in the book “Handmade Weddings” (styled by Shauna Faust), it’s easy to see how the wrapping technique can be applied to just about any situation in which gifts are being given (with a unique spin).

(Image credit: Humphrey & Grace)

While wrapping paper needs to be crisp and precise, the Furoshiki technique looks just as beautiful with some imperfections (Humphrey & Grace‘s interpretation is loose and free…and gorgeous). No need to worry about sagging corners or accidentally placed tape ripping up the paper’s design.

Lastly, found on The House That Lars Built, I just love how you can slip foliage (think a sprig from your tree or a bit of holly), cards or even smaller stocking stuffer-type gifts under the knot of the cloth to up your presentation.

Where to buy Furoshiki cloths? Again, feel free to use whatever fabric you may already have, but if you want the traditional Japanese textile, they’re pretty easy to find online. Here are a few sources to check out: