Saturday, November 26, 2011

All Wrapped Up! - How to Recycle, Upcycle, and Re-Use Holiday Gift Wrap!

Things like wrapping paper just amaze me. While I love the brightly wrapped packages gleaming under the tree, or a pile of birthday gifts beckoning from the corner, it galls me to spend $5 on a tube of paper that essentially gets thrown away. It's like throwing away money. Toilet paper, Kleenex and paper towels are similar in that we buy them just to throw them out, but usually they're used for stuff gross enough I wouldn't want to bother washing and reusing. I use old hole-y socks, T-shirts and underpants (cut open or marked "RAG" with a Sharpie so there's no confusion in the clean laundry pile!) for stuff I'm willing to use again.

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Here are some ideas for alternatives to store-bought gift-wrap, like using newspaper or fabric, or even ironing and reusing old wrapping paper! For Z's family we often use plain brown paper (like re-used paper bags) and have her color and put stickers on the package to jazz it up. Her cousins especially love having the puffy foam stickers I get at the Dollar Store on their gifts. I've started doing something similar for the grandparents using plain blank cards and having her make her own thank-you and birthday cards. (I don't bother with her aunties and uncles, since they have a plethora of their own children's artwork lying around already.)

It's a Wrap!
In addition to replacing wrapping paper with something useful, you can also find some great ideas for re-using wrapping paper.

If you do a lot of shipping, you can re-use wrapping paper crumpled up as packing material!

Another use for used paper (regardless of wrinkliness) is you can hole-punch (or use shaped craft-punches) to make confetti. You can use confetti in envelopes for birthday cards, or as table scatter for a party. Little Z just loves squirting glue onto paper and tossing confetti on it. I bought a 3-hole punch that can do 20 pages at once and has a special one-hand push to make it easier. But if you punch too many layers at once the holes tend to stick together, which kind of defeats the purpose. But I punch holes in colored scraps of paper, junk mail, art projects not worth keeping, etc. I cannot punch confetti fast enough for her little glue-and-sprinkles projects!

If you have a wood fireplace you can burn the paper, but some of the inks may release harmful fumes. On the other hand, we often got colored flames from the chemical reactions, which was pretty exciting. You decide.

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Cards, tags, boxes and bows:
Your child's paintings and drawings can also be repurposed to make gift tags and Xmas/birthday/thank-you cards. You can scan or photograph them first to save them for posterity. Or just use the ones you don't feel are worth hanging onto for the next 50 years. A few brushstrokes of paint on a paper at preschool may not be a great work of art, or even worth hanging on the fridge, but cut it down and the sworls of paint and the texture of the brush become quite a lovely card for Nana. Although I usually don't bother with gift tags. I usually just us a Sharpie to write directly on the paper.

The adults in my family mostly give each other gifts in gift bags - then we save them and use them again the next year! We still do paper for the kidlets though, since they like ripping into their gifts! One of my nephews hates unwrapping, so we use bags for him too.

I also save the nicer bows (not those cheap 50/$1 ones) and re-use them. Same with cute gift boxes, and even the department store ones. You never know when you're going to buy your brother-in-law a sweater one year! Having a collapsed box from a previous year not only saved me some money, but also a trip to the store!
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I mostly don't bother with ribbon as a) it's a pain in the a$$ to work with, b) it's a pain in the a$$ to untie while opening presents, and c) my cats chew it off the packages and puke it up all over the house. They also try to eat the bows, but I just set those aside and put them on at the last minute (or put them and the packages into the bags we'll take to the family event and stick them on as I'm placing them under the tree or whatever.)

I save greeting cards and cut pictures and words off of them and we use them for crafts like collages and such (which can be re-made into new cards!) Same with pictures from wrapping paper remnants or used wrapping paper. Even the fancy holiday stamps with postmarks can be fun to cut off the mailing envelopes and use in art projects!

Do you have any other tips or ideas? Please leave a comment!

Added 11/27/11 - 
Start off with Re-Usable packaging!
Kelly from EasyLunchBoxes posted about using her re-usable lunchboxes as the gift packaging! Genius!
I've also seen trail mix, hot cocoa, cookie mix, or other baking mixes given in glass jars, so why not find a cute bento box or Tupperware-style container, or even a craft supplies box to house gifts! Avoid the waste altogether!

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! My mom has saved some giftwrap since my first daughter was born 19 years ago (!)and brings it out for every family bday. Huge laughs every time she uses it again. (It was very good quality!) Here's a post I did last year about giving sweet treats in containers that you can reuse for lunch :)


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