Gift-wrap ideas for the holidays

The best gift wrap is... another present!The best gift wrap of all, for the holiday season is.. none.

Now, that’s not Scrooge talking. The point is, many tons of wrapping paper are manufactured, then trashed every year after just a few days or hours of use. Think of the trees cut down, the chemical dyes flowing into streams, the transportation costs of all that paper, which is headed for the landfill before the brunch casserole is even heated up.

Instead, why not give an extra gift and save the earth one tree at a time by incorporating the “wrapping” with the gift? That’s PRE-cycling: not creating waste by opting out of using it!

Try these pre-cycling ideas:

Wrap kitchen gear gifts in pretty dishtowels, jewelry in a bright scarf, books in a backpack.

For a gardener, tuck a new pair of gardening gloves in a pretty flowerpot or vase. Use a strand of real ivy tied around the pot as your ribbon.

Make it once, use it forever: Sew up some fabric into gift bags, using Velcro or drawstrings to keep the contents from prying eyes. A new family tradition! Use remnants (check your local resale shop to make your gift truly impact-free), holiday-themed fabric, or even that family-history-rich bedspread from when your son was 7! Or make personalized tote bags as gift or wrapping: That way, the recipient will be saving a tree all year when she takes it shopping.

Save hours wrapping and prolong children’s Christmas morning delight: Rather than wrapping their Santa gifts at all, hide the presents, using twine or ribbon to create a follow-me-to-your-present treasure hunt.

Another way to avoid the one-time-only excess of wrapping paper is to snuggle gifts into re-usable containers. Check your local thrift, resale or consignment shop for baskets, painted wooden boxes, even crystal candy dishes for that precious gift.

Try it, Yule like it!

If, in spite of your best efforts, some holiday wrapping paper does end up in your living room? Save it for friends who scrapbook or artists who collage or decoupage. Don’t personally know an artist? Call a local gallery or art school; even elementary schools can use them for art projects.  At least let gently-used holiday wrap live another life, rather than be buried as unwanted trash.

And after the holidays, think of your local not-for-profit thrift shop. They will be delighted to recycle wrapping peanuts, tissue, shipping boxes and shopping bags. Your post-holiday excess can save even more of our planet’s resources. (Don’t forget, local consignment and resale shops are great places to pass on ill-conceived gifts you’ve received. Hate it? Someone else will LOVE it!)

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