15 Alternatives to Ordinary Wrapping Paper

Move over traditional wrapping paper—there are plenty of creative ways to wrap gifts that go beyond the store-bought roll of shiny paper. Whether you're looking to cut down on waste or make the wrapping part of the gift itself, here are 15 alternatives to ordinary wrapping paper.

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Small items and home-baked treats can be wrapped in paper doilies and tied up with ribbon or twine. Sweet and simple. Are you a minimalist? If so, here are 13 holiday decorating ideas you’ll appreciate.

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Put yesterday’s newspaper to work and use it as wrapping paper. Use a black and white page and add a big red bow or wrap your gift in the comics section to spread a little cheer.

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Jars and Cans

Depending on the size of the gift, consider using jars and cans as an alternative to wrapping paper. Just remove labels and decorate with ribbon. Jars and cans work great to hold edible gifts and can be finished off with a festive cookie cutter. This is the ultimate gift guide for DIYers.

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Paper Bags

If you have extra paper bags, you can use them as wrapping paper. Just cut so they can be wrapped around the package or place the gift inside and tie it up with a little ribbon. Head to the dollar store for these 13 must-have holiday items.

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It doesn’t matter if it’s shiny, flowery or a geometric pattern—wallpaper makes for unique wrapping paper. Use some scraps from your last wallpaper project to wrap that perfect gift. Removing wallpaper is an ugly job but these tips make it easier.

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A Blanket or Pillowcase

Make the gift wrap part of the gift. Use a blanket or a pillowcase in a fun design as gift wrap and use ribbon or twine to tie it all together.

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Burlap works well as a gift wrap alternative, as it can cover large gifts or smaller packages. Tie on a big bow to complete the rustic look.

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Try using a pretty or festive scarf as gift wrap. Not only will it cover the present, it becomes part of the gift in itself. A scarf looks great wrapped around a live plant pot, too! Here are 14 DIY gifts you can make in a weekend.

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Don’t toss that old map book quite yet! Use maps as a gift wrap alternative. You can personalize the gift even more by using maps of the recipient’s favorite places.

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If you have a favorite photo that will be special to the recipient, try using it as gift wrap. There are plenty of services both online and at local photo centers that can print out larger versions of photos onto paper, thus turning it into a personalized gift wrapping alternative.

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White Stamped Paper

Plain white paper can make a big statement as gift wrap. Just wrap the gift and then use a fun stamp to decorate and finish off the gift. Even better, have your favorite child do the stamping for you!

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Basket or Crate

A basket or crate makes for a great alternative to wrapping paper. Pick up some inexpensive baskets or crates and keep them on hand for gift giving. This is another double gift as the basket or crate can serve as storage for the gift(s) inside.

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Cereal Box

Empty cereal boxes make great (free!) gift boxes. Cut the box down one side, turn it inside out and you have a blank canvas to decorate. Tie on a ribbon or place a bow on top and you’re done.

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Butcher’s Paper

Since the paper your butcher uses can be recycled (unlike most wrapping paper), buy a roll and use it to wrap your gifts. A package wrapped with brown paper and a simple bow or message written on the top makes a big statement. Spread some holiday cheer with these gift wrapping ideas.

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Beach Towel

Surprise the gift recipient and use a beach towel as an alternative to wrapping paper. Wrap up additional beachy items or maybe something a little fragile since the towel will protect whatever is inside. Check out this beautiful towel storage shelf accented with boat cleats.

If you have to toss out any unneeded wrapping paper, it’s important to know what type of wrapping paper is recyclable.

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Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.