Gift Wrap Inspiration: Foraged from the Winter Forest

October 06, 2021

Gift Wrap Inspiration: Foraged from the Winter Forest

 Who can resist an opportunity to head deep into the woods on mission to gather …and give the most handsome gifts ever?

As you prepare for your holiday gift wrapping, here’s some deep woodsy inspiration to get your creativity brewing. With a bit of planning ahead (not to mention the hearty reward of a forest bath), you can top your gifts with natural wooded vignettes full of hand foraged treasures. 

In our ongoing exploration of gift wrapping without bow, these new looks may be our all-time favorite.

Girl holding Christmas Gift with Red Stars Wrapping Paper and Organic Gift Toppers

But first, foraging.

This gift wrapping inspiration starts with a gathering mission. Set a date to head out to your favorite wooded trails; bring work gloves, clippers, a large basket (or two), and an open mind. Retrain your eye to look for the delicate beauty in bits of decay, to parts of fallen trees that have sprung new life, for colors and textures. 

Here’s a cheat sheet of interesting bits to keep watch for:

  • Dried branches and twigs, the more gnarled the better 
  • Patches of lichen and moss
  • Peeling bark
  • Rotting bark
  • Seed pods
  • Pine cone bunches
  • Feathers
  • Fallen birds nests
  • Evergreen sprigs
  • Eucalyptus leaves, pods, bark

It was wet in the forest where we gathered, so I let everything sit and dry in the sun for a few days. (I figured this also gave any little critters time to skitter away to find a new home.) The clippings of greens, of course, were kept in a bucket with water in the shade. As the forest dank dried out, everything became lightweight, a bit more brittle, and generally easier to work with for this purpose. After all, you do not want to put anything with moisture on your paper wrapped gift boxes. 

TIP: If you were lucky enough to find a fallen birds nest (do not remove from a tree and always ensure it is abandoned) here’s a good post on how to preserve it for use.

Christmas Wrapping Paper Foraged from the Winter Forest

Mise en place.

When I was ready to get begin wrapping, I laid out all the gathered goodies, piled by category on a big work table. This scene escalates into quite a mess with all the clippings and dried droppings, so an outdoor workspace is recommend. I sorted, clipped, stripped, and trimmed all the materials into the most desirable segments, at an appropriate size. I knew my biggest box was about 8” and most were smaller, so I concentrated on 4-6” segments. If you have a large box, you may want hold back some bigger pieces.

TIP: Break or snap the branches and bark rather than clipping them so you get naturally ragged edges on both sides.

Bark and Moss gift topper on eco-friendly wrapping paper


At this point, I tidied up my workspace so I could safely bring in all our gift boxes that I had pre-wrapped in Wrappily paper. Naturally, I stuck with the woodsy theme with these patterns: Noel Forest, Peace on Earth, and Winter Animals.

Let the wrapping begin.

Sort out your favorite bits—that perfectly gnarled twig and the prize pinecone bunch—and start building from there creating your scenes with color and texture. I default to advice I received years ago on compiling flower pots: you need thrillers (the showstoppers), fillers (to add bulk and fill voids), and spillers (the natural loose ends that flow the opposite direction and/or provide movement and grounding.)  

Unique Gift Wrapping Idea - Bird Gift Toppers with Recyclable Wrapping Paper

Despite my best Snow White, of course I did not get birds to come pose on my gifts. I had a stash of bird ornaments that I repurposed here for a bit of extra flair. This is entirely optional! Creatively, I was also wishing I’d thought of a clever way to craft-up some cute little mushrooms… maybe next time.

Additional wrapping supplies:

  • Paper ribbon (pictured here: Copper) 
  • Natural twine (pictured here: Black & Gold)
  • Double-stick tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • (optional) additional ornaments
  • (optional) floral wire or produce twist ties

Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas - Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper with Ribbon and Pinecones

Start with a tight lashing or two of the paper ribbon or twine. Use this as an anchor to start tucking in your elements. If you need to, wire your showpieces (like the birds or other showpieces) with short lengths of the floral wire so you can secure them into place. Go back and fill in voids with the lichens and mosses. Finish with any final dramatic touches your composition needs— a twisted twig? A raggedy roll of dried bark? A colorful pop of evergreen?

More is more. Or, less is more? That is up to you.

TIP: If you want to repurpose your toppers build them directly on to a wooden clothes pin. After the gift it can then be clipped to a wreath, put on the tree, added to a table centerpiece or added anywhere that needs a woodsy ornamental touch. 

You can also build the toppers directly on the gift with no ribbon or twine by adhering your items with little dots of hot glue like we did on this cylindrical gift. (pssst…it's a candle but don’t tell anyone!)

Holiday Gift Wrap - Foraged Gift Toppers from Nature with pine cones

Another way to skip the ribbon altogether is this look: use double stick tape to adhere a garland of leaves around your box. I used Eucalyptus, here and while it smelled wonderful, the leaves have a lot of natural oils and a dust on them which made for a little extra work. I think it paid off, though. I layered with a bit of sparkly twine for an extra pop, and couldn’t resist the rolled pieces of dry papery bark I collected at the base of the same Eucalyptus tree. 

Holiday Gift Wrapping tips - Bird and Bark Gift Toppers with Christmas Wrapping Paper

Last thoughts

It feels good to connect with nature and to share that love into the gifts you give this holiday season. It should go without saying, but be mindful and practice a light touch when gathering, ask permission if heading into other’s property, and make sure you are not causing damage to trees or wildlife. For this project, we really did focus on collecting from ground fall first. 

Gather what’s in your area, depending on your region what you are able to forage and your finished work may look different, but the process is the same. If you use these tips, be sure to share your results and tag us on social, we’d love to see them.

Happy wrapping!

Christmas Tree Wrapping paper with Twig & Twine Toppers