20 FREE and FESTIVE Ways to Wrap Christmas Gifts

How much money do you spend to wrap Christmas gifts every year?

It’s fun to see the beautiful packages under the tree, but for the $30-50 you spend on gift wrap, fancy ribbon, and gift tags, you could buy another gift or fund your holiday feast.

Following are some of the ways we gift wrap for free, taken from our book (also free!), Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas and a Debt-Free New Year.

Wrap It Up

  • Decorate paper grocery bags. If you use paper grocery bags, you’ve got a free stash of trendy-looking “craft paper” gift wrap. Cut open the bags and turn them wrong side out for plain brown packages. You can leave these simple or let the kids stamp designs on them for added flair.
  • Use newspaper. If you still get newspapers, hang on to them. Black and white newsprint makes for an elegant, hipster package and the colorful comics section is fun for kids’ gifts.
  • Hit the thrift store for containers. Pick up baskets or other decorative containers at your local thrift store and put gifts in them. That way, the container itself is part of the gift and can be reused by the recipient for organization and storage.
  • Use non-gift wrap paper that you have on hand. For small gifts, we have been slowing going through our old stash of scrapbooking paper. You may have other pretty bits and pieces, like tissue paper that wrapped a breakable item from a store, an insert in a photo frame, or other decorative papers. You can even use the pages of old books that are falling apart to wrap small items. (You can often find books like that for free.)
  • Makeover ugly paper. Do you have some gift wrap that you’ll probably never use because, well, it’s hideous?  Turn it wrong side out and use the white side. As with the paper bags above, the kiddos can decorate this, or you can go with a simple, white package. You might also have gift wrap put aside from other occasions that could be turned wrong side out.
  • Reuse gift bags. We save gift bags from year to year and reuse them. If the handles break off, repair the torn paper with a piece of Scotch tape and thread through new ribbon or twine.
  • Make fabric bags. My children’s grandma has been using the same lovely, hand-sewn fabric gift bags for years. The family brings the bags back each year filled with new gifts.
  • Keep attractive containers. Sometimes, food items come in containers that can be reused for gift giving. For example, we kept a cute little balsa container from a wheel of Brie, covered the label with pretty paper, and used it as a container for a small gift. Other ideas are fruit crates, jewelry boxes, or muslin/chiffon bags.
  • Cover unattractive containers. One year, I stopped my neighbor before she threw out six empty cans of Pringles. I washed the insides carefully, covered them with pretty paper, and used these to hold cookies for gift giving.
  • Upcycle old sweaters into gift bags. If you have any old sweaters that have seen better days, you can turn them into simple, cozy-looking gift bags. Cut them into rectangles of the desired size, then fold them over. Run a seam up each side, put on the handle of your choice, and pop in a gift.

Embellishments and Extras

  • Use garden twine. Instead of pricey ribbon from the store, grab a ball of garden twine to tie up packages. Twine can also be used to fasten on other embellishments and gives a rustic elegance to grocery bag packages.
  • Add items from nature. Tie on a few sprigs of pine, some little twigs, or a pretty leaf for a lovely, natural look.
  • Reuse bows from previous years. Duh. Of course, you already do that. If the bow is crushed beyond redemption, carefully remove the staple, undo the bow, and slide scissors down the ribbon to make pretty curls.
  • Make bows from paper. Find a simple bow-making tutorial online. You can cut strips from flyers, tape them end to end, and fold them into elaborate and colorful bows to give a plain package some pop. (Try this YouTube tutorial or this DIY.)
  • Use yarn to make pom poms. If you have odds and ends of yarn, you can use this to add a pop of color by turning it into pom poms or tassels. (Tutorial for making pom poms using a fork and tutorial for tassels.
  • Use ornaments for gifts within the immediate family. Tie on an unused ornament to jazz up a gift for a family member. (You may not want to use this for gifts that will be going elsewhere unless you want to part with your ornament.)
  • Rip strips off an old clothing item. For a homespun look, take an old shirt and rip it into strips. (Start them with scissors.) Ripping instead of cutting will give you a distressed, frayed edge. Make these strips into bows or ribbon for decorating gifts.
  • Single earrings add sparkle. If you have any sad, single earrings, tie them onto a gift for some vintage pizzazz.
  • Stamp on a gift tag. Using a stamp in a simple shape, make a gift tag right on a plain paper package. Use a pretty metallic paint pen to put the recipient’s name on the gift.
  • Button it up. If you have a jar of buttons kicking around, you can use these to embellish a package or gift tag. Either glue them on or thread them throw the string tying up your gift.

Be sure to check out our book (get it here for free) for more free, frugal, and festive holiday ideas!

What about you?

How do you wrap presents inexpensively, or even better, for free? Share your ideas in the comments!

20 FREE and FESTIVE Ways to Wrap Christmas Gifts

6 thoughts on “20 FREE and FESTIVE Ways to Wrap Christmas Gifts”

  1. I hunt the op shops for baskets and occasional see some bags . My go to is the kids pictures & once a year I buy a large roll of brown paper , the kids decorate for birthdays & Christmas. I do buy one roll of Christmas paper because you know Santa . Love your other ideas , thanks for sharing !!

  2. I save the little bits of leftover paper to wrap the ornaments I make every year. This year I went through all my spools of ribbon to use for the outside. The packages ended up all different. Looks fun and special for each person.

  3. One year I humbled myself and flat out asked, and a nice guy at a Christmas tree place gave me broken branches of pine. They smelled so good. We covered a bucket with tinfoil and propped the branches inside with a little water, and decorated with what we had leftover from past years. It was wonderous, and didn’t cost me anything but pride and a roll of tinfoil.

    Also, this year one of my college instructors gifted me a surprise that will last me all my life: She challenged me that learning to draw is like any other task, and told me if I could learn to write, I could learn to draw. I ended up drawing a comic for that class, and now have a skill that only costs me pencil, paper and an eraser, and has given me many very happy hours. It’s worth seeing if you could download off the internet instructors for drawing a child’s favorite superhero or animal, and let them give it a try. I’m so excited to have a genuinely engaging and fun hobby which is also frugal, and the materials can be found almost anywhere there’s a store. The old fashioned slate and chalk is good too, if you don’t want to use up all that paper, or Paint 3D is good for very basic drawings (I used it to clean up and color my class comic).

    I found out that if you can teach anyone a low cost hobby like drawing or writing or singing, they can continue on with it no matter what their circumstances and it becomes a sort of bridge to better times.

    God bless all, and a very Merry Christmas!

  4. Love these ideas! I usually get my ribbons and paper from the dollar store. In years past I’ve used paper bags and butcher paper and other stuff. Another fun embellishment is cute little origami figures – you can cut a square out of printer paper and do a simple bird or star. You can also make stamps out of carved potato halves and poster paint. You can do leaf and fern rubbings too – crayon on brown paper looks cool. Or white gel pen on brown paper. So many ideas.

  5. Great ideas! Also, I use road maps as nice heavy wrapping paper and deflated helium balloons for gift bags tied with ribbon.

  6. Also, you can get free wallpaper books to wrap small gifts.

    Another fun idea is buying cashmere sweaters from the thrift stores and making cashmere sleeping socks from them. Cut the arms by the shoulder in a half circle and sew them where your toes will be. The bottom part of the sleeve of the sweater is already ribbed and finished. You can then cut panels in the front and back of the sweater in the same manner. You will end up with 2-3 pairs of amazing socks! This also works for other soft sweaters. Merry Christmas!

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