Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday Ten on Wednesday: That's a wrap!

We use wrapping paper. Next Tuesday, our living room floor will be a virtual sea of red and green paper. But this tiny little drop in the bucket is moving slowly toward reducing the amount of paper we use during the holidays. Next year I'd like to reduce the amount of wrapping paper we use even more than I have this year, and the year after that and the year after that.....Give it four or five more years and I might even use up that giant Costco roll I bought long long ago, and we'll be paper-free. Here are some of the ways we've tried to avoid using wrapping paper, at least using as much wrapping paper, this year.

Tuesday Ten: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-- Almost Ten Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

1. Brown bag it.
Decorate a paper bag with stamps, stickers, markers. Tie with a pretty ribbon, and voila! instant festive package.

2. Cloth gift bags.
Sew cloth gift bags to reuse year after year. You can find Christmas fabrics at super-clearance prices after the holidays. (Instructions for making a simple cloth bag here.) I've made a few bags, but not many. I have fabric. I have a sewing machine. Maybe this will be the year that I finally use all of the fabric to make cloth gift bags in time for Christmas 2008.

3. Gift boxes.
Pretty boxes, the ones on sale at craft and paper stores, make "wrapping" easy. Just open the lid, pop in the gift, replace the lid and you're finished. If you use them for Christmas at home, you can use them every year.

4. Use the packing paper.
Yesterday, for a change of pace from red-and-green crafts, two fine young gents decorated birthday paper for their littlest brother using the paper in which his Christmas gift had been shipped. Double paper savings: Not only did we save wrapping paper, no new paper was harmed in the making of this craft.

If your children love to create big art on large paper, and you have no idea what to do with all of their creations, save the projects for birthday wrapping!

5. Make a gift basket.
We made lovely gift baskets for tutors. The baskets were pretty, we've got a few extra baskets stashed in the basement anyway, and the "wrapping" becomes a lovely part of the gift.

6. Reuse gift bags and paper.

7. Paint a box.
A fine young gent will find a Tonka dump truck under the tree. I was excited about the glow we'll see in his eyes, not so much about trying to wrap the darn thing. Wouldn't you know that at exactly the time I was pondering this dilemma, the UPS guy made his almost-daily stop and delivered a box just the same size as a Tonka dump truck. The fine young gents painted the box in bright red and green, and the dump truck fit perfectly. Another craft project in which no new boxes were harmed.

The old box, however.....we'll have to save it to reuse. Loving husband and I idly pondered whether it's better to reuse a recyclable item if the item is altered in such a way that it is no longer recyclable. We came to the conclusion that it depends on the cost (monetary and environmental) of recycling the item compared to the cost of the new materials, wrapping paper or the like, replaced by the box. We were in the middle of making gingerbread for houses, so we didn't pursue the matter, but it was an interesting discussion nonetheless.

8. Wrap it in pretty fabric.
If you've got fabric around anyway and your giftee sews or quilts, the wrapping becomes part of the gift. In second grade, the elder lovely lady's friends went through a brief period in which they wrapped birthday gifts in fabric instead of wrapping paper. Many of the fabrics made it into their Brownie projects later in the year.

9. Don't wrap it.
Stick a bow on it, tie it with some red yarn, or wind a ribbon around the gift and call it good.


Irie said...

Great ideas!! This creative wrapping is much more fun...

Sara said...

All good ideas! And you have to factor in the art supplies saved when the kids do a project with recyclables ...