The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
December 18, 2007

Wrapping presents without tape or glue

Here are two Christmas presents I received tonight from a company I work for, each containing at least 4 pieces of Scotch (plastic) tape. One thing my friends and family know about me is that I can’t wait to open presents, and tonight was no exception. So I justified my impatience by resolving to figure out a way to re-wrap the same presents using no tape or glue at all.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been searching the web for instructions, hoping to find a way to wrap gifts without any tape OR ribbon. I even went to Borders after work tonight to look for a book on gift-wrapping, to no avail. The couple of books I found required double-sided tape. So I decided I’d just have to figure it out myself. I got part of the way there. The method I discovered does require some ribbon to hold it in place, but nothing sticky.

Why, you may ask, am I making a big deal out of something as petty as a little bit of tape? Well, I guess it’s not a huge deal when you look at the mountains of plastic in this world. But why use something if you don’t have to? And not putting tape or glue on the paper leaves it in better shape to be reused by the recipient.

Normally, I’m a terrible, lazy gift-wrapper, preferring reused gift bags and a bit of reused tissue paper. And I guess if I were going to wrap a box, I wouldn’t use new wrapping paper, but maybe a grocery bag or the comics pages from the newspaper, with twine or yarn instead of plasticy ribbon. But these are the materials I was given to work with, so here goes:

  1. Wrap the paper around the box and pull the two long edges together so that they meet in the middle.
  2. Fold both edges of paper over and flatten them down.
  3. This is what the seam looks like.
  4. On the side of the box, fold each flap of paper one at a time, clockwise.
  5. Tuck the bottom flap underneath the right flap and press it flat.
  6. Turn the box on its side and fold the flaps on the other side of the box in the same manner. Use the pressure of the box against the floor to keep the first side in place while working on the second side.
  7. If you were really careful, the paper might stay put without ribbon. But who wants to be that careful? Tie your ribbon or string or yarn very tightly around the box to hold the paper in place.

So you want to know what was in the boxes? A very nice Riedel wine decanter and two merlot glasses. Totally plastic-free! (I don’t know if there was plastic in the boxes before they were wrapped or not. A lot of people know I am not into plastic these days, so the gift-giver may have taken it out. Or maybe there wasn’t any in there to begin with. I’m just glad I only ended up with a tiny bit of tape!)

There are all kinds of other creative ways of wrapping gifts. Clever fabric bags, handkerchiefs, Japanese furoshiki, etc. What are your favorites? I’ll certainly be using the bare minimum of wrapping simply because I don’t enjoy doing it. But others love to wrap gifts. Please share!

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35 Comments on "Wrapping presents without tape or glue"

2 months 13 days ago

That didn’t help at all

2 years 5 months ago

Or you could just use gift bags! Those things can get reused a thousand times.

2 years 5 months ago

Thank you! I just wrapped a couple of packages for our clients and wished that I didn’t have to use tape – not only because it doesn’t look great with tape showing, but also because it isn’t eco-friendly! One google search later and here I am… thanks again

[…] Instead of plastic tape try to wrap a present without it. The lovely Beth Terry from My Plastic-Free Life explains how in “Wrapping gifts without tap or glue.” […]

3 years 7 months ago

Awesome! I’m SO going to do this.

[…] some sort of origami-esque instructions for folding paper just so, holding everything in place.  The closest tutorial I could find, however, was from Beth at Fake Plastic […]

[…] Consider wrapping your gifts without tapes. […]

4 years 5 months ago

I wrap gifts in fabric and use cloth ribbon to hold it all together….no tape necessary! :D

» Going Green Colourful Threads
4 years 11 months ago

[…] gave me a bag of fabric scraps. I found a bunch of squares that might have been meant for a quilt. Beth’s post about Christmas wrap, and her link to Furoshiki got my creative juices flowing. The result is a smallish kerchief-like […]

5 years 2 months ago

Thanks for walking us thru this with pictures! Very helpful.

