For most people, holiday gift wrapping consists of hours spent locked in a room where the kids can’t find you, cutting paper and trying to finesse it into concealing the many shapes and sizes of presents that will be given during the holiday season. Then there’s taping, curling ribbons, and writing out gift tags to contend with. In short, it can be a time consuming and rather frustrating process, not at all in the fun and festive spirit that people should feel when the winter holidays roll around. But there are alternatives that can alleviate the hassles associated with traditional gift wrapping. And if you’re looking for some fun and creative new ways to decorate and disguise your gifts this year, here are a few options that are sure to get approval from recipients.
Decorative gift bags – As you probably know from years past, wrapping holiday gifts can be a real pain, especially when you’re dealing with odd shapes and sizes that don’t come in their own boxes. It is for this reason that gift bags are a great boon. Let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to wind some tissue paper around any item and drop it in a gift bag than it is to try to figure out just how you can fold the paper around a ball, a remote, or some other object and still make it look neat and professional. And there are so many options out there in the way of decorative gift bags that there’s almost no reason to wrap anymore. Plus, you can always get plain bags and decorate them yourself if you want something a little different or custom-made. With some stamps and ribbons at your disposal you can quickly get an assembly line going to create beautiful and unique gift bags for the holiday season.
Decorative boxes – If you don’t necessarily like the idea of wrapping paper, not only because of the time it takes to wrap your stack of gifts, but because of the waste that occurs when the holidays are over, then you might consider the possibility of using decorative cardboard boxes instead. They come in many sizes, colors, and patterns, and if you get a variety you should be able to find one that will work for any gift, large or small. The bonus is that they’re basically already wrapped thanks to the designs on the outside. All you really have to do is swath your gifts in tissue paper, pop them in the box, add some ribbon, and viola – you’re done! In addition to being easy, it’s also a fairly eco-friendly idea since your gift recipients are likely to reuse decorative boxes (so long as you don’t permanently affix their name on the box with marker or stickers – think about adding detachable tags tied on with ribbon instead).
Reusable gift bags – If you want to go a little greener this year with your gift bags, why not opt for reusable options? Many people will reuse manufactured gift bags, especially if they’re sturdy, so you’re already ahead of the game when you eschew wrapping paper and opt for gift bags instead. But you might also want to consider bags with a limitless potential for reuse. What we’re talking about here is cloth gift bags. Often you can find them available online in a variety of themed textiles (holidays included). They come in a wide variety of sizes and prints and some vendors even offer the option for custom sizing. Equipped with beautiful ribbon ties at the top, they make gift wrapping simple, stylish, and eco-friendly. Of course, you can get even more green by making them yourself, especially if you happen to be handy with a sewing machine. You can purchase organic fabric and stain it in holiday colors with non-toxic dye before cutting it in rectangles, sewing it up like pillow cases, and adding a loop for a drawstring at the top. This is a lot of work, though, especially since you probably won’t be getting the bags back (unless your friends use them to wrap your gifts next year). So you might just want to let someone else do the work for you.
Natural options – More and more people are getting on board with sustainable options for nearly every aspect of their lives, and gift wrapping need be no exception. While you can certainly head to the store for shiny paper and ribbons like your parents did when you were young, these days we know that such paper products cannot be recycled. So if you’re looking to do a little less harm to the environment when it comes to wrapping gifts for the holidays, you might want to look into wrappings that are natural, sustainable, or recycled themselves. For example, some people save paper from gifts they receive and reuse it, while others purchase gift bags, cardboard gift boxes, and wrapping paper that is 100% PCW (post-consumer waste) and patterned with non-toxic, soy-based ink. Or if you want to go rustic chic you could use recyclable butcher paper and twine to wrap gifts, and then embellish them with natural elements you’ve collected, such as pine cones, boughs, and berries. You could even make the gift extra special by adding natural charms made of quarts, obsidian, or even stones with small fossils in them or humanely collected sand dollars, just for example – this is especially fun for kids, who love small trinkets.
Kid-created products – While you’ll almost certainly have your kids help with the creation of holiday cards, ornaments, and thank you notes, you might not realize that you can also get them to personalize the gift wrap you use. You can do a lot of the prep work, buying rolls of blank paper and stacks of unadorned gift bags and boxes, not to mention an assortment of paint, stencils, stamps, glitter, glue, ribbons, buttons, and whatever else takes your fancy. From there it’s time for the kids to get crafty. Over the course of an afternoon they can populate whole rolls of paper or scads of gift bags and cardboard boxes with handprints, scribbling, stamps, and all manner of designs. If you want your gifts to come in truly personalized packaging this year, get the whole family in on some holiday fun by decorating your own wrappings.