by Tammy Taylor
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On a Christmas morning long, long ago as I sat in our living-room floor with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands, my heart was full as I listened to the excited chatter of our children as they opened their gifts. But soon after that gift-opening frenzy I stared with dismay at the mountains of trash that was left behind. As I loaded up multiple mammoth trash bags with all that trash I thought there had to be a better way.
I mean that paper was purchased (of course shrink-wrapped in dreaded plastic) and used to decorate that gift under the tree for such a short time, then in less that a minute that beautiful paper was turned into landfill-based trash. There just had to be a less trashy way to adorn my gifts without contributing to an already-bulging landfill problem.
So I sat out to change the way I wrap my gifts. Although I’ve written about it before it’s been awhile so I thought it would be helpful to see what works well for us.
Now many more talented seamstresses would just sew very simple draw-string fabric bags with inexpensive fabrics for their gifts. There’s a problem with me using this as a solution though, I’m the polar opposite of a talented seamstress and the extent of my sewing prowess is to sew a button back onto a blouse. (ok really calling it sewing prowess maaaay be a stretch but c’mon, give it to me will ya?)
Luckily even for me there are many options for reusable environmentally-friendly gift wrapping. You don’t have to know how to sew, you can * buy reusable bags – the cost will still be less than buying wrapping paper year after year.
But several months ago at an estate sale I picked up a handful of these little hand-sewn gift bags for a song. Some day I hope to be able to sew my own gift bags using the denim from RancherMan’s worn jeans (yes, I love EVERYTHING denim) but in the meantime these cute bags will fit the bill quite nicely.
UPDATE: I’ve learned to sew the cutest little denim baskets to hold many of our gifts.
If you just don’t have time to sew denim baskets, I often have them for sale in my Online Store. I’d be honored if you’d swing by for a little look-see!
There are other options as well. We like to give gift baskets filled with homemade goodness such as homemade Pumpkin Granola in reusable glass containers. We always give special thought to the “basket” portion of the gift and try to package it all in something that’s also useful and can be made part of the gift.
One year we made homemade pasta sauce & spaghetti and placed it all in stainless-steel spaghetti strainers. Sometimes we’ll package our goods in an appropriate-themed container such as a casserole dish or like last year, these fun colorful chunky shelf storage baskets. Even the filler was repurposed & I previously wrote about presenting low-waste gift baskets.
Wrapping smaller gifts is quick & easy using these colorful bandanas. I simply fold the bandana around the gift and tie it with string or festive ribbon. And bandannas are great for wrapping those odd-shaped gifts plus they’re so versatile and inexpensive it’s easy to have many different colors to adorn the gifts under your tree for a fun splash of holiday color.
For larger gifts we have these Santa Sacks that are used for our grandbabies’ gifts. A quick tie of the cord, attach a fun to/from label and these gifts are ready to go! We also have mammoth-sized stockings that we use in much the same way.
For chunky gifts I have some Christmas-print fabrics that I purchased very inexpensively after Christmas several years ago. I spread the fabric out, put the gift in the middle, gather up the fabric on the sides and tie the four corners – there’s no ribbon required most of the time and it looks great under the tree.
For really large gifts I have a Christmas-themed fleece-backed tablecloth. It’s not often that I need wrapping this large so if it’s not needed for a large gift I use it to cover the storage box that our Christmas decorations are stored in.
When we bring that storage box down from the attic I’ll often empty the box of its contents, wrap it in this tablecloth and set it beside our Christmas tree. It gives me another surface to stack gifts on and keeps the Christmas package theme.
And of course there’s the old standby of wrappings from Christmases of days gone by. C’mon now, sing it with me: “Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!” Since we always have a blazing fire going on Christmas morning, a few of the smaller gifts that RancherMan & I place in each others stockings are wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with white cotton string.
That “wrapping paper” comes from the unprinted middle layers of our cattle cube feed bags and the white cotton string comes from these bags as well, so no additional product had to be produced nor purchased. Sometimes I’ll cut the paper with the fun scissors that cuts pretty shapes onto the edges. They look great and after the gift is opened the paper and string can be burned right then, right there.
All in all my reusable gift wrapping still gives me the pretty and festive look under the tree that I crave. But my heart is happy since unlike that Christmas so long ago there’s no trash being hauled to the curb. After the gifts are opened my family is happy to return all the wrappings to me. I just fold them & put them away to be used year after year.
What about you? What are your favorite ways to reduce the mountains of trash on Christmas morn?
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