Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Wrapping Paper Solution: a few ideas on sustainable and creative gift wrap

As though it weren't enough to be running hither and yon through crowded shopping malls searching for the perfect present, Christmas gifts produce yet another complication: wrapping them. Sometimes this is the most stressful part for me because when I go to do it, I have no paper in which to wrap them! So instead of merely keeping wrapping paper stocked in the house, (something I have no problem with; you should buy a roll that suits your fancy when you see it for a good price, regardless of the season) I like to keep objects that help turn common items into wrapping paper. For example, a couple year ago I invested in a small stamp alphabet, a couple ink pads in metallic hues, and a stamp with a feather design that I liked. Using that small arsenal I was able to create the wrapping ensemble above with the use of the one roll of paper I had left from the year prior, an old map, and some kraft paper. Brown paper bags can be turned inside-out and gussied up with stamps and ribbon. Read on for even more wrapping ideas after the jump!

Kraft paper: as before mentioned, maybe the most crucial in ones pursuit of cheap and recycled wrapping. You can buy a large roll of this for relatively cheap or use brown paper bags from the grocery store. What's great is this is a blank canvas: you can make it look as down-home or as glitzy as you like!
newspaper wrapping using circled letters to
spell out a message.
Newspaper and magazines: Sometimes you can combine the wrapping and card into one with these. Circle letters or words to piece together a holiday message for the recipient.
Handmade cardboard theme boxes: Last year I bought my sister a travel set of makeup brushes she had been yearning for and to keep things on theme I built a tiny cardboard suitcase to wrap them in. I cut up an old cardboard box and hot glued it together. Stamps and some old felt helped it come together.
Old clothing: I have personally shrunk at least three of Sean's sweaters this winter and am aware of how hard it is to just throw out an old favorite, even when the sleeves are a few inches short of your wrists. I find it makes it a lot easier to say goodbye when you know your old shirt is being recycled for a good cause, say, wrapping your brother-in-law's new chess set. Just cut it into a flat sheet and use as you would paper, finishing with your favorite ribbon to hold it all together. You could even sew it into a small sack and cinch the top. Plus, have you ever seen a present wrapped in a sweater and tied up with a bow? adorable.
Maps: perhaps my favorite. Go through those old National Geographic magazines and dig out the maps, or download them online and print them. No matter where you get them, you can find great maps for free or at least cheap. These can help give sentimental value to the gift as well.
My sister's themed travel wrapping

Ways to church up plain wrapping:
yarn: I prefer this to ribbon 9 times out of ten. It gives things a craftier, simplistic feel but looks super cute.
stamps: before mentioned. The stamp alphabet can help you by-pass the whole tag thing and print it straight on your packaging while adding to the design.
fresh flowers or plants: tie some pine trimmings into the bow on your present or harvest some old twigs from the woods. You can also pick up water picks at craft stores and use them to hydrate a fresh bouquet that sits atop your gift.

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