How to Do Furoshiki

Getting Started & History

The Spruce / Caylin Harris

While Furoshiki is an eco-friendly way to wrap a gift, it's also downright beautiful. Honestly, sometimes wrapping paper is so gorgeous that it's painful to tear into it just to throw it away a few minutes later. We can't be the only ones that feel that way! The beautiful patterns and colors on the fabric are perfect as an ornate covering for a present. Not only is fabric more forgiving (not to mention sturdier) than wrapping paper, it's like including a second gift. Your lucky recipient will get to keep and enjoy both.

An easy technique to master, Furoshiki has a rich history that dates back thousands of years—roughly 1,200 years in fact. It derived from Japan, where folks would use these cloths to bundle their clothing up while at public baths. Over time, the practice developed into a clever way for people to carry around a variety of items. While they were replaced in large part by plastic bags, this art form has been seeing a resurgence as a green alternative.

Gather Your Materials

Furoshiki supplies
The Spruce / Caylin Harris

It's worth noting that while you can buy Furoshiki wraps, you don't have to seek out this specialty item. You can use scrap fabric, a beautiful bandana, a silk scarf, or even a decorative dish towel depending on the size of the gift. We think it's fun to match the type of fabric to the type of gift you're giving. A beautiful pair of vintage salt and pepper shakers, for example, could be matched with a thin decorative dish towel. The one thing you want to keep in mind is that you do want the fabric to roughly be a 20-inch square. Here's what you'll need:

  • A square piece of fabric
  • Your gift
  • Decorative bits to add to the "bow"

Smooth Out Your Scarf

Lay gift in middle of flat scarf
The Spruce / Caylin Harris

Lay your scarf on a clean, flat surface and smooth it out completely. Then place your gift directly in the center of the square.

Tie Your First Square Knot

Tie square knot in furoshiki
The Spruce / Caylin Harris

Bring the two opposite sides together over the center of your present. Form a square knot, which is a fancy way of saying, tie the two sides together like you would when you're tying a shoelace. Then repeat. This is the first step before you start to form the bow, and it's done twice to form a sort of double knot. Easy, right? 

Repeat With Remaining Two Corners

Tie corners into knot for furoshiki
The Spruce / Caylin Harris

Grab and draw the remaining two corners up and have them meet at the top. Tie another square knot. Can you believe that you're almost done? No cutting paper, no unattractive tape—it's just a quick, simple, and totally gorgeous way of presenting a gift.

Fluff the Excess

Fluff excess material in furoshiki
The Spruce / Caylin Harris

You'll be left with four small pieces from each corner as excess. Treat them the same way you could a bow. Fluff them up and you can get a little creative with what you do with them. You can let them hang, tuck them up so they look more like a traditional bow, and you can also tuck little bits like a few floral sprigs, dried flowers, or anything festive into the bow to further decorate. Once you get the hang of this simple technique, try different versions for other items you might want to gift or just to get a different look. Again, this is such a thoughtful and pretty way to give a present—and who doesn't love getting an extra gift!