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How to make the Saran Wrap Ball Game Eco-Friendly

Inside: How to play the popular saran wrap ball game without the plastic wrap. Learn how to wrap the ball in eco-friendly materials and still have a blast!

Coins and candy bars flew out in a whirlwind as my nephew flung open our gift to him: a saran wrap ball. I cleverly added coins and coin rolls that unexpectedly pelted us all in the face as he feverishly unrolled the ball!

My nephew told me it was one of his favorite gifts ever. Those 8.5 minutes of unrolling was the most entertaining moment of that Christmas.

The saran wrap ball game is one of the most popular ways to give cash gifts. Rolling out that big ole ball of fun, with candies, money, and small gifts falling out is a rip-roaring good time.

But all that PLASTIC …it makes my heart shrink like the Grinch.

What if you could capture the fun of the saran wrap ball game but in a smarter, eco-friendly way?

wrapped ball for saran wrap game

But first, in case you've never played the saran wrap ball game, here are the deets:

How do you play the Saran Wrap game?

You can play the saran wrap ball game with one person or with a group.

Saran Wrap Christmas Game for 1

Our family gives the saran wrap ball to one person. They get to open it and they get to keep everything inside.

Giving a saran wrap ball to one person is easy – wrap it and give it to them. Then everyone can watch as they unwrap it and discover all of the goodies inside.

Group Saran Wrap Ball Game Rules

We don't play the Saran Wrap ball game in this way but it can be super fun if you have a large group over for the holidays.

Here's what you'll need to play:

  • Oven mitts or mittens (no fingers)
  • A plastic wrap ball with toys and goodies inside (see below on how to make one)
  • Two di (or dice)

Why oven mitts or mittens?

Nimble fingers can unwrap the ball really fast. I've seen kids find the end of the plastic wrap and then fling the ball away from themselves to unfurl it all rather quickly like my nephew did in the story I shared above.

Wearing oven mitts while trying to unwrap the ball makes it difficult to find the end of the plastic, slowing the game down and making it last longer, adding an extra level of tension and hilarity to the fun.

Man with beard holding saran wrap ball with oven mitts

Someone tried this project and shared this picture on my pin on Pinterest.

Here's how to play the Saran Wrap ball game in a group:

  1. Everyone rolls two di. Whoever rolls the highest numbers, starts unwrapping the ball while wearing the oven mitts or mittens.
  2. While the first person unwraps the ball, the person to their right rolls the dice until they get doubles.
  3. Once they get doubles, they get the ball. Then the process starts again with the person to their right.
  4. You get to keep everything you unwrap from the ball during your turn.

Spice the game up with even more options, like these.

saran wrap gift ball

Or you can have even more fun wrapping it like this one I found on Pinterest! This is not my image. As you can see they added gift wrap, curling ribbon, and packing tape to make the ball even more difficult to open.

What to put inside a Saran Wrap ball?

You can put anything you want in your plastic wrap gift ball. The magic is in the suspense of not knowing what you're gonna get. Imagine which gifts would “wow” the recipient and plant those between the less surprising fillers.

Best gifts to put inside a Saran Wrap ball:

  • cash
  • coins and rolled coins
  • candy and candy bars
  • gift cards
  • lottery tickets
  • gum and mints
  • socks, beanies, and mittens
  • lip balm
  • movie tickets

Be sure to include age-appropriate items and toys for everyone in the group.

You can also include ridiculous (but still useful) items to increase the laughter:

  • box of staples or paperclips
  • cough drops
  • travel toothpaste, deodorant, or body wash
  • padlock or combination lock
  • individual packets of wet naps (like from a ribs restaurant)
  • ketchup and mustard packets
  • tiny bottles of hot sauce
  • Taco Bell hot sauce packets (because they have silly sayings on them)
  • roll of tape
  • postage stamps
  • pain reliever, like a bottle of Motrin
  • can of tuna or Vienna sausages
  • batteries
  • Starbucks Via instant drink packets or Crystal Light packets
  • box of matches
  • dental floss or flossers
  • bungee cord
  • pencil sharpener
  • eraser
  • carabiner clips
  • keychain
  • embroidered fabric patches
  • nail clipper
  • clothespins
  • chip clip

How to make the saran wrap ball game eco-friendly

In high school, I was tasked with taking our trash to the dump. We lived in a rural area without trash pickup so every month, my sister and I would load up our old 66 Ford truck to the top with the family's trash, put a tarp on top, and take it to the dump after school.

