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Friday, December 19, 2008

Re-Usable Present Wrappings

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
I'm not talking about re-using wrapping paper, although it can be done. Young mothers-to-be used to carefully undo the wrapping on their baby shower gifts so as to reuse the pretty paper as drawer liners in the nursery. Creases could be removed from ribbons by running them around a hot lightbulb, but that won't work with the cool swirled tubes that are now in my lamp fixtures (although a quick pass with a warm iron would still work). I'm also not talking about the advice you'll see in just about every home magazine to "make the wrapping part of the gift." However, that is a good idea, especially if you're sending presents off to somewhere else.

What I'm talking about is starting some kind of tradition within your own home. My in-laws had a couple of brightly-printed Disney garment boxes that would end up under the tree every year. I have them now. They fold down flat for storage along with the rest of the Christmas stuff, and are the perfect size to hold a book or new shirt - no wrapping required. Gift bags, too, get used year after year.

You probably have your own traditional gift wrappers already - the kids' stockings you hang up every year as part of your decor. So now, just expand that idea a little farther. I know Julie, one of my co-writers here, wrote about sewing re-usable fabric gift bags not too long ago. Of course, she might have to tie some good knots into the ribbons closing them up to keep the kids from peeking, but it's a really good idea. If you're not a sewer, you might be able to do the same thing next year with Christmas pillowcases found on the January clearance sale tables. Canning jars are also great re-usable packaging - whether giving home-canned preserves or gifts in a jar. Maybe your recipient will reuse them, or let them know they can always return the empties to you. We often come home to find empty jars, ale bottles, and egg cartons left by our front door.

We have one more option here at our house. Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection of Christmas tins. Some are used year round - the red one holds buttons, a tall popcorn tin holds toys for when friends with young children stop by to visit. During the rest of the year, some of them make crush- and dust-proof storage containers for my lights and Christmas linens; others all nest, one inside the other like Russian dolls, for storage. But at Christmas time, they all end up under the tree - so many that I purposely leave the bottom tier of branches in the box to have enough room (that's Aries' first bicycle, down out of the garage rafters, completing the display). Some will periodically end up on my kitchen counter through the season, holding home-baked goodies until I put together little gifts for the neighbors. But others we use to hold our gifts to each other. Of course, we're adults here, operating (I hope) on the honor system. If you pick up a tin to use, and there's something already in it, it goes back under the tree until Christmas. No peeking!

13 comments:

Matriarchy said...

The tins are a great idea. You can often find them for next to nothing at yard sales. I use them to store chocolate and dried fruit in my pantry. I didn't think of the gifting uses. Thanks!

Belovedgoddess said...

What a great idea, I hadn't put out my Christmas tins this year, thinking I had nowhere to put them. I usually use them to put the lights into for storage so they don't get damaged, though one has sand in it. Why I decided to put sand in it is a mystery, I bought it for a craft project and didn't want to throw it out I suppose the tin was handy at the time.

Threads of Light said...

I've been meaning to do this for years, and have finally got to it! All my gifts have been wrapped/contained in lined drawstring gift bags. I love the idea of re-usable gift wrappings, thank you for the extra ideas, I'll be using some of those as well for sure.

Susan said...

I reuse wrapping every year and never have to purchase anything. I always save ribbons and gift bags and reuse them. My mom and I exchanged the same gift bag back and forth for about 10 years before it finally was too tattered to work anymore. I always save plain, nicer shopping bags that are made of paper or thicker plastic and use those for wrapping gifts with a big ribbon. Also, if I can get ahold of free plain white or brown paper, I will wrap in that and just draw a personal doodle or picture on top of the gift to decorate. My sister in law said that last year my nieces refused to let her throw away their "personalized" wrapping paper for weeks after Christmas because they liked it so much.
I also sew/quilt and I save my prettier selvages or other skinny pieces that get cut off and most people throw away and use them as ribbon instead of "real" ribbon. This works especially well if I am sewing a present and have a scrap of the same fabric used in the present to use as the ribbon on the wrapping!
I love your tin idea. I haven't tried that yet. Thanks for sharing!

Katy said...

I've stolen an idea from the Japanese (who have all the really fabulous ideas it seems), and started wrapping things in fabric squares and second hand scarves from charity shops.

Pictures and a link to all the cool techniques here

Melynda said...

great post! Love the bike, I put toys under the tree also, especially the crocheted doll my Mother made.

Melynda

Georgie said...

I love Christmas tins!

If you have small children, especially if they go to daycare, playgroup or school, you end up with a lot of paintings. All lovely and special, but one can only keep so many. I like to use some as wrapping for family members' presents, and then if the family member wishes they can put the child's painting up on their fridge or wall.

eatclosetohome said...

We somehow have a plethora of pillow cases, and that's what most of our gifts were wrapped in this year, tied around with a reusable ribbon.

And I LOVE the tins!

frogtailrae said...

I like it! Especially the no peeking! It's understood... if it's "heavy" just put it back ;-)

Karen said...

great ideas here, sadge!

lizzylanefarm said...

Great post. This hits home as a great tradition in our family.

Ours are 5-6 boxes from a department store that went out of business 15+ years ago.

Each year when the box is reused the name on the box from the year before gets crossed off and the new name written below it. It's fun to see who has had it.

When the gift is open this year, we will write next to the name what was in the box and the year.

Silly fun but there are bets each year as to who will get it...

Matriarchy said...

I *love* that idea, Lizzielanefarm!

Sadge said...

My parents had a "joke" box of candy that went the rounds for years among their group of friends. It was a well-known brand of chocolates, and the box didn't change for years. But they'd gone out to a horse pasture and filled each of the little paper chocolate cups with "meadow muffins". The box would get gift-wrapped and anonymously tucked under someone's tree or into a pile of birthday presents. I was even drafted one year, by someone that still must remain nameless, to hide it under our tree addressed to my dad, "From Santa". I think there was actually some competition as to who could best sneak that box to the next recipient.