The Presentation of Presents: Fun and Thrifty Gift Wrap

While I’m a huge proponent of experience gifts (massage gift certificates, theater tickets, museum memberships), even I give stuff for the holidays. And when I do, I wrap it. But I haven’t paid for giftwrap in at least 5 or 6 years.

Sometimes, I re-use wrapping paper. This was something we always did growing up; it just makes sense. The invention of gift bags a while back made that even easier. I also receive lovely free wrapping paper from the World Wildlife Federation every year because I’ve donated to them in the past.

But lately I’ve tried to find ways to make the gift-wrap part of the gift, or to find ways to re-use things that weren’t originally intended as gift-wrap. Here are my suggestions for gift-wrap that is either free, or a gift in itself:

1. Pillow cases and cloth napkins. For household members, I’ll wrap things in our own pillowcases or cloth napkins (which are a very un-Christmasy lilac color because they came from a “free” box on the sidewalk) and tie a real ribbon around them. I’ve also bought pillowcases for friends and used them to wrap another item–there are lots of super-cute flannel pillowcases for sale during the holidays and the recipients usually get a kick out of them.

Flannel pillow cases & cloth ribbon

2. Reusable bags. I love my compact reusable bag that folds into a little carrying pouch, because I always have it in my purse for unexpected trips to the grocery store/drugstore/Pike Place Market. I bought a dozen in different colors one year and used those (again, tied off with ribbon) to wrap books or other items. Two gifts in one!

3. Lunch bags. No, not the brown paper sacks. There are lots of cool-looking reusable lunch totes for kids and grown-ups–a pattern to fit every personality. And they are just perfect for tucking an extra little gift inside–maybe a paperback, or a gift card to a gourmet store for a treat your recipient can take to work or school in their new bag.

4. Pretty tissue boxes. Small items can fit in those cube-size tissue boxes (and you can put the items in gift-tissue for an added “authentic” look). I used this one to wrap a toy truck for my son; the other bonus is it was easy for a 3-year-old to “open” the gift.

5. Your kids’ art. Maybe I’m less sentimental than most moms but I don’t really want to keep and display every single piece of art my child has created. So some of them get re-used to wrap gifts (mostly for the grandparents). But you can also get your kids (or yourself) to draw, stamp, or otherwise decorate the plain brown “craft” paper that some packages come with. We had quite an overstock of this at one point during the summer and I wish I had thought of this idea before I gave it all away to someone who needed it to wrap items when moving house. (If the recipient isn’t moved to keep the art, it can be recycled.)

6. Scarves. Scarves make great gifts, and also great gift-wrap! You can probably find some for cheap at your local thrift store.

What ideas do you have for creative gift-wrap?

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About raincitykitty

Feeling disconnected seems like part of the modern condition. I want to establish stronger connections--with my family, friends, nature, the food I eat, the things I use everyday. I'm a mom, wife, daughter, professional editor, volunteer tutor, voracious reader and consumer of chocolate, but most of all, I'm a part of this earth and want to live responsibly on it. It's a continuing journey and I hope you'll join me on it.
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