13 - 2008

Gift-wrap free holidays

Ground zero for U.S. consumerism (and its corollary, waste) is less than two weeks away — Christmas Day. Unless you’re a super early-bird, odds are good that you’re going to be wrapping up some presents in the next days.

Traditional wrapping paper looks festive under the tree. The problem is, it costs money (even though the paper is pretty, I do cringe at paying for something that will quickly become trash) — and wrapping paper cannot always be recycled, because of the materials of which it is made.

Now is a great time to see if you can wrap up your gifts without any waste. Are you in?

A few weeks ago, Erin of Creation Halt pointed out this official No Gift Wrap Challenge.

Yesterday, I tried to give some new incentives here with posts on super cheap-n-easy gift bags and on taking the plastic out of shipping. (Speaking of the latter, I’ve noticed that several retailers, including, have swapped plain old crumpled brown paper for those inflatable plastic padding, at least for nonbreakable items. Yeehaw!)

How else can you skip the gift wrap? Let us count the ways …

  1. Go elegant, as the challenge page proposes, with fancy Japanese furoshiki wrappings customized for the gift inside.
  2. Re-use gift bags and wrapping paper, or go for my cereal bag trick above.
  3. Visit your local fabric store for plain or fancy fabrics, or holiday prints, that you will be able to re-use again and again. Before you go, check the paper or online for coupons — many stores offer a coupon for 40% or 50% off one item, and one length of fabric usually counts as an item.  For smaller gifts, fold the fabric instead of cutting it to preserve its purpose.
  4. Purchase rolls of fabric ribbons that can be used and re-used.
  5. Knit a mini-stocking to use as a gift card or cash presenter.
  6. Hit the thrift store and think creatively. Use vintage tins to present a CD, a scarf, or jewelry in addition to cookies. Wrap a gift inside an inexpensive sweater the gift-giver can use. Buy a reusable basket and put kitchenware or food gifts inside.
  7. Use kitchen foil and decorate with a bright ribbon.
  8. Collect festive holiday shopping bags from those who use them and cut them into gift wrap or use as a gift bag.
  9. Cut and sew old sheets into gift bags. BlogHer published all the details, plus a great tip to avoid the irritating process of inserting a drawstring: Simply sew ribbons into the seam of the bag, near the top, and wrap the ribbon around. Get a great deal on ribbons with a ribbon grab bag — I found one recently at Hobby Lobby that cost about $2 for 20 two-yard lengths of ribbon.
  10. Scavenge for pieces of butcher paper or craft paper to use — either alone or adorned with drawings, paintings or potato-stamp motifs — as gift wrap.
  11. Use the old classic — newspaper comics.

And if you are still looking for affordable and/or low-waste items to put INSIDE those gift packages, this list will get the mental lightbulb burning — and several of the ideas are doable at the last minute.

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