Furoshiki: simple ways to wrap gifts with cloth

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/19/furoshiki-the-many-simple-way.html


Because nice furoshiki cloths can cost $12-30 each. Without an ecosystem where people trade the cloths back and forth, the cloths do not get re-used and are even more wasteful than paper.

I love furoshiki wrapping. I’ve tried to spread this great idea by giving away cloths and books on wrapping, as well as giving presents wrapped this way in really cool furoshiki cloths having contrasting patterns front and back for the neatest wrapping styles, with the cloths sometimes costing more than the gift, but I’ve yet to really convince friends or family about how awesome they are, so it’s kind of expensive and one sided - which is ok, since they are gifts, and with the right wrapping the thought really can count. But it’s not cheap or efficient in the US.


Then what am I going to do with the 100 half used rolls of wrapping paper my Dear Wife refuses to part with?


We have wrapped family Xmas presents in cloth since our kids were toddlers. They are rarely as elegant as proper furoshiki wraps, since the cloth we use is often too heavy to tie good-looking knots in. We use reusable ribbon to hold them together. You can get nice remnants of Xmas-themed cloth from your local fabric store very cheaply.

I can’t overemphasize the difference this can make on Xmas morning if you have kids. Instead of the ripping and rustling, wading knee deep in crumpled paper, and the trash bag full of waste, there is the silent unfolding of cloth and the neat pile of wrappings put away for next year. And a nice fabric can make any gift look more posh.

As you point out, this doesn’t necessarily work among friends and acquaintances, but I’m glad to see someone spreading the word.


Wallpaper the spare room?

or my personal top new entry in the list of things that will get you zoomed right to the top of my “oh my god, I don’t understand these people” list (why, yes I have a lot of lists):

Wrap hardcover books with patterned wallpaper or wrapping paper and stack them for seasonal decor.

Somewhere we must take a stand! Books are never purely decorative objects!


There are sometimes suitable substitutes for official furoshiki cloths.

Today I gave my boss homemade fresh sage, preserved lemon and goat cheese spread (ok, the spread was a puree but it thickens well) in a wee mason jar for her winter holiday gift, and I wrapped it in a bright green placemat. It looked funky, luridly festive. My knotwork is unlikely to impress any purist but I am not in Japan so I think I can probably get away from it.

I’ve used pillowcases (nice ones) to either wrap around gifts or as an envelope to hold them. I have used kitchen towels, especially ones with funny pictures on them, as wrapping cloths. And tablecloths from thrift stores if I have something big to wrap.

Flat washable things that are colorful and useful can be adapted, if you have the leeway or gift recipients too polite to complain.

I gave a friend this book

(a standard for much cooking in the U.S.).

I wrapped it in a heavy cotton twill chef’s apron. It was a housewarming present, and as her former roommate I was pretty sure she’d need both things sooner rather than later. Again, my knotwork wasn’t perfect, but it good enough. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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