Your holiday gift giving becomes more budget friendly if you simply scale back on wrapping paper. The savings can be really significant if you have a lot of recipients on your giving list — and it may feel better than having to cut back on what you spend per present.
Reuse Gift Wrap
For starters, get in the habit of trying to save the wrapping on any gift you receive.
Don’t tear off the paper, but look for the adhesive and carefully remove it first before unwrapping the rest of the gift.
Of course, it’s even easier to save boxes and gift bags. And you might be able to do this with bows as well if you simply put new adhesive on the back.
If you prefer to use fresh wrapping paper on gifts, wait for a clearance sale the day after Christmas.
That’s usually when gift wrap prices hit rock bottom, even for designs that don’t have holiday themes on them. Set a reminder on your calendar to shop just for wrapping paper on this day so you don’t forget.
The possibilities in plain paper are vast, depending on what you might already have lying around the house: printer paper, lined notebook paper, construction paper, drawing paper, craft paper, tissue paper, and even brown paper used for parcels.
If you don’t like the look of plain paper, you can always draw on it yourself — or if you have kids, ask them if they would like to draw decorations on the paper for use as gift wrapping.
In the event that you don’t have any extra paper lying around at home, you might find any of the aforementioned varieties of paper at the store for less money than what wrapping paper typically costs. Depending on which kind you choose, you’ll have the added benefit of also being able to use the paper for other purposes besides gift wrap.
Newspaper or Comics
Before you rush into wrapping gifts in newspaper, remember that newsprint might rub off on your fingers and sometimes other surfaces.
If you proceed, try to use a section of the paper with pleasant or entertaining content instead of news that might be depressing. Good options include horoscopes, crossword puzzles, comics, along with pages from the travel and entertainment sections.
Magazine or Calendar Pages
Fortunately, the ink used to print magazines and calendars doesn’t bleed, and the images are typically higher quality. The photos might even pass for commercially bought wrapping paper, except that it’s usually thicker and often glossier.
Aluminum foil can make a very stylish statement as wrapping paper. Another benefit: you might not need to use any tape to hold it in place, which will save you even more money. Plus you can also use foil to create bows and accents to use on top of other presents.
Plain brown or white grocery bags make pretty sturdy wrapping paper — and if you want to dress them up, you can decorate them with stamps, stickers, fabric accents, photos, your own drawings (if you’re artistic) or anything else that strikes your fancy.
The texture of wax paper can make for a rather unusual gift wrap, and here’s how to make it you can make it even more interesting: Put leaves, flowers or other items between two sheets of wax paper and then iron them to fuse them together.
Free Maps or Pamphlets
Don’t tear maps out of the atlas at the library. Instead, get free maps from tourist areas and rest stops. They are typically one very large sheet of paper that’s folded into a brochure, making for interesting gift wrap. It might look like store-bought wrapping paper if you place it well.
Another variation on this: tourist brochures with lots of bold photos are also one giant sheet folded up. Opt for the ones that have the most images on them, and you’re on your way.
Use this for anyone on your gift list who loves food or is a chef by trade. Anything that has photos or illustrations on it might look better than plain text menus, although nice paper quality can make for good wrapping as well.
It you have wallpaper left over from a household project, you can use it for colorful wrapping paper that’s more durable than the typical gift wrap.
An alternative might be to ask a home décor store whether you might have the previous year’s wallpaper sample books when the new patterns come in. Of course, this might mean you’ll have to come back another time to pick them up.
Earmark this one for people on your gift list who like to laugh: Use a box from some high-ticket item and put your more modest gift inside for a laugh. For instance, put a gift card inside an iPhone box.
You might also find some product boxes have a kitch element to them that your recipient might appreciate, especially if you dress it up with a bow.
Paper isn’t the only way to wrap presents – you can put them in containers that have lids or closures. As long as there isn’t a lot of unused empty space for the gift to jangle around in, you could use anything from clean tubs to mason jars or even storage boxes.
Here’s another option that isn’t paper: fabric. This can be as simple as remainder fragments left over after sewing or even from garments that no longer fit. Instead of securing it with tape, you might be able to tie knots at either end of the gift.
Or if you sew or happen to have fabric glue, try your hand at creating gift bags — as long as you remember to make them sturdy enough.
Or you might make the fabric itself become a second gift if you buy a towel, tablecloth, cloth napkin or blanket to wrap around the first gift. This is a nice tactic for housewarming gifts along with bridal and baby showers.
You might also use fabric to create bows on the gifts — or come up with other alternatives to bows by using things like pine cones, flowers or even glitter.
Skip the Wrapping Paper Altogether
Most of the biggest savings of gift wrapping comes from some form of recycling or repurposing — except for one thing. Just forego wrapping gifts in the first place and tell your recipients that you are specifically choosing not to wrap items in order to spare the environment and save money.
You might be pleasantly surprised at how well people will respond to that, since they are probably just grateful you’re giving them a gift in the first place.
While it’s true that not using wrapping will limit your ability to surprise recipients, it will force you to be a bit more creative about how you give the gifts to each of your recipients.
Readers, how are you planning to wrap the gifts you’re giving this year?
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