Ten or fifteen years ago (maybe more), gift bags came on the scene. Although they are a great help for the gift giver, it can sometimes seem a bit anti-climatic for the gift receiver. There is nothing to rip, tear, pull, or cut. Just a bag and a bit of tissue. Maybe a gift tag, bow, or card are attached or added, but the work of opening a gift doesn’t exist.
What is nice about gift bags is that they can easily be reused, whereas gift wrap usually cannot. What the gift opener loses in the experience can be a gift for Mother Earth. Think of the trash bag(s) full of wadded up tissue paper, gift wrap, gift boxes, and gift tags that families often have after the Christmas present opening has occurred.
There are some simple trade outs and practices we can use to help save money and save the environment at the same time. None of these will ruin the gift-receiving experience at all.
- Select recyclable wrapping paper and recycle any you receive. According to www.treehugger.com, wrapping paper with glitter, foil, or other artificial textures is not recyclable nor is that which is laminated or plastic.
- Substitute craft paper in place of wrapping paper for gift wrapping. Not only will this switch be less expensive and take less storage space (you won’t have to have a different roll for each type of gift, i.e. Christmas, birthday, wedding, etc.), but you will also know the paper is recyclable. Craft paper also allows for skipping gift tags. Just use your best penmanship and write a message to the recipient on the craft paper. Your children could even draw on the paper as an added treat for the recipient.
- Switch out one-use bows for a reusable ribbon. Wrap the ribbon around the package once or twice and tie it with a bow in the front.
- Instead of ribbon use jute twine. Jute twine is a less expensive alternative and is usually biodegradable. So if it does find its way into the big old post-holiday trash bag, it will eventually fade into the earth.
- Embellish packages with natural or reusable elements. A Christmas package adorned with holly, cedar, or small pinecones tucked behind ribbon or jute makes for a beautiful presentation! Another idea is to add a reusable item to the top of the package, such as a keyring, Christmas ornament, or hairclip. Something small, inexpensive, and with a future use will look nice but also be an added gift for the recipient.
- Wrap presents in fabric. Depending on the fabric and what you normally pay for wrapping paper, this may be a wash expense-wise. If the gift receiver sews or crafts, the fabric will be used. Some folks complain since magic tape does not always hold the fabric in place, but you could use painter’s tape instead or strategically add adhesive Velcro to secure the fabric to itself.
- Make reusable gift bags out of fabric. Click here for directions on making cloth bags that can be used for all sorts of purposes after the gift has been removed.
- If giving multiple gifts to a person, wrap one gift within another gift, so that less packaging is required. For example, if you are giving a chef in your life a Dutch oven and a tea towel, wrap the Dutch oven in the tea towel bringing all 4 corners to the top, and hold it in place by tying it with a ribbon. It will be attractive and practical! A bottle of wine given in a reusable, monogrammed wine tote saves on wrapping altogether.
- Reuse any wrapping paper we receive by wrapping a smaller gift in the paper and reusing the bow.
- Use fewer pieces of tape when wrapping. Make a game of it. Can you wrap a present using only three pieces of tape? One for each end plus one on the seam.
With time, people will realize the benefits of gift bags (paper or cloth) and craft paper wrapping, and they will become the preferred presentation of gifts.
Of course, if someone wants to present me a gift, I will take it in a gift bag, unwrapped box, or any other way they see fit to present it!