The dump was a giant pit in the ground in those days.

A few months ago I went to the dump after we helped my parents renovate their house. The dump was now a giant mountain, creating a deep shadow over the road. Underneath all of that dirt was years and years of trash.

I imagined this dump scenario repeated all over the country, all over the world. And I realized it starts with each choice we make, every day.

I'm not a barefoot granola mom by any stretch. I can't deny the amount of trash we create around holiday celebrations.

typical saran wrap game ball for Christmas

I love the saran wrap ball game and wasting all of that plastic stabbed at my heart.

I spent a lot of time looking into alternatives for plastic wrap for the saran wrap ball game. It had to be possible to have all the fun in a more responsible way.

How to make the saran wrap ball game eco-friendly

I thought:

  • What if the wrapping wasn't disposable?
  • What if it was part of the gift?

This year, I decided to try creating a saran wrap ball with socks. Yes, socks!

sock ball

And it came out so good!

Give socks for Christmas in the most clever way possible: a sock ball.  My son will get 12 pairs of socks and we get to laugh our Santa hats off as he unwraps it all!

Ditch the saran wrap and use these instead:

  • socks
  • tshirts or undershirts
  • scarves
  • blankets
  • leggings
  • tights
  • dishtowels
  • bandanas or handkerchiefs
  • underwear (if you're a real sadist!)

sock ball making supplies

  • Wrap the gifts in these items and secure the end with a safety pin. Imagine trying to open a safety pin while wearing mittens or oven mitts?! Ha!
  • Wrap it up in paper (of course) and give a bundle of true joy this Christmas. No plastic needed!

Who knew the solution to this plastic conundrum was going to be so easy? Even the Grinch's heart would be warmed knowing that every part of this gift is usable.

Watch this video to see a quick how-to:

Got a friend who loves the saran wrap ball game?

Share this post and challenge them to go greener this year. Use the buttons at the very top of this page to share.

Want more ideas for giving money and gift cards?

Check out these posts:

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long yellow graphic: eco-friendly saran wrap christmas game

About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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20 Comments

    1. We cut our Saran wrap each time and start in a different spot. This is more fun for us, because you have to find the end of the saran wrap.

        1. The first year I did one continuous roll of Saran Wrap. It was too easy to unroll…but they loved it. The next two years I cut it and started the roll in different places. It was even better! They had a hard time finding the end. There was a lot more yelling and screaming. They love it!

  1. We played the game this way…if you roll an odd number, the ball goes around the circle to the left as many people as the number on the dice. If you roll an even number, the ball goes that many people to the right. If you roll doubles, you get an extra turn. It worked perfectly. We had so much fun!

  2. I don’t understand how it comes together as a ball! You suggest great ideas for the gifts, but not how to assemble it. How does it end up a ball?

  3. When I made this for our family Christmas get-together, I cut the Saran Wrap into different lengths. This assured that no one person could just grab the end and pull the whole thing apart. It made it harder, because the beginning of one sheet of wrap didn’t start exactly where the other one ended. We played for about 20 minutes. It was a riot! Old and young enjoyed playing!

  4. 1/4 the way through you can stop using saran wrap and use real wrapping paper to change it up and make it like a holiday gift. Do that every 1/4 way through.

  5. I have been doing a Christmas ball for our grandchildren for the last 16 years. I purchased different Christmas fabrics for under a dollar a yard and cut them in about 2″ strips to wrap the gifts. Then I fold them and reuse them each year.

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