In just two days time, households across the country and around the world will be in a gift opening Christmas morning frenzy. Some people will patiently pass gifts around and have family members open them one at a time with everyone else watching, while other families have the tradition of all digging in at once. Either way, the wrapping materials quickly pile up.
Why not make an extra effort to save and re-use the wrapping materials this year? This doesn’t mean you have to methodically remove gift wrap in order to fold and save it like my Grandma always did. (Although you certainly could if you want to. After all, my Grandma is an expert saver and enjoys a great deal of financial freedom in her old age, so she may have been on to something…)
But even if you like to tear, bunch, and crumple when you open gifts, you can still save and re-use almost all of the materials. Here’s what’s worked for me (and yes, I am a tearer and crumpler):
- Save boxes. Once all the unwrapping is completed, wander around and collect all the boxes. Unfold them, pile them into a neat stack, and tie them together with a piece of ribbon or yarn. Pack this stack away with your decorations. Next year you’ll have a great stash of boxes, so when the cashier asks “Do you need a gift box?” you can say, “No, thanks!”
- Save bows. I re-use bows many, many times. They look great for years. Just pull the little torn pieces of paper off the sticky part when it comes time to wrap next year and attach bows with a curl of tape.
- Rescue ribbons from the trash pile. You can iron (on the lowest heat setting) pieces of cloth ribbon and they are as good as new. I actually don’t pack these away for Christmas, since I have uses for ribbon all year long.
- Keep tissue paper. Stack and fold tissue paper. When you use tissue paper in gift bags, it doesn’t matter if it is all crumpled up anyway. You’ll save trees and money by using tissue paper over and over. Like cloth ribbons, tissue paper can even be carefully ironed with a low setting if you really need a pristine sheet.
- Salvage any paper you can. If there was a huge gift, you can probably save most of the wrapping paper even if it was torn and crumpled. Just lay it flat and fold it carefully. You can use it for many smaller gifts next year.
- Consider other ways to re-use the paper. Maybe you or someone you know makes scrapbooks and could use some of the paper. Perhaps you have kids who love to craft. They could use the paper in collages, or even draw and color on the plain white back. You could also make bookmarks or little sheets of scrap notepaper.
- Recycle. If you must throw paper or boxes away, make sure you put them into a recycling container or take them to a recycling center if you don’t have curbside recycling in your community.
If you store the salvaged wrapping materials with your Christmas decorations, they will stay out of the way all year and re-emerge just as you are ready to wrap next December. You’ll save money too, as you won’t have to purchase much from year to year.
Do you have other ideas for re-using wrapping materials? Please share your ideas in the comments section below so we (and mother earth) can all benefit.