3 Steps to Calming the Wrapping Paper Madness

4 presents wrapped in newspapers

Calming the Wrapping Paper Madness

Christmas is coming, and while I love having lots of people for gift opening and our kids love having lots of gifts, it makes for some craziness with wrapping paper. Some years we’re just swimming in wrapping paper and I’m always afraid we’re going to lose a gift or two in the craziness. 

There are plenty of ways to make your wrapping paper greener – consider using newspaper or decorated butcher block paper.  My personal favorite way to make your wrapping greener is to switch to gift bags. Why gift bags?

  • They cut your wrapping time down dramatically. You can wrap your gifts in a fraction of the time it usually takes.
  • It will make opening the gifts much less frustrating for the young children.
  • Gift bags are reusable.  Dramatically less waste
  • Gift bags are not as messy as ripped paper so it will be much easier to clean up.
picture of gift bags under Christmas tree

Gift bags are quicker, easier to open and reusable

However, gift bags don’t work for everything or everyone.  While my kids don’t mind getting some things in gift bags, they still really like opening wrapping paper. I’ve also noticed that Santa continues to insist on commercially purchased wrapping paper. So what is an environmentally minded family to do about the wrapping paper madness that can ensue on Christmas Morning?


Here is my 3 Step Plan to Calm the Wrapping Paper Madness:

  • Step 1: The day before speak with everyone about “the plan”.  Get everyone on board.  Use reasons they can appreciate – less mess to clean up, easier to recycle, less chaos, whatever works to get them on board. Designate someone to be responsible for collecting reusable items like bows and and if there’s a use for them, twist ties.  Decide if there is an interest in trying to save wrapping paper for future occasions.  We didn’t use to think it was worth it to save a few pennies, but now we’re willing to do it for ecological reasons – at least when we have space to store it.
    Also make sure everyone knows what numbers plastic are recyclable where you are for all the plastic packaging that stuff comes in these days :-(.
  • Step 2: Keep an eye out when people are bringing gifts to put under the tree and snag any  large shopping bags that come down. Designate one bag for reusable items like bows, another for reusable gift bags.  Designate another one (or three) for recycling. Get a large plastic bag for actual trash.  Set these aside, but keep it easily available.
  • Step 3: Action!  During the unwrapping, try to get the reusable items collected as they are produced.  Perhaps have a bag in the middle of the room that everyone can toss bows into it.  2 points for a good shot!  Teach kids to look for the recycling symbol on their packages, it can be like a “Where in the World is Waldo” game.  If you can get people to sort as they go, the work afterwards will be a lot simpler.
Merry Christmas from the Hunts!

Merry Christmas from the Hunts!

When you have a large group celebrating Christmas together there will inevitably be chaos, but with a little organization and forethought, you can keep it to a manageable level.

Good luck and Merry Green Christmas!


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  1. I save all my gift bags and reuse them. Buying wrapping paper is such a waste.

  2. I love these ideas! We have a plethora of gift bags! They’re so expensive and some people throw them away…I cringe! I don’t even buy tissue paper, just tape the bag up!

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