I was looking for this very idea because my dad (who passed away in 2002) use to wrap presents this way all the time. I never learned how to do it, and was just talking to someone about it yesterday. Got me thinking that I should learn it now anyway as a part of his memory.
He would like that.

5 years 5 months ago

Forgive me if this was already stated but I didn’t read every comment yet. It seems to me taht you whould be able to make a slit in the paper to tuck the flap in and that perhaps it would stay put. I’d also suggest looking into origami techniques if wrapping is necessary.

[…] Addicted to gift paper? Yeah, me too. Don’t worry! Fake Plastic Fish has a tutorial on how to wrap presents without tape or glue! […]

5 years 7 months ago

One nice idea is to wrap gifts in a towel, blanket, dishcloth, or scarf. If it’s a wedding gift, use a towel from their registry. If it’s a baby gift, use a baby spit up cloth. You can tie it with a ribbon and then they can use it again! Also, I like homemade wrapping paper that you can decorate yourself.

6 years 6 months ago

Thanks for the helpful photo tutorial! I hadn’t even thought of not using glue or tape. I’ve included a link to this in our article on DIY wrapping here.

7 years 11 days ago

I know I’m way late on this one, but I’m new to this blog! Anyway, what I did this last year for xmas was purchase the $1 reusable bags from the grocery store and put the presents in the bag.

What I did for presents was fill the bags with CFL bulbs, a certificate for a donation made in their honor to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and homemade bath salts with sea salt, epsom salts, baking soda, and essential oils, and put them in glass Ball caning jars.

All together the presents were something that everybody could use again and again, and they also helped to make a difference in the community. And my family loved it!

Mud Mama
7 years 1 month ago

One word – furoshiki

I’ve been using fabric scraps and japanese wrapping techniques for years.

The fabric can definitely be used again. I started with kids gifts and I was using silk scarves that got added to the dress ups (I found the silk scarves at the thrift shop)

7 years 5 months ago

neat idea. can’t wait to try it next time i have to wrap a present!

one thing though – i like to re-use things (i.e. old calendars) instead of wrapping paper. often the calendar sheets are not large enough so i tape together a couple (it makes an interesting pattern if they are from the same calendar.

i like that i can avoid wrapping paper altogether and re-purpose an item that would normally be trash. this does mean use of tape. any ideas how else to do this without tape? (and gift bags are a good idea too, but sometimes i do like to “wrap” gifts).

anna banana
7 years 5 months ago

this year i’ve wrapped with paper and ribbon (and tape) that i already had, but i’m totally excited about furoshiki for the “from now on”! thanks for the link!

one thing i like doing is putting the gift in the center of a piece of paper and then gathering the paper around the gift and tying it with ribbon in one or two places (think peppermint candy or the ridiculous “gift basket” plastic wrapping, only nicer).

Suburban Farmer
7 years 5 months ago

I wrapped all my gifts in tea towels this year. I just wrapped them like I would have with paper and then held them together with some gold curling ribbon. The curling ribbon is not the most sustainable item, but I had it from last year, so better to use that than buy something new, I figured. I cut labels out of some nice paper I had here and punch a hole for the ribbon to go through. Next year I will be a bit more organised with it all and make the tea towels myself from fabric bought at a secondhand store. I will also use some twine or similar instead of ribbon.
I am glad you have inspired me in this direction! Merry Christmas.

7 years 5 months ago

I have been using cloth bags for at least 20 years .. Think pillow case with ribbon inserted in one seam .. The top is folded over and sewn so once its tied the pretty side still is showing

Easy to make and they fold flat for storage ..

For those with special needs kids (the original reason I did this) they do not tend to set off bi-polar, ODD/CD, ADHD kids as much as paper .. Perhaps because it looks like grocery bags (colourful but still similar), maybe its the lack of sound, or the reflections from the lights .. whatever it helped make presents less traumatic