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Alternatives to Using Wrapping Paper

by Lou Anne DaRin

One thing that always bothered me during the holiday season is the waste in many areas. One of those areas is wrapping paper. At the large family gathering that we would have most years (not this year), gifts would be exchanged and then wrapping paper would be flying around the room and gathered up into big garbage bags and tossed away. That always bothered me, so a few years ago I decided to do something about it and I came up with some alternatives to using wrapping paper.

My adult children who live out of the area, love the Wegmans reusable shopping bags. Apparently they are of a much better quality than bags they can get at their local grocery stores (leave it to Wegmans!). So I’ve started putting their gifts in a Wegmans bag and I tie the top up with a big red ribbon. It looks very festive and I haven’t used a stitch of wrapping paper.

Several years ago during one of our Yankee gift exchanges I acquired decorative nesting holiday boxes. They are beautiful, sparkly, sturdy boxes of a variety of sizes. For years I used them as a decoration in my home, piled in a corner or stuck here and there for holiday color. When I started trying to cut down on using wrapping paper I looked at those boxes and asked myself, “Why am I not using those in place of a box I need to wrap?” The boxes themselves are colorful and festive and only need a ribbon (reusable) to hold them closed. I now give gifts in those boxes and my family knows I want the boxes back to reuse again next year.

Lastly, and this idea came from my son being lazy one year when he was a teenager. He grabbed a handful of my Christmas cloth napkins and draped them over his gifts for each of the family members securing them with a rubber band. Typical teenage laziness, but an idea was hatched in my head from watching him. I thought why not make some reusable bags with a drawstring out of holiday material, so I got out my sewing machine and that’s what I did. Each year I add a few more to my collection and I’m finally to the point where I have enough to not need to use any paper wrappings. I even take it a step further and create name tags out of especially pretty Christmas cards from the year before. I have laminated those and they slide on the drawstrings. After all, you give gifts to the same people each year so reusing those name tags makes sense.

If you can use any of these ideas to cut down on some holiday waste at your house, please do.

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