Reusable Gift Wrapping

Growing up, my family always reused gift bags until they looked too worn or fell apart.  I think it was part frugal, and part “why throw away something perfectly good and useful?”  I have carried that into my adult life, and tend to avoid wrapping paper due to the single-use aspect.  A couple years ago, I decided to up my game and make longer-lasting reusable gift packaging.  

reusable fabric gift bag and chalk tag

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Reusable Gifts Bags

I decided to tackle Christmas wrapping first.  I found a large Christmas tablecloth at a thrift store (Savers – my favorite thrift store in my area) for $5.  I picked up some ribbon on clearance from Michael’s and Christmastree Shops.  I was ready to go!

Sewing designs for reusable gift bags

tow reusable fabric gift bags
different string designs make the finished product look more of less frilly

I first used a draw-string backpack for inspiration on how to design my gift bag.  After making a couple, I realized I would improve my design by using used a draw-string jewelry bag for inspiration, instead.  The difference is that the backpack has just one pocket running around the top of the opening, through which the string or ribbon is run.  The jewelry bags have two pockets, one over the other, with the ribbon running through the bottom one.  This allows the top “pocket” to fold and ruffle and look more pretty and gift-y!  

tops of two different drawstring reusable bags
the bag at the top has the double pocket style, and the bag at the bottom has the single drawstring pocket style

Simple designs

I’ve made some very simple reusable gift bags that were just a rectangle of fabric, folded in half and sewed, leaving one side open.  Rather than having an integrated draw-string, I’ve just tied a ribbon around the top.  This shape bag works well for more fat, envelope-shaped gifts, but doesn’t work as well for thicker rectangular or round gifts.

reusable fabric gift bag and tag

Cylindrical fabric reusable gift bag

My favorite style reusable gift bag has a more cylinder shape.  I have found this to be most versatile, since it can incorporate a wide range of gift shapes.  Even rectangular boxes fit well.  To make these, I cut out a circle of fabric (I trace a bowl or plate, I couldn’t draw a circle to save my life! But really, the shape doesn’t matter.  Ovals work fine.)  I then cut a rectangle of fabric with one length the same as the circumference of the circle. 

cylindrical fabric reusable gift bag

What About No-Sew Designs?

I have sewed all of my reusable gift bags, because I’ve been sewing since I was a kid and I find basic sewing to be easy enough.  The no-sew alternative that I thought of was fabric gluing instead of sewing.  Theoretically any design could be made this way, and as long as the glue was allowed to dry thoroughly, it should hold up pretty well.  

I personally would try to flat/rectangle designs first, as they do not require holding up more complex shapes.  It’s just folding fabric, gluing, and letting dry.  

There’s also an even simpler reusable gift bag option that uses no sewing, no glue, just fabric and ribbon or string to tie.  Just cut out a somewhat square or circle-type shape (pinking shears are advisable as they will prevent fraying, but are not essential).  Place the gift in the middle, gather up the fabric, and tie the fabric above the gift. Just like wrapping a gift basket!

gift wrapped by bundling fabric and tying with a ribbon, like a gift basket

For a more smooth, finished look more similar to using paper to wrap gifts, the Japanese furoshiki cloth wrapping style looks great!  I have not spent much time playing around with this wrapping style, so I will point you over to this Wellness Mama post for some great instructions.

Cost to Make Fabric Reusable Gift Bags

My large tablecloth provided enough fabric for me to make about 10 reusable gift bags of varying sizes.  Considering the best prices I have found for paper gift bags is $0.50-$1.00, I think I did pretty well for myself!  I did put in more time than purchasing gift bags, but I enjoyed it, and I enjoy knowing that these will last for years and are keeping waste out of landfills. 

Reusable Gift Tags

I also decided to make some reusable gift tags.  I was inspired by these little flat wood pieces with festive designs on one side.  I found them on clearance at Michael’s for $0.10 right after Christmas a couple years ago.

wood piece with snowflake design

I drilled a small hole in the top for a string to use for attaching to gifts.  Then I mixed up some chalk paint using black acrylic paint and some dry spackle in a ratio of about 10 parts paint to 1 part spackle and painted it on the back of the wood pieces.  I painted 3 layers, allowing to fully dry between coats.  Then I tied a little cotton string through the hole.  I use chalk to label the tags, then use the drawstring bag ribbons to attach the tag to the gift wrap. 

Note: I used spackle that I have had for ages, and I cannot find that type anymore.  From my research, it seems unsanded grout also works pretty much the same.  Also, both acrylic and latex paints work. 

gift tag with DIY chalkboard backing

This year, I have been able to wrap all of my gifts in these reusable gift bags or other gift boxes or reusable bags that I have acquired over the years.  I plan to make more bags in different fabrics, and more tags, to make sure I always have enough!  I found another $5 tablecloth at Savers and am just waiting until I have some time to transform that fabric into more reusable gift bags.

christmas tree with gifts wrapped in fabric reusable gift bags with reusable chalk tags

Many uses for OxiClean (sodium percarbonate)

I first wrote about using OxiClean, or really its active ingredient sodium percarbonate, last year when I wrote about washing towels.  Since then, I have found so many other ways to use OxiClean in my home.  

