We didn’t wrap presents growing up – and looking back I’m glad for it. My parents would hate me saying this publicly but they would often tape the Fred Meyers shopping bag shut and write a name on it with a sharpie. With six kids to shop/wrap for, I can’t imagine how laborious and expensive it might have been. They were wise. Sure that Christmas morning reveal wasn’t “Pinterest worthy” (are we still saying that?), but it made more sense for their lives, sanity, and wallet. I don’t want to totally decimate the wrapping paper industry right now or make ANYONE feel bad for their wrapping paper love, fetish, or addiction. But it’s increasingly not making sense to me either – both for sustainability reasons and cost. It’s very single use, often dramatically ripped open and thrown away, rarely recyclable, and for what? Minutes of viewing pleasure under the tree by children before their little monster hands can destroy it? And don’t get me started on the cost of non-bulk ribbon – sometimes there is only enough ribbon on a roll for one present – ONE and it’s like $7. NO. No. No. So here is what I’m doing this year.
Hack #1 – Newspaper As Wrapping Paper
We get the Sunday Times and while a lot of the news headlines or photos aren’t something you want on your kid’s presents, there are a lot of pages that can be used and I think it looks cool. So we’ve been collecting it all fall, and hoarding it to take down to the mountain house. Not only is it recyclable but it does add some nice texture and pattern underneath the tree. It costs nothing (if you are already getting it).
Hack #2 – Bulk Brown Craft Paper
If you aren’t hoarding newspaper, then bulk craft paper is highly recyclable and super affordable. You’ve seen it for years in shoots for Martha Stewart, with pretty sprigs and bakers twine. Will the kids freak out about it? Nope. But they are more concerned with what’s inside, plus they’ll get used to it. IF you want something fancier, these are pretty cute, too. Elliot LOVES to help me wrap and I know that she won’t be as excited about the neutral, so I found green recyclable bulk paper. But also if you are bored and feeling crafty, plain craft paper is perfect for decorating (just don’t put anything on it that prevents it from being recyclable). Need some inspiration? Here you go:
On the far right is VERY cute handmade wrapping paper using potato stamps via a site called Coffee & Vanilla. I know my kids would love using food to create something really cool. Then in the middle, Molly from Almost Makes Perfect made some super cute options with different-sized paint brushes which I’m sure a lot of us have just laying around the house. Lastly, on the far right, Rachel from DIY in PDX decided that using ready-made stamps was the way to go which you can obviously use for many years. All awesome and pretty doable.
DIY queen, Brittni Mehlhoff of Paper and Stitch, went the paint route but instead of carving a potato or buying stamps, she just found items around her house to make really fun patterns.
These next two ideas are slightly more involved but could be really fun with kids or if you are a crafter. That bear idea via Chic Pursuit is pretty darn sweet and I know Birdie would have so much fun making it. Then look how awesome that recyclable star straw is from A Splash of Something. So many great ideas with a quick search.
Hack #3 – Bulk Recyclable and Reusable Gift Bags
Want to save even more time and never buy wrapping paper again? Go for reusable gift bags and for extra credit make sure that they are recyclable. Nothing new here to report, but I just want to remind myself and others that it’s ok to not individually wrap presents and to just throw them in a bag. Heck, you could use the newspaper as the tissue paper.
I bought these bags because they are cute, simple, and most importantly recyclable if they get a little too messed up to use for another year.
But these paper bags are also super cute and I love these little drawstring guys because they can be used as produce bags, or used to store shoes, purses, whatever you want. AND they come in multiple sizes!
Jess found these and I thought they were a sweet idea. It’s a customizable “Santa Sack” that you can just reuse every year like a stocking (I don’t know why we didn’t do this but now that the kids are 6 and 8 – close to the age of truth, it might be too late. Pretty cute.
Hack #4 -Bulk Quality Ribbon, Bakers Twine, And String
I LOVE this ribbon. I’m a ribbon hoarder from my Martha Stewart days. I have boxes of beautiful ribbons and after Christmas, I salvage what I can and keep them for the next year. I usually buy bulk ribbon (double-sided satin or grosgrain) at the flower market but you can get them online so easily these days. Quality ribbon like this becomes slightly more of an investment because the cheaper stuff doesn’t save well, plus buying this in bulk is still way more affordable than buying a small roll in a store. I collect white, red, black, plaids, and stripes in grosgrain or double-sided satin in a variety of widths then snatch them and throw them back into your ribbon box once undone. Just make sure you get at least 25 yards so it can amply wrap multiple presents. Bakers twine is an affordable sweet option (add a candy cane or a sprig of evergreen/eucalyptus) and heck, even yarn can look really cute.
Again, no judgment if you guys have a whole wrapping station room stocked and ready to go – don’t throw anything out, but if you/we want to reduce our pre and post-consumer waste this feels like a pretty easy way to do it while saving time, money, making our life easier and still looking like you care. Our kids might notice it at first, but a quick conversation about mother earth should solve that, plus obviously they are more focused on the likely non-sustainable “stuff” inside:) Listen, we aren’t going to be perfect and the holidays are a huge time of pre and post-consumer waste, so if there are obvious ways to conserve and make a better choice, then I figured it was worth talking about. End of rant 🙂 xx