Super Sustainable Giftwrapping Ideas
You braced the crowds at the local mall. You put up with overloaded parking lots and rude drivers. You bought all your gifts and maxed out your credit cards. The tree, either real, faux or alternative, is up and all is cozy. It is now down to getting those pesky gifts ready for the big day.
With the ominous warning by scientists that our planet is warming up faster than anticipated and with the limited results at the Paris environmental summit this past week I find that sustainability is very much on my mind. I signed up for a zero waste program and I am looking for further ways to reduce waste and one of them is gift wrapping. Great timing!
Now, we have all bought rolls and rolls of wrapping paper over the course of our lifetime. I know I have. Most of them were not great, except the rolls I purchased through my son’s elementary school fundraiser. Those were so good, I used them for years. But all that paper has ended up in the garbage minutes after the gift was unwrapped. Each year so many trees are cut down to make wrapping paper. Paper that cannot be recycled (nor can the bows and ribbons either for that matter!) since it is treated with glitter, wax, etc.
But gifts need to be wrapped otherwise there is no surprise. I get that. For the Japanese gift wrapping is an art and the act of unwrapping the gift is actually a traditional act steeped in rituals. In my next article I will talk about the Japanese way of gift wrap. It deserves its own spot.
I have always found gift wrapping such a waste of money, paper and time. Mind you, I did always love to get a beautifully wrapped gift. (I know, a bit hypocritical I guess…. I am guilty!) If you want a good quality paper you have to hand out a few shekels for sure. The cheaper dollar-store stuff rips in no time and that can ruin the entire package. Next you have to spend time wrapping the gift. This can be either a satisfying or frustrating exercise in my experience. If it turns out great, nice. But if I can’t get the darn paper around my gift in a crisp way I get frustrated. It takes time to do it right and I would always wait till the very last minute…when it became a rush. Is it obvious that I am not the best giftwrapper?!
And then all those trees which are cut down to make the paper. My heart aches. One thing is for sure: our stewardship of the earth is not where it should be. Most of us know that by now. So how can we make sure our giftwrapping is fun, inexpensive and safe for the earth? Ok, we will have to put a bit more time in to find the supplies we need and the actual wrapping may take longer as well. Here are some great ways to make giftwrapping fun and creative again. Lesson for me: plan better!
Other than store bought wrapping paper what can be used to wrap a gift? It is actually surprising what you can come up with if you put your mind to it.
Good old kraft paper. Most of us have a roll around the house I suspect.
Printing or butcher paper
Old newspapers. Use the comic section for added colour or just plain black and white print for a toned down look.
Used grocery store flyers or paper shopping bags
Music sheets with or without a score
Vintage roadmaps. Hah, calling roadmaps vintage is kind of funny. It isn’t that long ago when we had to rely on these marvels. These days with smartphones they have become just about obsolete.
Scraps of fabric
Old pillow casings. Stencil a design on them with a theme to tailor to the holiday.
Tea towels or bath towels
Reusable cleaning and microfibre cloths.
Some of these we have in our craft or sewing rooms, in our under-the-sink cabinets or just plain waiting to be thrown out. I like the idea of tea towels. There are great designs in tea towels these days. They can be so colourful. You just wrap your gift in one. The same can be done with an old blanket. (Mind you, if you have an old blanket waiting to be tossed, send it to me. I can use it for something else entirely. Particularly if the blanket has an interesting weave or design!)
Wrap them in kraft paper and add some embellishments like pompoms or twine with a pine needle and greenery.
I like mason jars for a number of reasons. Super reusable! Mason jars can be used for a myriad of things such as storage for food or small items, as well as food preparation. Who would have thought of using mason jars as gift wrap? A splendid idea and I will use them a lot more just for gift wrapping purposes. Not only will they contain the gift(s), they can also be wrapped creatively and re-used by the recipient. After all, who would reject a mason jar? If you are a guy you can put your screws and nails in them! On a side note here: I only use peanut butter which comes in a glass jar. I save these jars when I am done with the peanut butter, clean them and paint the top. By now I have a collection of even-sized storage jars for my art and sewing items.
Mason Jar With Ingredients For Brownies
No gift is properly wrapped without embellishments. Not that I ever thought so in the past….I would just wrap the gift in paper and I would be done. If using any of the alternatives mentioned above, it is important to add some glitz and glitter to the package to make it look festive. Here are some interesting items that can be used to do just that:
1. Old custom jewelry. Bracelets can be wrapped around a tied knot. Earrings or broaches can be glued on to the wrap by hot glue gun or double-sided tape. Old custom jewelry can be found at thrift stores. If you are gifting a piece of jewelry, why not make a part of the wrapping!
2. Twine or rope for a rustic look
3. Greenery such as myrtle, pine tree branches or pine needles. If the real stuff is not around, use the faux one. But, rather than throwing it out after the parcels have been gifted, make sure you or the recipient saves the faux ones for next year. No shame in reusing items over and over again. People have done it time and time again, before we became a throw-away society.
4. Leather cords (available from your local craft store) or shoelaces. Shoelaces can now be found in multiple colours and lengths. They can be used after the gifting is done!
5. Old Xmas cards. Do you save your cards from previous years? Are they beginning to take up a lot of room in a drawer or box? Use the illustration as an embellishment. You can always save the sentiment part. Better yet, scan the sentiment and save it in a computer file. Stick the card on the box wrapped in kraft paper and voila, a gorgeous giftwrap.
6. Fabric scraps made it on this list as well. Fabric scraps can be folded into trees, made into florets or stars and glued on to the package. Many more things can be found in craft areas: buttons, colourful ribbons, knitting yarn, tassels, to name a few. Once you put your creative cap on, ideas will come to mind.
7. Food items: cinnamon sticks, licorice sticks (you can get those in red, a Xmas colour), pasta (such as bow pasta), seaweed, orange slices, candy cane in green or red. Any of these can be cut or arranged in the form of a star or tree and glued onto the package. Take a look at what one lady accomplishes with orange slices. Kathryn of www.goingzerowaste.com gives instructions how to get orange slices ready for giftware purposes. Here is her recipe.
“Dried Oranges: … Thinly slice the oranges and sandwich them between a cloth tea towel. Then I set them on a metal drying rack for 24 hours. Bake them on the drying rack for 2-3 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Leftover dried oranges can be boiled with cinnamon sticks to make a stove top potpourri.”
8. Office items - Think of the little round stickers which reinforce perforated sheets of paper in a binder. Or, coloured tape, cut into triangles and make a garland out of them.
My Own Feeble Attempt At Alternative Gift Wrapping
Even though I don’t celebrate Xmas, I have invited my son, his wife and her family for dinner that day. I have also decided to give them each a token of friendship. They are such lovely people with their own gift giving traditions from South Korea. So the other day I decided to wrap one of the gifts with stuff I already had. Kraft paper which I tend to have in rolls for mail purposes as well as pattern making. Beads, ribbon, felt squares, toothpicks, trinkets. I had plenty of things to work with. This year I will not be contributing to the 25% waste increase during this time of the year! I will also be using tea towels and mason jars for sure. Here is the result. It’s ok, no…?!
In conclusion, there are plenty of options to do away with store bought wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and glitter which cannot be recycled or reused. Lets be mindful and find new ways to get things done.
I would love to know what you do for gift wrapping. Send me a photo and in a future article I will show what you come up with.
Again, many thanks for the visit. I hope you enjoyed it. All the best to you and your loved ones.