Because millions of pounds of wrapping paper end up in landfills each Christmas.

By Emily VanSchmus
September 10, 2020
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A few years ago, my family found out that wrapping paper can’t be recycled—which means that 4 million pounds of wrapping paper head to the landfill each year. So, we decided to switch from paper gift wrap to fabric drawstring bags, and we’ve never looked back. 

The first year, my mom sewed several different sizes of drawstring bags. Now, when my family gets together at Thanksgiving everyone takes the bags they need and uses them to “wrap” their Christmas gifts. When we’re done opening gifts on Christmas morning, we collect all the bags and store them until the next year. We’ll sew a new bag if we don’t have the right size, but so far the system of reusing bags has worked really well for us. Plus, we’ve saved hundreds of dollars not buying gift wrap—not to mention the amount of wrapping paper we’ve saved from being tossed into the landfill.

If you’re interested in picking up this tradition, you can certainly make your own bags (I recommend heading to JoAnn Fabrics the week after Christmas to stock up on marked-down holiday fabric for next year). If you’re not handy with a sewing machine, there are some adorable (and affordable) options available on Etsy. Here are my top picks for each size. 

Courtesy of Etsy / RPlinen

This festive gift bag is perfect for small gifts like jewelry or a small bag of Christmas cookies. The 4x7 inch option is pictured, but there are 20 different sizes available. This one is ready in 3-5 business days and ships free with $35 orders, so don’t wait to stock up! 

Buy It: Drawstring Christmas Bag, $2

Courtesy of Etsy / RPlinen

If you’re wrapping medium-sized gifts—think books or candles—this 7x9 inch linen bag should cover it. Plus, the pattern of Santas and reindeer is seriously festive! The bag ships in 3-5 business days and is available in 17 sizes, so you can grab a matching set in all different sizes.

Buy It: Drawstring Christmas Bag, $5

Courtesy of Etsy / WraptEssentials

For gifts the size of a journal or a board game, opt for this 10x11 inch drawstring bag. It comes in two patterns (blue fabric with Santas or green fabric with red trucks) and ships for free. It’s estimated to take about 9 days to arrive, so don’t wait to order it!

Buy It: Christmas Drawstring Bag, $9

Courtesy of Etsy / JamesNovelty

This 19x25 inch bag works great for really big gifts, but it’s also a sweet idea for gifts from Santa. When I was a kid, gifts from Santa were always wrapped in a separate paper, so this is a fun (and eco-friendly) way to distinguish the gifts while going green. Just leave the empty bags out at night, and when the kids wake up they’ll be filled with gifts! Plus, the bags can be personalized with your children’s names for an extra festive touch.

Buy It: Santa Sack, from $9

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