Reusable Gift Wrap Ideas

While very pretty, wrapping paper can be costly and is generally only used once. An alternative to the traditional gift paper is to wrap your gift in a reusable item such as a cloth tote, a baby blanket, or a flower pot; you get the idea. This is a guide about reusable gift wrap ideas.

Reusable Gift Wrap Ideas, Decorated flower pot as gift container.
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Tip: Furoshiki: Japanese Wrapping Cloth

I am really excited about this one and wanted to share this with my Thrifty Fun Family!

I have never heard of Furoshiki before and this is the absolute coolest! Not only is it a green way to wrap gifts (the cloth itself being an extra gift), but it can also be used as a purse/carrying case!

The tutorial says to use a piece of square fabric, but you can mold/fold even a rectangular piece in to a square. Hope you get as excited about this as me :-)

The first link is a video tutorial, the second link is a PDF file that gives several other gift item wrapping instructions and the third link is the history of Furoshiki

Source: A girlfriend sent me the video and I googled more about Furoshiki. Here's the video:

By Deeli from Richland, WA

Editor's Note: Two of the links did not work, so we have included a Wikipedia entry on Furoshiki

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Gift Wrap Ideas

Because of our consumer society, we may want to consider "downgrading" the packaging and wrapping of the things we purchase in the coming year. I recently heard of a great idea: instead of wasting what amounts to tons (collectively) of wrap and ribbon, why not use seasonal dish clothes or towels to wrap some items? You could use place mats that have been rolled up and tied as a beautiful gift alone or with some kind of neat kitchen gizmo tucked inside. Use YOUR imagination!

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Wrap Presents in Reusable Totes

By Christine 9 17

I've been collecting inexpensive cloth tote bags for gifts. I buy these tote bags at grocery stores and thrift shops. They cost $1 or $2. I put birthday and Christmas gifts inside the reusable tote, instead of a gift bag or wrapping paper. I'm saving money, recycling, and the recipient gets a handy cloth or recycled tote bag. I've picked up some really nifty tote bags over the summer.

By RuralAngel from Dover, DE

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Reuse Family Holiday Gift Box Year After Year

By Helen Baysinger 3 2

A great holiday tip that became a tradition. Make a family box, box with separate lid, wrapped separate, for easy opening, fill with movies, games, new ornament, books, anything your family will share. It's great for video games.

Tie a wire ribbon into a bow on top, and open together after all the gifting on Christmas. Reuse every year just pack some Christmas stuff inside and put away till next year.

By 123helen from Senoia, GA

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Use Reusable Gift Wrap

By Marty Dick 167 967

Here's a gift wrap idea for you. Years ago when my church gave a baby shower for a young woman in dire straits, I was helping an older lady pick up the gift wrap and get it ready to be tossed. I was middle aged at the time and she was probably the age I am now. After we filled up 2 toilet paper cartons, we both declared we would never spend another nickel on gift wrap.

On a few occasions, I have used the gift bags which I recycle. Mostly, if I am going to a wedding shower, I wrap it either in kitchen or bath towels and use a tuffy scrubber for a bow. Everyone needs safety pins so you can use those to secure it instead of scotch tape. For a baby shower, use a crib sheet or blanket and a rattle or small toy for the bow. You can use diaper pins instead of scotch tape to hold everything in place. All of it is usable and nothing will be thrown away.

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Think Reusable When Wrapping Gifts

By Donna 309 325

I love the holidays, but I really don't like wrapping gifts and bags can get expensive to buy.
So now I use cloth or Tyvek shopping bags (like the ones found in all stores' check outs) to wrap gifts.
Look for ones that have great designs (they are cheaper then buying paper gift bags and stronger too!)

I went to an online printer and purchased 5 of them, adding a photo of a painting I had painted, but you can even add a photo of a family member or pet for personalized bags. Great memories or laughs too!

You can use them again and again each year too.

Reusable gift bag.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Frugal and Green Ways to Wrap Last Minute Gifts!

    By pam munro 522 790

    You can use gift bags not directly related to the occasion with some ingenuity. I cut out candy images from an advertising mailing and put them on non-Christmas bags to make them more festive. This way I can use pink and violet bags, for example. Candy colors, no? Think of sugar plums!

    You could save old greeting cards and paste/tape them onto gift bags or store bags. (I touched up the slight wear on a metallic bag with a permanent magic marker - They are wonderful!)

    Collect colorful magazine images and newspaper ads, etc. and crumple instead of tissue. Coordinate with the colors of the gift bag(s).

    P.S. Did you know that you can IRON tissue paper on a very LOW iron to refresh it? And many ribbons can also be ironed, just make sure you don't try that on the lurex (metallic) ones, as they might melt!

