Christmas is around the corner, and folks are busily wrapping gifts. Before you spend money on gift wrap, I thought I would share some ideas for creative ways of wrapping.

Wrapping paper and gift bags are pretty wasteful ideas. Sure, they are pretty, but cutting all those trees down, the tons of petroleum products in the inks, processing, and transportation, just so our packages will look pretty under the tree. I wonder if we can rethink this.

For alternatives, let’s start with going through your closets, drawers and anywhere else you might have some fabrics. If that old shirt, sweater, jacket, or tablecloth has seen its last days put it in the pile. If it’s red, green, white or Christmas fabric, add it to the pile and you get bonus points.

The Examiner's editor, Jeff Fox, shared this one with me. A few years ago, his family gathered up all of their unused Christmas fabric cut them up and made fabric bags out of them. His wife used her sewing machine and sewed them into bags of all sizes, adding a drawstring at the top. Jeff said, “They were so easy that I think I could sew them by hand, if I didn’t have a sewing machine. They’ve even been passed around the family who like to borrow them for special items.” You could even make bundles of these cloth bags, in different sizes, and give them as gifts. They are a cheap, very Green, and very reusable gift.

You would not have to sew the fabrics, I have seen packages wrapped in linens, boiled yarns, and all kinds of fabric wrappings. You can tie them with an old necktie, ribbons, even twine.

One of my favorite things to do with gifts is to wrap them in paper grocery bags and tie them with twine, or jute, with a sprig of pine. I must say, they look incredible and very woodsy. You could even take leaves, pine cones, turkey feathers, or other natural items and press them into an ink pad, or paint them and press them onto the paper making your own creations. Have your kids add their special flair to giftwraps for Grandma or Grandpa, starting them on their own Green pathway.

This year, I invested in some boiled wool bags I found at a discount store. They’re all shapes and sizes and have coordinating colors, some with zippers, others drawstrings. They look great under the tree and will last for decades!

Okay, now for those gift cards. Keep those Christmas cards that friends and family send you. Get out your decorative scissors and cut around the designs on the cards. It doesn’t have to be the whole card. I’ve been doing this for years. You can cut around just the snowman, the gingerbread house, the nativity scene, whatever you like. The perfect Green gift card for your package! You can even collect holiday cards at work for this re-purposing.

There are lots more alternatives to presenting your gifts in a Green way; it just takes some thinking outside of the box! In the meantime, I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas!

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. You can reach her at, or follow her on Instagram at TheGreenSpaceKC.