It's always seemed such a waste to me to go through the cost and effort of buying multiple rolls of wrapping paper and giving each gift you've got to give it's own new paper packaging. After all, most times that paper that was $3.00 a roll is used up by season's end and all of the receivers of your gifts likely tossed the wrapping paper into the trash as soon as they discovered what was so decoratively hidden. To handle this problem, I propose a few solutions. First of all, use eco-friendly and recycle-able wrapping papers and bags from the very beginning (of which I'll provide a few ideas). But then, encourage others to recycle the papers once they've unwrapped their gifts - and do the same for any gifts you may receive. As for embellishments, ribbons, and other decorative options, try and use recycled cards and papers from Christmases past to spruce up your gifts. Whether it be gift tags made from last year's Christmas cards or long strips of recycled paper tied in decorative bows, don't worrying yourself with purchasing new gift decorations when there are reusable options and innovative ways to recycle past holiday gift wrapping.
My favorite option is wrapping with newspaper. Though a wrapping method notoriously associated with the forgetful gifter with limited funds, I think that newspaper offers a relatively neutral backdrop against which recycled decorating elements can shine. I have tried stamping newspaper in bright red and green stamps - an idea that my fiance laughed at but I find to be pretty attractive once wrapped around a gift! Simply add some string or a recycled gift tag, and you've created a one-of-a-kind alternative to store-bought gift wrap.
|Instead of a traditional stamp pad, I used acrylic paints. They were much brighter and |
bolder. Plus, I'd coat the stamp once and make multiple pressings from that, so some
prints were heavier than others.
I also save up paper that I would otherwise recycle, whether from magazines, printer paper, or scraps of craft paper, to run through a paper shredder. The shreds of these recycled paper products stand in wonderfully for tissue paper. Instead of nestling bagged gifts on a bed of tissue paper, simply spread some of the shredded paper beneath, on all sides, and atop the gift in a bag for eco-friendly gifting. And this shredded paper isn't too messy so it can easily be reused again and again - simply bring along a bag or box to store it in until next year's holiday season.
By saving gift wrap and bags from years past, I also really save on cost and environmental degradation. Instead of throwing out the paper wrapping up the larger items I receive from my loved ones, I save it for next year to wrap up my own gifts. The same goes for gift bags - there is no need to toss them once you've uncovered the gift inside. Most of them are sturdy and reliable enough to keep on giving for years and years. In fact, amongst my family, there are gift bags I recognize from my youth that have managed to package gifts given from parent to child or sibling to sibling for years - and they're still going strong. Some might find this cheap or thrifty, and I don't deny that it is. But I also don't see the point in rushing out to the store to buy something new when you could just as easily give new life to old gift wrapping, rather than having it end up in a landfill. Friendly to the earth and your wallet - and I doubt that many people would even recognize the reused paper as that of last year's gifts. Why not recycle what you've got?
As I've already suggested, old Christmas cards and wrapping papers of Christmases past make for great gift tag materials. The festive and joyous cards often contain wonderful holiday greetings, artwork and photographs perfect for the holidays, and are easily enough cut down to different shapes and sizes to fit your purpose. All you need as scissors, a hole punch or tape for affixing the tags to gifts, and a creative eye. Here are a few examples for ideas and inspiration!
Finally, you can't forget a good card to accompany your gift. Look through the December issue of any magazines you may receive, sort through those wrapping paper scraps, and keep your eye on last year's Christmas cards - these are all great materials for decorating some holiday cards! One of my favorite things to do to get into the holiday spirit is to get a head start on my holiday cards. By sorting through all the Christmas images and materials, I'm instantly converted into holiday mode. And I get to reuse some beautiful elements from past Christmases while making unique and seasonal works of art that, being handmade, are thoroughly appreciated by others. Here are a few of my favorites that I've made.
If you do have a gift that is over-sized or particularly difficult to hide with the remnants of last year's gift wrapping, don't guilt yourself about making a few new wrapping purchases. I simply encourage you to reuse and recycle your gift wrapping as much as you can in as many ways as you can. After all, the colors, images, and greetings of the holidays are timeless and so can be reused in a multitude of ways without ever seeming tired or dated. So this Christmas, I encourage you to think outside the box when you're wrapping your gifts and save whatever you can once the gifts have been opened - wrapping paper and gift bags are great materials for next year's Christmas. Merry wrapping!