‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring…Except me trying to wrap all those last-minute gifts!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . . But my wrapping paper closet was bare!

Suddenly stuck without wrapping paper at the last minute? Don't fret. It might be a reverse blessing, both  financially and for the planet. The EPA estimates that Americans generate 25% more household waste during the holiday season and a good portion of that being on gift wrap.

Instead of rushing to the store to buy more wrapping paper, make the holidays a little greener and save some money by using some gift wrapping alternatives. Even better news: Many of these items are likely already in the house and can be repurposed instead of being thrown away!

Road maps

One of the hottest trends in gift wrapping is reusing old road maps in place of traditional wrapping paper. It’s a good choice for a man’s gift, heavy enough to handle tough wrapping jobs and a smart way to repurpose a map that is outdated and taking up space in a closet or drawer.

Reusable grocery bags

This can become a gift wrapped in a gift because the reusable shopping bag that contains the main gift can be reused by the recipient for their own shopping trips. Customize based on recipient’s interests (Petco bag for animal lover, Whole Foods bag for health nut, etc.). Add tissue paper, and it’s good to go! Out of tissue paper? Grab the roll of wax paper from the kitchen. Wax paper is a perfect substitute for tissue paper, as explained in this former KCL post.

Customized newspaper wrapping

Everyone has heard about using newspaper in place of traditional wrapping paper. But don’t just grab any section of newspaper. Customize it to match the recipient’s interests! Use the crossword section for the loved one who always does the Sunday crossword. The Sunday comics are fun for kids’ gifts. The sports fan gets the sports pages. That person who always has words of wisdom, encouragement and advice? Wrap their gift with the advice columns!

Sheet music

Maybe the song has been memorized. Maybe the pages are old and falling out of the music book. Maybe the piano hasn’t been played in a decade. Old sheet music is a charming way to personalize a gift and is another way to repurpose something no longer in use.

Brown paper bags

Simply turn these bags inside out, cut along the seam, and use as upcycled wrapping. Adorn with a pretty ornament, pine cone, or sprig of greenery to keep it festive.

Baskets, bins and pots

Closet shelves are filled with them: Old wicker baskets, plastic storage bins and paper storage boxes. Shelves in garages and storage sheds are often filled with old ceramic flower pots and glass canning glass jars. Empty those shelves and use those castoffs as containers for gifts that are oddly-shaped and hard to wrap (like cosmetics and accessories). Line the jars with tissue paper to make the gifts harder to see inside!

Scarves, dish towels and other linens

If a gift includes a scarf, use it to wrap the other gift. Giving table linens, bath towels or kitchen towels? Utilize those large pieces of fabric to wrap other gifts if the recipient will be getting other items, too. Or raid the closets and drawers for linens that have never been used (maybe they don’t match current decor or just aren’t practical) and repurpose them as additional wrapping material.

Top it

Use odds and ends from around the house to top off a gift:

Silk flowers can be used as gift tags: Take the petals of a large silk flower (or leaves that are large enough) and use a Sharpie to write the name of the recipient and the gift giver (“To Aunt Jenny, With Love from Julie”).

Silk ribbon scraps and yarn: Raid the sewing kit and use leftover ribbon and yarn to wrap and add a sweet bow. Some gifts look good without wrapping (like a stack of 3 or 4 children's books to give as a teacher's gift or a candle in an attractive glass container to present to a hostess), and a beautiful ribbon is just the right touch to make it festive.

 This is a guest post by Audrey from Texas
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Green Christmas: Last-Minute Gift Wrap Alternatives