Other Ways to Wrap Presents: Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

Wrapping presents is a tradition that adds some excitement and mystery to holidays and birthdays.

This year, have a thrifty but fun holiday by saving some money on the paper you use to wrap gifts. While you're at it, acknowledge the positive ways you're reducing waste and possibly building habits that are healthy for the planet.

Make someone laugh at your gift - in a good way

Use the funnies section in the Sunday paper. The paper is the perfect size, shape and material to wrap any type of present in. Think of how hard it is to rip the paper against the grain. Put the gift on the paper in that direction. If it isn't big enough, use page two.

You can even choose whether you want to use color comics or black and white. Mix it up and use color comics for kids and black and white for adults. This is an environmentally friendly way to wrap your gifts, and the garbage the gift-getter creates when ripping into what you gave them is recyclable.

Use plastic bags from the grocery store

If you use newspaper, keep in mind that newspaper ink will come off on your fingers and the gift. If the gift is plush or some kind of fabric, be sure to put it in protective plastic first. One way to do this is to trim the handles off of a grocery bag and neatly tape it around the item.

Or, you can just use the plastic bag as the gift wrap bag. Double- or triple-up the bags, then trim off the handles. Cinch the bags together at the top and tie with ribbon or twine. Mix and match colors for a fun effect.

Another option is to braid together the handles of the bags to make a bow or ribbon. This can be placed separately as a decorative piece on top of the present, or used to tie on a nametag.

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Paper grocery bags are useful too

Not only can you use the sturdy paper of a paper grocery bag in the place of wrapping paper, you can use it as a gift-wrapping bag. If you don't want the recipient to be distracted by the logo of the grocery store, try turning the bag inside-out or decorating it with a pretty picture.

Another way to decorate the bag in an environmentally-friendly way is to cut out a stencil of a cute shape and glue or tape it to the paper. Paper and paper stay together very easily, so you can use minimal glue as well. Try drawing the shape of a necktie for Father's day, or a flower for the green thumb in your life, or a holiday shape like a menorah or Santa hat.

If you don't want to add to the bag, then take something away! Cut out a pretty scalloped pattern along the lip, or make a fun zig-zag edge. Fold it over and fasten it down with tape or a ribbon.

Don't wrap it, hide it!

If your friends or family are coming over, set up a fun, interactive scavenger hunt that ends in their present. Instead of using a lot of paper to wrap the whole thing, make a fun name tag that will draw their attention when they get to the prize, or add some dramatic flair by putting it directly in a spotlight.

Or, perhaps your mom has a "spot" where she sits every time she comes over. Write a little note telling her to look under her chair, or give her a riddle to figure out when she sits down.

Tell your friends and family that you wanted to put together something fun instead of wrapping presents, and they'll understand and play along. Who knows, you may even get some sleep the night before the holiday.

Use fabric from clothing or home d├ęcor

We all have a few shirts or pillow cases that we definitely do not need anymore. If the fabric is clean and in good condition, cut it into the shape you need to wrap a present. Put a fun twist on a bagged present by putting cloth around a colorful plastic bag, or tie a little knot on the top to make a fun package.

You may have a table cloth that does not get used as much as it "should," and this holiday might be the time to use that lovely fabric. Just be sure to use sharp scissors when you trim it.

If you don't want to wrap the whole present in cloth, braid together strips of fabric, or use one long strip of fabric for a chic farm-inspired look.


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