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Alternative Christmas Wrapping


Here at The Selkie Collective we've decided to come up with some alternative Christmas wrapping ideas, to help you avoid the plastic bows, paper and tags but without missing out on any of the fun. We promise!

Well it's that time of year again we're starting to get our Christmas presents organised, we've been searching out local, crafted and sustainable gifts for friends, family and the shop. It's been a real pleasure to think sustainably this year, however, we have realised how difficult it is!

One area that we were shocked to discover how much waste is made each year is Christmas wrapping and cards. It is estimated that we use around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, a lot of that just ends up in our bins. Using all that paper means using a lot of sticky tape, estimates put this at around 40 million rolls of tape! That's a lot of plastic, and it can't be recycled. Then there are the cards people send to their friends and loved ones, it's averaged that each person will send approximately 17 cards each. Again most of these will end up in the bin, it's thought that up to 1 billion cards will end up in landfill and it takes 33 million trees to make that amount of cards. These numbers feel very overwhleming, so we thought we would come up with a few ideas to use some alternatives.



Here are a few alternative wrapping ideas:

  • Use old clothing to wrap your presents. I know it sounds a bit strange at first, but once you find a fabric you like the look of and the item really isn't any use to anyone else, then get the scissors out and cut yourself a square. You can use the traditional Japanese technique of tying the corners or use twine to hold it in place.

  • If the presents are odd shapes we found using a fabric bag, or reusable shopping bag worked really well. If you have sewing machine skills then you could make your own or you could support a local business and pop into Rag Tag or Blythswood charity shop in Broadford, and see what they have.

  • Another option could be to upcycle an old cardboard box. Last year we upcycled some of our cornflake boxes to put presents in. It's a great activity if you have children that could use PVA glue to stick pictures they've drawn to the outside of the box.

  • Good old classic brown paper looks great by itself and instead of using plastic tape, you could use twine to hold the wrapping in place (or you could always pop into our Selkie Store to get some plastic free tape!). You can also decorate the brown paper with your own designs. If you have children this is another great activity to do with them in the run up to christmas.

  • Newspaper is a good idea and perfect way to get another use out of the paper. We love using our local West Highland Free Press, as there are usually pages that we can find uplifting stories or pictures of the local area. If we're wrapping in newspaper a good tip is to find some contrasting fabric colour, that you can cut a strip and use like you would a ribbon.

  • As parents we have piles of wonderful drawings from our little ones (as long as your little one is happy for you to use their drawing) it's a really lovely and personal way to wrap a present.

  • Cards can be one of the most precious things to give someone that you love. This year we'll only be sending cards to those that we can't be with in person. We've also bought blank recycled paper cards to decorate ourselves. Another idea is to send an E-card, there are so many wonderful ones to find online and can feel just as personal.


Top Tip:

Our tip for gift tags is to use last years cards. Our mum's have been doing this for years! We're now finally catching on, that saving the wrapping paper and cards is a perfect way to reuse for the following year. Simply cut out shapes from the cards then punch a hole at the top using a hole punch and thread some old string or garden twine and you have yourself a homemade tag!


A lot of people aren't aware that wrapping paper, bows, tags and ribbons are not recyclable or that they have a lot of plastic within them. Remember that wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the scrunch test. If the paper scrunched down into a ball and stays there then it can be recycled, if it pops back out and starts to unravel then it must go into general waste. If recycling your paper also remember that you have to take off any tape, decorations, ribbons and tags. If your paper is shiny, has glitter or looks like foil then it can't be recycled and has to go into general waste.


Another top tip is to save the wrapping, bows, and ribbons that you recieve and reuse as much as you can next year. We have had years of use from ribbons and bows collected over the years, they have been used for presents throughout the year, or for making new decorations for the tree.


If you have any other ideas or tips then we would love to hear them in the comments below!


Happy wrapping


xx