    By pamphyila from L.A., CA

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Use Plastic Bin for Kids Gift Wrap

    By Marty Dick 167 967

    My daughter-in-law has been going through the granddaughter's toys and arranging them by type, like Barbie's, etc. She purchased some plastic bins of different sizes for this task. I suggested to her that she ask all who customarily give gifts to the kid, put them in a plastic bin of appropriate size instead of wrapping them. Dollar Stores have them and they don't cost any more than traditional gift wrap.

    By MartyD from Houston, TX

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Decorated Gift Container

    Give your gifts in this huge wow factor container.


    • Cleaned dried cylindrical container (example: coffee tin, oatmeal holder)
    • Artificial flowers, leaves, berries, birds, including one long strand which wraps around the container about 1 1/2 to 2 times
    • Contact paper or paint
    • Hot glue gun


    1. Cover the container with contact paper to eliminate any label. Alternatively, spray or craft paint the container and let dry.
    2. Starting at the top edge of the container (not inside), hot glue the long strand of leaves working in a downward spiral direction.
    3. Hot glue an arrangement of artificial leaves and flowers near the top of the container. Hide wires with single leaves.
    4. Working in a downward spiral direction, hot glue another arrangement of items on the container.
    5. Repeat until you reach the bottom of the container. There should be only 3 or 4 arrangements depending on the container size.
    6. Hot glue an arrangement on the lid, including a focal piece such as a bird.
    Voila! So impressive. NOTE: This craft can be designed with a theme in mind. Example: use red and pink items and hearts for Valentine's Day, or autumn leaves and dried grasses for Thanksgiving time.

    By Pretty cheap jewelry from California

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Gift Box Idea

    Instead of purchasing shirt boxes for the holidays, use cereal boxes instead. They are just the right size to slide a shirt, pants, robe or anything else like that into. You can decorate the box with wrapping paper so that the cereal logos aren't seen.

    By Sandi

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Archive: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    I save all of my cereal boxes or any box that is about that size. I take those small cans of paint and some paint that is gold or silver color. I then spray my box with the color of paint that I want to use. When it's dry, I spray mists of the silver or gold or both on the box. When the box is dry, I take some of the Christmas cord found at craft stores. I make a couple holes on the narrow side of the box or two holes on each side of the box. Then I tie a knot on one end of the cord slip it through the first hole then through the last one then tie a knot on that end. Now you have a gift bag/box. You can also use stickers, ribbons, or just about any thing on your box to decorate it.

    By Robin Mays from Bonham, TX


    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    This has got to be one of the best frugal gift giving ideas I've heard. Great idea! Also if the box is too large for your gift item you can cut it down. Thanks for a great gift bag idea! (11/10/2006)

    By jjager

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Dear Robin, I also think this is one of the best ideas I have heard. I have just gone through my pantry and found other boxes that could be used the same way. This is great as I hate throwing things out. Thanks for sharing. (11/10/2006)

    By downunderchick

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    This is a terrific idea- and one of the best tips I have heard about in a long time too!
    Just one thing - i will have to start eating cereal now just so I can have the boxes! :D
    Well done- fabulous idea, thank you.(11/11/2006)

    By Monique63

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Such a neat idea! Thanks for sharing! And something to do with kids! (11/11/2006)

    By mobo

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    I wish someone would post some pictures as I'm trying to understand exactly what this looks like. I don't mean to criticize either but doesn't this end up costing more in the cost of the paint than just buying a gift bag at the Dollar store? I understand wanting to re-use something and the idea of being creative but it doesn't sound frugal to me. Maybe I am missing something tho??? (11/11/2006)

    By Debbie52

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Hi Robin, I really like your idea. It will be great to use up all the half empty spray cans that we have in the garage. I think the silver and gold misted over the other colors will look very elegant. I also have acrylic paints that I may sponge paint over the spray painted boxes, or use an old toothbrush and "flick" the acrylic paint on. You really helped me to get my creative juices flowing, thanks! (11/11/2006)

    By Persnickety Paula

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    And, now, for being CAREFUL in opening those tough cereal boxes without damaging them! I like the idea, especially for my grandson's friends' parties, and especially since I can barely afford a little gift, much less the wrapping and ribbon. With a little more thinking I might be able to wrap it in kraft paper -bag, make some "finger prints", hand prints and secret code lettering out of tempera paint, even buying a "spy" gift that's so popular. Or, let my grandson glue on a painted picture especially for the friend's hobby. Good idea to "chew" on. LOL God bless you. : ) (11/11/2006)

    By Lynda

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Hello Robin, That is funny that you mentioned it here. I just discovered that same idea recently. At Christmas time I sometimes have a hard time finding bags or boxes to give all my gifts in. I just can't see spending a dollar to give a gift away in, thats the cost of a gift bag or box nowadays.
    I spray mine with low odor spray paint and sprinkle wth glitter and sometimes glue on sprigs if pine tree from the x-mas lots you can pick up for free and add pine cones to the center and voila! Thanks for sharing. (11/11/2006)

