Wrapping Christmas Gifts for Free (almost)

I am sure many of you are starting to tackle the Christmas gift wrapping. This year I wanted to do something a bit different. A few months ago I wrote a post about finding frugal ways to wrap Christmas gifts and received many great suggestions from my readers. I decided that this year I didn’t want to spend any money on gift wrap. The paper is almost always thrown away and I would rather spend that money on more gifts for the ones I love. We are also trying very hard to stay within our budget this Christmas season. My husband and I both have a tendency to go overboard with gifts, but not this year!

I decided since I have an abundance of paper grocery bags I would use them to wrap gifts. I spent about $8 at Michaels on ribbon, because my goal here is to think green not look cheap. So far I have been able to wrap almost all the gifts using paper bags. I realized you do have to use a little more tape since the bags are thicker than most wrapping paper. But this is a positive because thicker bags mean less chance of paper being torn open during shipping.

I would love to show you a before picture, but…. my family does claim to read this blog now and again, so I am only able to show you the after pictures.

I thought they turned out pretty nice, and kind of old fashioned looking. I still have tons of ribbon left, so I think it will make it through all the gifts this year.

Here are a few other gift wrap ideas I received from my readers.

  • From Kate and Nancy: As far as gift wrap, you can use the Sunday comics (they are colorful) – I did this in college, with masking tape and binder twine – for regular gifts. For Christmas, you can reuse old wrapping paper or have your kids decorate (paint, rubber stamp, crayon) butcher paper. I have a gift bow stash that would make you laugh – I save any ribbon that looks remotely reusable. Why not – after all, I mail most gifts and the bows get squashed anyway!
  • From Sherry: As far as presents go, I reuse gift bags and also I have gotten an end roll from a newspaper which you can decorate with stamps, paint, stickers etc, plus it is recyclable. Which reminds me that I need another roll. Mine lasted about 3 years.
  • From Kristen: Here is another idea for making wrapping paper. You can purchase a large roll of brown Kraft paper for very cheap at the store and have the kids decorate them with markers or crayons. Or for the super frugal, grab some paper bags from the grocery store, cut them into a sheet, and decorate those and use for wrapping paper.
  • From Cammie: Wrap your Christmas gifts in brown grocery bags. Cut them open along the fold, stamp or decorate them with a Christmas motif and use them to wrap your gifts. This is an old trick from my school teacher days…you know, we had to wrap those classroom-made hand print wreaths in something.
  • From Amy: Re: gifts at Christmas, I wrap in newspaper with either green or red ribbon. It’s actually both classy and festive, and the newspaper can be recycled.
  • From Jenny: I agree with using store bags. Closer to Christmas when you do your shopping, often the bags are Christmasy or at least festive. If it’s a “cool” store, you can just add a ribbon and some tissue paper. Sometimes you can cover the store name with stickers, and bigger bags can be cut up to wrap smaller gifts. If you have access to anyone who works in an engineering firm you may be able to get large rolls of white paper…My husband brings them home when they change the size they use…or old plans.
  • From Mimi: I buy wrapping paper on sale, very seldom use bows, reuse gift bags, buy scotch tape buy the box (usually on sale). I have used the society page from the newspaper for wedding gifts, wrapped baby gifts in diapers or receiving blankets, crib sheets, etc.
  • From Kristi: I love the idea of sewing gift bags! I was going to go with the Japanese form of gift wrapping called Furoshiki.
  • From Julie: I heard the greatest tip for Christmas wrapping this year. Use reusable shopping bags! Buy a bunch at Meijer or Target or wherever you shop…heck, get some custom ones… And put your gifts in those! It’s like getting another gift because you can reuse it!
  • From Marcia: My favourite Christmas wrap is brown paper (Kraft wrap) and a bright ribbon in red or green. Cheap and looks beautiful. Here in South Africa, brown paper is about R1,99 a roll, where Christmas wrap is R7,99 a roll – so HUGELY cost-effective

See more frugal gift wrap ideas here.

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  1. Great tips – I love the brown bag wrappings.

  2. I was telling my kids a couple days ago that we are wrapping presents with paper bags this year.
    I hate how much we have to spend on wrapping paper (also I’ve been trying to go green). I can save that money for stocking stuffers. The kids are going to decorate some or all of the paper depending on if they get tired of it.

  3. I think they look great! The beautiful ribbons make them look awesome!

  4. I think those look so much nicer and cleaner than gifts wrapped with gift wrap. There’s something so classic about “brown paper packages tied up with strings.”

  5. I really like the way that looks! Very pretty & I agree that it looks old fashion. Great tackle!

  6. Those are GREAT suggestions!!

  7. Somebody's Mimi says:

    I absolutely LOVE your gift wrapping! You are right it is festive and old fashioned… they look beautiful! I get ribbon at garage sales suring the year and believe me when I say it is cheap!

  8. I gotta say … I LOVE IT! I think it is very old fashioned and that hint of color from the ribbons are PERFECT!

  9. I am using bags this year too. But instead of ribbon I am using bale twine.

  10. They really look great! Ribbon and bows is what makes any package look pretty and that’s true of yours!

  11. What a great tackle! I love your wrapping! 🙂

  12. Those look great!

  13. I think they all look gorgeous and a great way to reuse grocery bags.

    Have a great day!

  14. Your wrapping looks great! Thanks for the link, too!

  15. Hi,
    Here is my tip. If you have any child that loves to draw, you could have your own designer paper! My daughter is very creative and comes up with the most amazing ideas. For smaller gifts, typing paper works well, for larger gifts there is either the inside of grocery bags or you can tape the smaller sections paper together. I practically do not wrap any gifts unless I want to, because my imaginative daughter delights in this activity.

  16. My favorite year was when my girls were small. I got some red and green finger paint and put it in pie tins. I laid the brown paper out on some easily washable floor. I had the girls take off their shoes and then I helped them “walk” across the paper with red and green paint on their feet. Towels nearby for easy clean-up. It was really fast, really classy looking, and really sweet to see those tiny feet. I kept one footprint from each girl in my keepsake box.

  17. Looks great! I should invest in brown wrapping paper and use it all year round with fun ribbons. I know some gift receivers who would reuse that ribbon in crafting. 😀 This year I just bought 4 big rolls of wrapping paper from the dollar store, won’t feel so bad that it’s tossed (recycled) when it was so cheap. Your idea is much cuter though!

  18. I like to make gift bags from old tshirts. I buy cool ones at thrift stores. Cut it off just below the armpits and sew up that edge…it will now be the bottom of your bag. This works better for tshirts with no design on the front, since the design would now be upside-down. You can put a drawstring through the hem, to close up what is now the top edge. Or just gather it together with your hands and wrap the ribbon or string around it to close it.
    Or…cut off the sleeves and cut off the neckband. The shoulders are now handles. Sew up the bottom edge. This is a nicer way to use bags wih a picture or design on the front, that you want to have upright.


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