With 'Furoshiki,' You Won't Need Wrapping Paper This Holiday Season.

Person holding a fabric-wrapped box

Rosita Rutkauskiene / EyeEm / Getty Images

Do you ever dream of a waste-free holiday season, or a Christmas morning that isn’t knee-deep in crumpled wrapping paper? Well, here’s the solution you’ve been waiting for. Allow me to introduce origami’s lesser-known cousin, furoshiki, which is a traditional Japanese cloth-folding technique that allows you to wrap objects of various shapes and sizes in a single piece of cloth. It might look daunting at first, but if you watch this YouTube tutorial, you’ll quickly see that the folding steps are much simpler than the finished product appears to be. (And, if you’re like me, your jaw will drop open as you watch because it’s so mesmerizing and beautiful.)

The Japanese government launched a campaign several years ago to revive furoshiki in hopes of reducing dependency on plastic bags. It dates from the 14th century, when it was used to wrap clothes into a secure bundle while visiting public baths. The Minister of the Environment released this PDF with diagrams on how to fold different objects, and explained why furoshiki is still relevant today:

“[Furoshiki] is much better than plastic bags you receive at supermarkets or wrapping paper, since it’s highly resistant, reusable, and multipurpose. In fact, it’s one of the symbols of traditional Japanese culture and puts an accent on taking care of things and avoiding waste.”

If you have gifts to wrap this holiday season, why not try out furoshiki instead of wrapping paper? Not only will your gifts stand out and look beautiful wrapped in fabric, but you could also add a copy of the folding diagrams to help spread the word. You can buy furoshiki fabric online. I found some lovely ones on Etsy, as well as at Furoshiki.com and Eco-Wrapping. Or else just use a square piece of fabric that's big enough for whatever you're wrapping. Check out this tutorial for some measurements and great instructional photos.