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Skip to the list or keep reading about what kind of OxiClean I use.

OxiClean vs. Sodium Percarbonate – what’s the difference?

I purchase the bulk ingredient that is the active ingredient in OxiClean: sodium percarbonate.  I use it like OxiClean, I simply use about half as much since it has none of the additives of OxiClean.  Like OxiClean, the solution of sodium percarbonate in water is a base, and it can be harsh on skin so I avoid direct contact.  From my research, I was unable to find justification to add sodium carbonate (also called soda ash and super washing soda) to my sodium percarbonate for the “OxiClean” soak benefits, so I use plain ol’ sodium percarbonate.  

I buy this sodium percarbonate from Amazon, and recommend either a pure sodium percarbonate, or OxiClean Baby (I typically find the best price for it at Target or Walmart, but have had to order online).   I will not use any other OxiClean product, or other oxygen based cleaners, because all the others I have found are not pure sodium percarbonate/sodium carbonate, and the additives are (at least possible) skin irritants and harmful to the environment.  The Environmental Working Group evaluates multiple different OxiClean products here, and OxiClean Baby is the only one to get an “A” rating – the best possible.  

Here’s a reminder why I love powdered OxiClean, or Sodium PerCarbonate as a “bleach”

Oxygenated bleach can be liquid or powder.  Liquid has a shelf life of only a few months, or less.  Powdered is more stable, with a shelf life of a couple years, therefore I prefer powdered form.  When oxygenated bleach breaks down, the resultant products are quite safe: liquid becomes oxygen and water, powdered becomes oxygen and natural soda ash (also known as washing soda, or sodium carbonate).  So there is no danger to the break down, but the product becomes ineffective at cleaning the way that oxygen bleach cleans

How long does OxiClean stay “active”?

The active ingredient in OxiClean, sodium percarbonate, is active for about 6 hours after first being dissolved in water.  Therefore, when soaking anything in OxiClean, anything over 6 hours has no added cleaning benefit unless the water is dumped out and new OxiClean-water solution is added.

9 ways to use OxiClean (sodium percarbonate)
  1. Soaking towels before washing to kill any mold or bacteria that is growing on the towels.  See my post dedicated to washing towels for more details. 
  2. Soaking sheets before washing, for the same reasons I soak towels.  More information is in this post dedicated to washing sheets
  3. Removing blood stains (even dried! even heat-set in!) from fabrics.  I basically spot-clean by soaking the stain.  I dampen the stain with water and put a high concentration of sodium percarbonate on the stain.  Detailed instructions are in one of my previous posts.
  4. Killing black mold.   I like trying to use oxygenated bleach any time I normally think to use bleach, because oxygen bleach is gentle on the environment.  In my hot car I found a mason jar that had been previously used for storing my lunch.  There was black mold on the top of the jar and on the inside of the lid, including the red part that allows the lids to seal.  I soaked the jar with the top upside down in a bowl with a little water and sodium percarbonate, and I soaked the lid in a bowl of water and sodium percarbonate.  I allowed about 2 hours soaking time and when I checked on them, the mold was gone.  I washed the jar and lid with my castile soap and water and it was all clean again!
  5. De-stink sweaty clothes.  I soak exceptionally sweaty/smelly clothes in oxi-clean before normal laundering.  They come out smelling completely fresh!
  6. Soak handkerchiefs.  When I am at home I use handkerchiefs in place in tissues.  To get them really clean and not smell, I sprinkle a little sodium percarbonate in a small container of water and put the handkerchiefs in with the cover on.  I add a little more sodium percarbonate each day when I add handkerchiefs.  When I do laundry, I just scoop out the handkerchiefs, toss them in the washing machine, and dump the remaining soak water down the sink.
  7. Cleaning reusable pads.  To kill any germs and clean stains, I soak reusable pads in water with sodium percarbonate before laundering.  
  8. Soak cloth baby diapers.  Soaking cloth baby diapers in a sodium percarbonate & water solution is great for removing stains, smells, and (I assume) bacteria and other unpleasantness associated with human waste.  Along the same lines, using OxiClean to soak baby spit-up stains on cloth works great, too!
  9. Update 10/2019: Cleaning mouth guards/night guards I soak my night guard in a solution of sodium percarbonate and water daily to sanitize before wearing again each night, and it’s clean looking and smelling after each soak.

instructions for washing towels overlaid on photo of towels in washing machine
1. How I wash towels (using OxiClean)

How to wash sheets. Sheet washing guidance overlaid on photo of sheets in washing machine
2. How I wash sheets using OxiClean

Instructions how to remove dried blood stains from fabric
3. How I remove blood stains from fabric using OxiClean


I would love to make this list even longer.  Do you have other uses for OxiClean?  Please share in the comments below!