An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Wrapping Paper

Want a waste-conscious gift wrap that’s way simpler than fussing with paper and ribbon? Take a cue from an age-old Japanese custom called furoshiki, and transform scraps of fabric into wrapping that’s both green and gorgeous. Here's how to do it.
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Want a waste-conscious gift wrap that’s way simpler than fussing with paper and ribbon? Take a cue from an age-old Japanese custom called furoshiki, and transform scraps of fabric into wrapping that’s both green and gorgeous. “Instead of ending up with garbage bags full of paper, you’re presenting gifts in a very artful and beautiful and completely reusable way,” says Kris Sazaki, co-author of Furoshiki Fabric Wraps. She also favors furoshiki for toting baked goods and other foods to parties or for wrapping a bottle of wine as a host or hostess gift.

Traditionally used to carry clothes to and from public bathhouses, furoshiki can be fashioned from scarves, cloth napkins, handkerchiefs, bandanas, bolts of sewing material, or any other lightweight fabric. Techniques abound, but you can easily master the most basic: set your gift in the center of the fabric (ideally a piece three times wider than the object), tie two of the diagonal corners into a knot, then form a second knot with the two remaining corners. “It’s easier than tying your shoes,” says Holly Westhoff, a Los Angeles–based jewelry designer who uses furoshiki to package her products. “But it’s so unique and eye-catching, no one would ever guess that it takes no time at all.”

Tip Anything from satin to flannel can serve as furoshiki material, says Sazaki: “But in general, the more the fabric drapes, the easier it is to wrap.”

Shopping Option While scouring thrift stores and your own closet is a great way to find fabric for furoshiki, you can also purchase traditional wraps online. Our picks: Hanabi ($9; furoshiki.com) and Give Love ($16; chewingthecud.bigcartel.com).