Everyone feels differently about the holiday custom of gift giving. My husband and I choose not to exchange gifts because we feel too pressured to find that one perfect thing in a very specific time frame. We like to give gifts throughout the year so there’s less pressure and more, year-round fun. The rest of my immediate family does not subscribe to this idea and that’s okay – it means I still get presents (rarely a bad thing).
I’m torn on gift wrapping though. I love presents (just ask my husband, sister, um…anyone in my family) and I love ripping into some glittery holiday paper but did you know:
- If every U.S. family wrapped three gifts in repurposed materials, the gift wrap saved would cover 45,000 football fields.
- If every family reused two feet of holiday ribbon per year, the ribbon saved could tie a bow around Earth. Source: Stanford University
- Go paperless
- Use Bags
- Recycle materials you have handy (suggestions from GetRichSlowly)
- Newspaper end rolls. If there’s a newspaper or printing company in your area, ask if you can buy an almost-finished roll. These still contain a ton of paper that can be used as-is or customized any way you want. Rubber-stamp it. Flick a loaded paintbrush at it. Let your kids draw holiday pictures on it. Or do the messy-but-fun activity of dipping their li’l hands into water-based acrylic paint and making hand prints on the paper. (And if your recipient is a “CSI” fan? Have them leave only their fingerprints.)
- Secondhand finds. Sometimes I find gift wrap at thrift stores or yard sales. But I’ve also seen rolls of butcher paper or brown at thrift shops; these can be decorated as noted above.
- Grocery bags. Cut open paper ones and use the non-logo sides for wrapping. Let your kids decorate them with bright paint.
- The Sunday funnies. These make great gift wrap year-round. Don’t subscribe? Harvest them at coffeehouses on Mondays. Tip: Discarded wrapping paper of any type can be crumpled up for use as packing material.
- Old maps. Doctors Without Borders sends me several huge maps of the world every year. Maps also end up in the free box at yard sales, and may be given free of charge at visitors’ centers.
- Periodicals. Small gifts can be wrapped in pages from magazines, calendars, catalogs or even comic books. You may luck into these in the “free” bin at yard sales.
- Foreign-language newspapers. Weeklies written in Chinese, Korean and Spanish can be found in my neighborhood. The interesting typefaces could be a hit with someone who knows or is trying to learn those languages.
- Dumpster paper. A whole lot of gift-wrap items will be tossed after Dec. 25. I’ve pulled gift bags, colorful tissue, ribbons, and large pieces of wrapping paper out of the recycle bin. Note: You don’t necessarily have to get down and dirty. I’m more of a dumpster wader than a dumpster diver, myself. A few years ago I found a large, still-shrink-wrapped roll of Christmas paper outside the dumpster. Still slowly making my way through it because of its design — not everyone appreciates the delicacy of Batman holiday wrap.