Ah, Christmas! The annual celebration of Jesus's birth, and an excuse for us to abandon all kinds of virtues we try so hard to preserve throughout the year. A healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and physical exercise? Try gluttony and sloth – no problem at all to commit a few cardinal sins on one of the most important days in Christianity. No seriously, we are definitely entitled to a little break from trying to be our best selves all year around.

Generally with Christmas, we do not really want to make compromises. We want to indulge in jolly exuberance, and rightfully so – Christmas is a holiday! Caring about the environment, however, is not something that we should neglect, not even briefly. Admittedly, it is not always easy to implement sustainability, especially in cultural traditions that go way back. And this is where this post actually starts: I want to talk about easy ways to be sustainable during the Christmas period, and if you have not already guessed from the super witty title of this post, one of those ways concerns presents.

Presents belong to Christmas like the bushy white beard to Santa Claus. Wrapping paper, on the other hand, is fairly dispensable, if you ask me. It is heavily bleached and coated paper that we only buy to throw away, which is unbelievably wasteful. Wrapping paper is arguably one of our prettiest and worst Christmas traditions – we are so used to it that the thought of doing without it almost physically hurts.

But of course, you should not have to give up the joy of wrapping presents in your Christmas jammies while listening to Shakin’ Stevens and The Pogues, and so I want to propose some alternatives. The easiest way to spare the environment is to simply keep the wrapping paper that you greedily tore off your presents last Christmas and reuse it. This way, you save a little money, get a colourful pile of differently wrapped presents to give to your loved ones and help saving some trees.

“Yeah cool, I can’t go back in time and collect the wrapping paper from last year though, can I,” you say?

Fear not, my friend, because I also have an eco-friendly solution for this scenario, and it is simultaneously the one that is even more sustainable. Instead of wrapping paper you can cut up paper bags, which you will probably have a ton of since the vast majority of shops does not give out plastic ones anymore. Many of them are actually very pretty – they come in different colours and with lettering and prints that can make beautiful wrapping. Here is how I wrapped some of my own presents this year:

The little bows are obviously not very sustainable, but I still had some left from previous years. Paper wrapping is perfect to draw on as well, so if you do not have old decorations you can do that, too.

If you let your creative juices flow, I am sure you will find even more materials that can be used for wrapping. And if you do not want to do any of this, you can still buy recycled wrapping paper.