Most likely by now, your holiday shopping is done and now comes time to envelop your gifts with care. As with many things, a thoughtful presentation for Christmas gifts builds anticipation and makes the whole thing feel special. As with many things, a thoughtful presentation for Christmas gifts builds anticipation and makes the whole thing feel special. I personally love hearing the recipients of my gifts exclaim that it's almost too lovely to unwrap. That said, however, wrapping presents is, in and of itself, a rather wasteful activity—in fact, half of the paper we consume annually is used to wrap gifts, which is perfunctorily thrown out hours later, and lots of wrapping paper is unrecylable because it's coated to make it glossy. And it's not just paper: If every family in the US reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. What a thought!
While these thoughts of excess and waste are certainly sobering, the point of this feature is not to depress but rather inspire to create gifts wrapped beautifully and with thought not just to the recipient, but to the planet as well. It makes me feel good, wonderful in fact, to make use of natural and sustainable goods, many reused, and still have gifts turn out beautifully. For this feature, photographer Lauren Kolyn teamed up with Marie Claire Gagnier, an artist and yoga teacher who takes special pleasure in gift wrapping. So take a peek and get inspired by these nature-themed parcels. Brew up a hot cup of something wonderful and crank up the tunes. Hopefully you have all that you need to recreate these special packages already at home or just outside your door.
Brown kraft paper is one of our personal favourites for wrapping as the neutral backdrop just begs to be adorned. You can easily purchase post-consumer recyled kraft paper, and it is 100% recyclable afterward. You could also do one better and resuse large, brown paper shopping bags. Simply cut them open along the seam and cut away the base. The wrinkles in the paper just add charm!
Natural greenery makes a perfect accent. Since you are simply cutting sprigs, a little will go a long way. Often you can even find what you need littering the ground around large pine, spruce, hemlock and cedar trees. If not, simply snip a small branch at a node (where a small branch off-shoots the main stem) since this is where regrowth will occur.
String is needed to tie on gift labels and afix the greenery or decoration. The sustainable choice here is something that will readily biodegrade. We like natural, unbleached cotton string (like butcher string), jute or hemp twine, or even a thin piece of leather that you can reuse year after year.
If you do use materials that can easily be reused, first offer them to the person receiving the gift explaining that they could recreate this look next year, and if they choose not to keep it, then you can reclaim it yourself.
Birch bark is another beautiful accent. All that is required for this is a few, papery wisps which should not harm the tree but please take care when harvesting birch bark. In this case, if you can't find any on the ground, find wispy pieces that have curled away from the main bark and use scissors or shears to snip them away rather than peeling off more bark.
Pinecones of course are readily available in all sizes. Simply hunt around the base of large conifers or keep your eye out for them throughout the year to be saved. You can also purchase them from florists and nurseries.
Eucaplyptus makes another beautiful accent, both the regular and seeded variety. While not local, it is readily biodegradable and the silvery hues are lovely and festive.
Dusty miller as Marie Claire has used here is another silvery green plant that makes a beautiful accent. The weather has been unseasonably mild this year so you may still have some hardy specimens in the garden, or you can use a different type of hardy green like sage leaves or rosemary.
Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping gifts with fabric, is of course another way to cut down on waste. Tea towels are a good choice (especially linen ones) but that is a more expense choice despite the fact that the wrapping becomes part of the actual gift. Another favourite choice is vintage scarf squares which can often be found for a dollar at thrift stores. Keep an eye out for them throughout the year!
And last but not least, a sustainable gift-wrap feature would not be complete without recycling newsprint or magazine pages. It's a classic in my household and my husband even fashions ribbons and bows by folding the paper. To achieve a neutral, pleasing gift wrap that isn't too busy, choose pages with nothing but print in black and white.
CONTRIBUTORS & CREDITS:
LAUREN KOLYN, Photography: Lauren is a lifestyle and editorial photographer based in Montréal and Toronto, Canada. With a documentary approach to her photography, Lauren is a visual storyteller with a unique ability to capture the essence of the moment. Drawing much of her artistic inspiration from the natural environment, Lauren's photographic work explores the modest yet powerful beauty of her surroundings. She is also currently part of the Pure Green editorial team. View her work, follow her on Instagram.
MARIE CLAIRE GAGNIER, Gift Wrapping & Styling: Marie Claire is a Montreal-based artist and yoga instructor who is inspired by the simplicity of nature and its fine effortless details. She believes that there is an abundance of beauty that surrounds us everyday and that it should never be underestimated. Marie Claire is passionate about all things creative and sustainable and has always had a (secret) knack for gift decor. She was thrilled to have an opportunity to collaborate with PGM on this feature as a means to encourage meaningful gift giving, minimize single-use design and advocate the true brilliance of re-purposing, ingenuity and creativity!