    By Crystel Tse

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    This is also a way to use up those small pieces of wrapping paper that seem to collect. Cover the box completely or cut out shapes and glue. And from the sewing/craft box....add bits of lace/ribbons/buttons...endless ways to dress up the box and have fun, too. (11/17/2006)

    By MissMakeDo

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    This is also a way to use up those small pieces of wrapping paper that seem to collect. Cover the box completely or cut out shapes and glue. And from the sewing/craft box....add bits of lace/ribbons/buttons... endless ways to dress up the box and have fun, too. (11/17/2006)

    By MissMakeDo

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    I too think this is a neat idea! You could also save the smaller boxes like the ones pop tarts came in or those breakfast bars. I also like the idea of using up left over wrapping paper or old wall paper scrapes.
    My Mom use to get us to cut out x-mas pixs out of magazines and then glue to the box as decoration!

    By Gepe

    Archive: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Instead of paying for boxes to wrap presents in, I save boxes from cereal, oatmeal, crackers, microwave popcorn; just about any kind of box and put my presents in them. They come in all shapes and sizes and it also helps to keeps my family from guessing their present, especially if it's clothing. My daughter will be surprised to find that the present shaped like an aluminum foil box is actually a shirt! LOL! We will never forget the one year when she was little, she got all excited because she took off the wrapping paper and thought she had gotten a case of Mountain Dew! Too cute! :-)

    By Tammy from Bristol, TN


    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    If you will carefully open the glued side of the box by running a butter knife under the overlapped piece you can flatten the box and turn it inside out. The inside is plain cardboard. Now it can be decorated! If you have a foam hair roller and dip the end in paint and sponge it on the box will look like it is covered in Lifesaver candies. Or use other sponge shapes, the kids will love doing this. Leave flat until you need the box for a gift and reglue the side you opened. Makes them easier to store. Have fun!
    T. Jo (01/28/2007)

    By T. Jo

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    I love to decoupage the outside of the box with a "theme" that I know the recipient enjoys. Sports for the guys, Hannah Montana for my grand daughter etc. I use pages from old magazines to do this, sometimes I will make paper flowers from the nice glossy sheets. My family and friends always look forward to my "funky" art work. I make the gift tag the same way. (07/06/2008)

    By Rhonda

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Here's another very frugal idea for a gift box- your empty boutique style (as well as rectangular size) Kleenex box! I have used these for years now and they make perfect gift boxes for a number of things! I wrap the exterior with very pretty Christmas, Birthday, Valentine's, etc., paper (that I have bought at after-Christmas sales, etc.), and it is beautiful!

    Stop throwing out your empty tissue boxes and recycle them. TRY IT!

    P.S.: The tissue boxes also come in a variety of designs; flowers, Disney characters, world monuments, etc., and so I sometimes do not even wrap the outside because they are too cool to cover up! (08/31/2008)

    By Robb

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    Hi Tammy, your ideas for cereal boxes are so great and all the ideas from everyone really help. I save boxes too and do a lot of things with them. One of my favorites is to take wide ribbon and "weave" a cover for the box out of two different colors or just one color. You add a handle out of covered coat hanger and you have a beautiful basket or gift box. I use covered pizza boxes for storing all kinds of things and you can stack them. Also you can cover the boxes with left over wallpaper, contact paper, or put a little bit of cotton batting, glued to the outside and cover with light weight material. I use the cereal boxes for storing magazines. Stand them on one end, cut the top off and down a little bit on one side, cover with whatever you want, and you have a keeper. A few of them standing side by side looks really nice. I enjoy reading all the ideas everyone has come up with.(03/26/2009)

    By Virginia

    RE: Cereal Boxes As Gift Boxes Or Gift Bags

    I flatten the cereal boxes and especially the Ritz cracker boxes, trim off the flaps, and use to line my drawers and shelves. They lay flat, and are so colorful! (03/26/2009)

    By Karenhope

    Archive: Wrap Presents in Reusable Grocery Bags

    For Christmas gift wrapping this year, I purchased some of the recycle bags that stores are selling now, canvas and usually green, the cost is usually a dollar. Use this bag to put your gifts in, to encourage recycling. A paper gift bag would cost about the same. This bag will last a lot longer and put festive bows on it.

    By Hope from Wilmington NC


    RE: Wrap Presents In Reusable Grocery Bags

    I did this too! There are some nice bags recyclable bags out there for $1, so great for gift giving :) (12/19/2008)

    By freya1970

    RE: Wrap Presents in Reusable Grocery Bags

    I did that too and I would appreciate gifts "wrapped"in these bags. No harm to the environment. Great idea. (12/29/2008)

    By mulberry204

    Archive: Wrap Presents in Reusable Grocery Bags

    Instead of using wrapping paper or paper gift bags I use reusable grocery tote bags. I watch for bags which do not have printed advertisements on them. I do not pay more than $1.00 a bag. To match the occasion I can decorate as elaborate or uncomplicated as I want.

