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Friday, December 3, 2010

Reusable Present Wrappings

I started a new job today, and just remembered it's my turn to write here. My brain is a bit overloaded at the moment, so I hope you don't mind if I just re-post one of mine from a couple of years ago - the information is still timely and useful:

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!

12 comments:

Kimberly said...

Fun ideas! I remember when I was a girl my Dad gave placed a big jar of chocolate candy kisses under the tree for my Mom. Buried deep inside was a set of sapphire earrings. Great wrapping job there!

Anonymous said...

it christmas paper really that terrible? especially if you recycle it at the end? surely part of the joy of christmas for children is tearing open the wrapping on their presents...

Pink Feather Paradise said...

I love the idea of boxes and tins ... it like having a second gift ... I have so many boxes and tins storing bits and bobs...lol

I bought some pre-loved books from amazon for my niece who is studying costume design and I am crocheting and felting a case big enough to house the books and perhaps a laptop... the books will be placed in the case and I shall wrap the gift in a meter of fabric and tie with a ribbon... all items will be usable as she'll be able to used the fabric and ribbon in her studies...

Simply Green said...

I love reusing boxes and bags, I have a box in my closet right now full of gift bags and tissue paper. I flatten out the tissue paper so that it's easy to sort out. I also would love to start acquiring some tin and metal boxes for the heavier things, so thank you for that idea.

Ilene said...

All good ideas.

To carry it a little further, you can make boxes. One year I made nesting hat boxes for a friend that I noticed would buy one every time she saw it at a garage sale. I bought tubes of pre-pasted wallpaper and embellishments like silk flowers and crocheted doilies or cutwork handkerchiefs whenever I saw them at garage sales and used them as the covering materials. I made the embellishments removeable and used wallpapers that were washable so they end up making a very durable box. She keeps her hat boxes on a shelf in her bathroom as I picked colors that would match.

Glad you took the time to post this, the tins are a great idea too! I got one with cardinals on a snowy branch that I refuse to reuse because I'm afraid it won't come back! Heh

Hazel said...

Re: the evils or not of wrapping paper-

My children are all under 11 and a couple of years ago I put their presents from us (DH and I) in large Christmas fabric bags I'd bought in the previous years sale. It was partly greeness and partly lack of time to do any more wrapping, but ever since the children ask if they'll have the presents in the bags again, so it must appeal to them! Or maybe it means I'm not telling them to open the paper carefully or save the ribbons?!

My inlaws had never saved wrapping paper, and thought I was mad, but they now pass ribbons back to me and do at least recycle the paper now. (That's not possible with all wrapping paper, especially that funny plastic/foil stuff). MIL even has a joke present bag (she thinks it's hilarious!) that goes back and forth between us during the year. I'm just so glad it's not going in the bin I'm more than happy to humour her!

Incidentally, sticky tape can make wrapping paper hard to recycle. In the UK Sellotape is biodegradable, but other brands are probably not. I wrap where possible with ribbon and no tape.

I've also started using furoshiki which is fun (and quick!)

Significantly Simple said...

I love the idea of using tins - I had never thought of that! Thank you for adding some variety under our tree. :)

louisa @ The Really Good Life said...

Our family has always reused gift bags and envelopes from cards - within the family and close friends, we all know to write on the envelope/gift cards in pencil so they can be erased and used again. I very much like the tin idea too.

I don't actually celebrate Christmas but for my friend's birthday later this month, I'm going to make her a reusable shopping bag - it'll hold her other gifts and as well as being a gift itself that can be used all year - and will be upcycling some old fabric too. Simple, green, frugal!

Zephyr Hill said...

When we went to Africa in the 1980's, we had to take pretty much everything with us. I knew we wouldn't be able to get wrapping paper or even Sunday comics, so I bought a bunch of inexpensive, brightly-colored fabric remnants and took them along. I tied the packagaes with lengths of yarn (remember that stuff?) It worked just great, and of course they could be used over and over.

Sandra said...

We have re-used various tins for several years now at our home, also saving non-Christmas designs for use as wrapping birthday presents throughout the year. Our favorite wrapping technique though is to take plain gift boxes ( shirt boxes ) whenever we receive them and have the kids and now the grandkids decorate them. It can be as simple as having someone color a scene with crayons or decorating with glitter and sequins. We then make sure that the "artist" has their name and year added to the box. These mean a lot to the extended family as well when they are the lucky one to get the decorated box from an out-of-town family member. Remember,this doesn't need to be done by children only, especially if you happen to be crafty!

Kristina Strain said...

Those are all terrific ideas! One idea I've employed successfully in the past is to save the brown paper wrappings from glass or custom framing orders, and use that for wrapping paper. The sheets are usually huge and relatively crease-free.

Kristina Strain
http://www.growandmake.com

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