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Bonnie's 5 Fun Ideas for DIY Gift Wrap

This holiday season, CCRX wants to inspire people to look around for green alternatives to traditional gift wrap. Longtime environmental and arts programming specialist Bonnie Tawse taught us her tricks for making beautiful wrapping paper out of everyday household items.

First some background. According to a study published on, approximately four million pounds of wrapping is used between Christmas and New Years each year, enough to cover nearly 6,000 football fields. And because the dyes and materials used to make the paper can't be recycled, it all ends up—you guessed it!—in the landfill.

Below are five of Bonnie's best ideas for making beautiful wrappings using materials you may already have hanging around the house. For more suggestions and to make your own green gift wrapping, attend her upcoming workshops detailed at the end of the post.

IDEA #1: Save interesting paper and ribbons from gifts you have received from others. I keep a small store of wine bags, gift bags, cord, ribbons and paper on hand for DIY gift wrapping.

IDEA #2: Nobody uses maps anymore.

So passe! Put those old AAA items to work as beautiful and funky wrapping paper. If you don't have any laying around the house, ask anyone over the age of 65. Their glove boxes are full of maps.

And speaking of obsolete items, the ribbon on the pack is from a cast-off cassette tape. VHS tape makes good ribbon too!

IDEA #3: Get it from the grocery store.

If you look closely, you'll see this present is swaddled in a plastic bag from the grocery store. Add a little washi tape and some string and voila! A beautiful gift.

ALSO FROM THE GROCERY STORE: When you're looking through your stash of trash, look for containers that have interesting colors and patterns. This present is wrapped in a paper bag and encased inside one of those mesh lemon bags you find in the produce section. Since the mesh isn't recyclable, this is a great way to repurpose them. The green is festive and the mesh makes a cool pattern against the paper bag.

AND THIS FROM THE GROCERY STORE: Ah, the ubiquitous meat tray finally put to good use. I also like the addition of the green leaf, though I'm not sure how one finds a green leaf in December in Chicago, unless you pluck one from a houseplant. Is it a bay leaf?

IDEA #5: Stop buying expensive non-biodegradable ribbon. According to a recycling website published by Stanford University, 38,000 miles of ribbon are purchased each year, enough to tie a bow around planet Earth. Instead, use cooking twine, kite string, or colorful rubber bands, like those in the photo.

Learn more tips, tricks, and suggestions at Bonnie's Green Wrapping workshops:

Saturday, Dec. 1


North Park Village Nature Center

Tuesday, Dec. 18


Hideout's Last Chance Holiday Sale

Email us photos of your own green wrapping creations at or post them on Instagram with the hashtag #CCRX. We'll pick the best ones to feature in a future blog post.

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More about Bonnie Tawse. Bonnie Tawse has worked in environmental and arts programming and education in Chicago for more than twenty years. Bonnie is currently working as a consultant for The Trust for Public Land, doing community engagement and public programs for The 606 and its Bloomingdale Trail. She holds an M.A. in English, Creative Writing from CU Boulder and her writing has appeared in publications such as TimeOut Chicago Kids and Chicago Parent.

More about Liz Libby. Liz Libby is a strategic marketing and communications consultant who lives and works in Chicago. Liz produces websites and content for area universities and non-profit organizations. She is an avid cyclist, public transit enthusiast, and open-water swimmer. Liz can be reached at

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