    Instead of using tissue paper I watch for cloth items to fill around the gift such as kitchen towels for wedding shower, cloth baby items, fancy crochet for wedding - think "out of the box".

    I'm always looking for decorating ideas and bags at a bargain. I found 10 bags for $10.00 in different colors, made with recycled materials, and free shipping on a online shopping site. There was even white for wedding showers. Just think how many trees you can save and your wrapping can be used to eliminate using plastic and paper grocery bags.

    Source: Have not read this anywhere. Have been looking for ideas to avoid Christmas wrap with permanent gift bags.

    By Karen from Marysville, Ohio

    Archive: Wrap Presents in Reusable Grocery Bags

    As I am not a gift wrapper, I usually buy my Christmas gift bags from the Dollar Store, and of course they are $1.00 each.

    This year our local grocery store started selling re-usable grocery bags with seasonal motifs on them. They are 99 cents. So I decided that I would purchase the re-usable bags for my gift giving this year.

    Environmentally conscious, these bags, regardless of motifs, are of year round use, still provide me (a horrendous gift wrapper) with my precious gift bags, and are ideal for those gift recipients to take home their gifts in.

    These "Seasonal" re-usable grocery bags are available at IGA, Sobeys, Foodland, Walmart, Zellers and, I suspect, a multitude of other large stores.

    By hedera from Ontario, Canada


    RE: Wrap Presents in Reusable Grocery Bags

    I think this is a good idea. Thanks. (12/22/2009)

    By mulberry204

    RE: Wrap Presents in Reusable Grocery Bags

    Excellent and environmentally friendly! My sister works at a Giant Eagle in Akron, so last time she was able to visit (for my younger daughter's wedding last August,) she brought three reusable bags from her store as a gift for hubby and me.

    He occasionally forgets the reusable bags, of course, so we simply recycle the plastic and paper bags as trash bags, etc, as usual. (12/25/2009)

    By JustPlainJo

    Archive: Wrap Presents in Reusable Totes

    Besides birthdays and Christmas, there are lots of occasions for gift giving. (Easter, Valentines, St. Patty's, Anniversary, Baby Shower, Wedding, Halloween, 4th July, New Years, Sweetest day, Grandparents day, Thanksgiving, etc.). Instead of investing in paper gift bags, that are usually used one time, I purchase re-usable totes from various stores! These are generally $1.00 and can be re-used over and over and is a gift in itself to the recipient as well as Mother Earth!

    Almost all major chain stores offer the Totes, therefore you can have various colors of totes! I use one of these totes in my car to organize necessities.

    By Missy MM from Ohio


    RE: Wrap Presents in Reusable Totes

    For baby showers, I have used receiving blankets or flat crib sheets and decorative ribbon to wrap other small baby items in. For other gifts, I have photo boxes or pretty baskets to hold gifts. (03/07/2010)

    By truovrld

    Archive: Food Packaging Boxes as Gift Wrapping

    Why buy packaging boxes for money? Instead of throwing away packaging boxes (such as cereal boxes, cake boxes or any box that is clean on inside), I save them for use in gift wrapping any items that need boxes. I normally decoupage on top to make it special or wrap in newspaper and ribbon. But as an idea, why not let the children collage on top then use the box for great personalized packaging for $0.

    By Caeridwen from Kent OH


    RE: Food Packaging Boxes as Gift Wrapping

    We use them also but we take them apart at the seams and turn inside out for the plain brown side. You can then refold them and glue them as they were using the folds already there. You can still decorate as you want. Thanks for sharing. (11/05/2009)

    By latrtatr

    RE: Food Packaging Boxes as Gift Wrapping

    I've been doing this for years. I use jello boxes for tiny items, of course cereal boxes. Also bath soap boxes. I also use the laundry detergent boxes which are very sturdy and have a handle. I just wrap them in wrapping paper and it's an instant gift bag and reusable for storage. (11/05/2009)

    By Honey's mom

    RE: Food Packaging Boxes as Gift Wrapping

    I thought every body did this! Look how many people you've enlightened! It's a great green way to go, too. (11/03/2010)

    By tahloolabelle

    RE: Food Packaging Boxes as Gift Wrapping

    I cut up cereal boxes and use them to drain grease when frying food. (11/03/2010)

    By TXBetty

    RE: Food Packaging Boxes as Gift Wrapping

    I am so in love with this idea! Thanks for posting, and I am going to personalize them for each child! I love this so much you and inspired me on to new heights!


    By Robyn Fed

    Holidays and Parties Gifts Gift WrappingNovember 15, 2011
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