It’s that time of year again, the holiday season, which means wrapping gifts is high on the agenda. The only problem is that the usual way of wrapping gifts is extremely wasteful; witness the huge mounds of wrapping paper left over after the gift exchange, hardly used, that will now be thrown away. We can do better than that with some homemade gift wrap ideas.
Consider this: Materials exist around the house that can be utilized for making homemade gift wrap which will surpass just about any type of store bought varieties. Just look around you, at any kind of paper or flexible flat surface lying around the house.
Any of these materials can become a real hit as wrapping paper. The reason is twofold:
- The fact the person giving the gift took the time to encase it with a little creativity and personal touch shows how much the person receiving the gift means to them;
- Using and reusing is a great way to be more eco-friendly and a special benefit that comes with the extra effort. At the very least, you are using the wrapping twice before disposing of it. You could also use the same wrapping multiple times.
Here are a few ideas for making homemade gift wrap. They are simple suggestions that can be adapted in whichever way you choose:
Newspaper: Ok, even if your home is kept in tip-top shape and you spend most of your time getting information from the internet, newspaper is still one of the easiest materials to find. Chances are the coffee table in the den still has the Sunday paper strewn across it or your neighbor has a daily they were getting ready to toss in the recycling bin.
Wherever you pick it up, newspaper is especially resourceful for wrapping and if necessary padding breakables. When covering a box the black and white also juxtaposes nicely with a colorful ribbon tied around it. Try decorating the wrap with glitter or your favorite artistic media.
Don’t stop there. Does the gift recipient have a special interest that can be keyed to a newspaper section–or can the gift itself be related to a section? Maybe the recipient is a jokester or loves comics, and would therefore get double pleasure out of the comic pages. Maybe he’s a sports nut–or you are giving a sports related gift such as a baseball glove–in which case an interesting article from the sports section would be appropriate. In any case, it’s a great way to show the recipient that you thought enough about him or her to choose a uniquely suited newspaper wrap to be enjoyed.
Old posters: Maybe you know a movie buff and have some extra movie posters lying around. Or maybe it’s a fan of a certain musical band, or just about anything under the sun that could be shown on a poster. If there is a match between the poster and the gift or the recipient, or even if the poster just looks beautiful, you have great material for wrapping a gift. Even if the poster is outdated the colors are enough to create a spectacular presentation for each gift–or maybe the recipient is into vintage stuff anyway! If none of this fits your situation, then perhaps you can simply use the white backing of a poster as the exterior base for something else.
Used greeting/holiday cards: Many of us collect cards from previous occasions like birthdays, achievements and holidays. After the passage of time they eventually pile up and can become burdensome sitting in storage containers underneath the bed. Grab a scissors and start cutting them up using that colorful stock to make coverings for this year’s gifts.
Previously used gift bags: this is one of my personal favorites. Many gift bags are sturdy and can be used over and over. Why throw away something so good? When you get one, keep it in the attic for the next time a gift exchange comes around. Many bags are simply colorful or generic, so they can be used at any time of year. If they’re not, then save them for the next holiday season or whenever is appropriate. If you have other family members who do the same thing, you could almost eliminate gift wrap entirely as bags continue to be reused all around. That’s a very good thing for the trees that go into making gift wrap!
Reusing gift bags may not be the most personalized approach, but it can mean a lot for someone who cares about the environment. That happens to mean several members of my family, thankfully.
Old pictures: There are some pictures you’d never want to damage but chances are every family has an assortment of others that aren’t as sentimental. Make a shell wrap for the gift with newsprint and then cover the exterior with pictures of the person receiving the present. They may be thrilled to see old pictures of themselves in scenes they may have forgotten.
Hand-me-down containers: Maybe you have a decorative box someone gave you but you no longer want. It could be any kind of object that can contain or conceal a gift. If it’s decorative or fancy, the recipient may enjoy the container as an extra present in itself.
No wrapping at all: Who says you need gift wrap anyway? Maybe you got something recently that is crazy enough by itself not to need any wrapping at all. This comes up a lot in office holiday parties and “secret santa” games–you end up getting some zany object for which you have absolutely no use, but is somehow attention-grabbing. If you don’t like the thing, you can take it to your local charity–but why not keep it for a while and use it it for someone else? If the sequined nutcracker from the office party just can’t find a place in your home, give it as an extra light-hearted gift to someone else who may like it!
Alternatively, maybe you just want to give a gift without any wrapping, just because it’s good for the environment. What better reason could there be? That is certainly fine by me, and I would never appreciate a gift less if someone chose this route for that reason. On the contrary, my gratitude would be the greater because of our shared vision in sparing the environment when we can.
The bottom line here is to get creative about reusing things to lessen the strain on the environment. It’s not enough to simply recycle all that paper left behind; the best type of recycling is never to use something in the first place. There are lots of things you can reuse around the home, or simply just go without and use no gift wrap at all. Your loved ones will still appreciate your gift, and so will the planet.
This post was contributed, in part, by Jakob Barry of Networx.com.