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As much as I adore giving a gift that perfectly matches the relationship between me and the receiver, I have to admit that I hate wrapping it.
If I use pretty paper, then I am paying for trash to fill the landfills, all for the sake of giving a surprise. (Not to mention that I need several different types- birthday wrap for boys, girls, men, and women because you can't give a gift to a man wrapped in little girl's paper; baby shower gift wrap; wedding shower gift wrap; Christmas gift wrap wait- did I miss one? Maybe this is why so many schools sell gift wrap. You need so many types!)
If I use gift bags, which I do love, my anxiety rises when I see the price tags. If I go to a dollar store, often the bags aren't quite large enough. If I go elsewhere to buy a bad that is large enough to fit, YIKES!
I mean- have you really noticed the prices of a gift bag? Some items just can't be wrapped with paper, making a gift bag the best option. But geez! That much money for something that has a good chance of being trashed immediately?
Then, my mind races as I watch the receiver take the gifts out. Will they save it? If they throw it away, does it look tacky if I grab it to take back and re-use? If they rip or bend any part of the bag while taking the gift out, then it can't be reused without looking cheap. And all of the trash! ARGH!
Celebrating a special occassion should not leave me feeling like The Lorax is looking over my shoulder to remind me that I should take care of the planet.
I'm trying, Mother Nature!
So this year, I have put together a list of eco-friendly ways you can wrap gifts, no matter what holiday or special occassion it is!
These wrapping ideas all use items that can have a practical use after unpacking the gift, adding to the quality of the gift and keeping your thoughtful gesture in their minds every time they reuse that item throughout the year.
And, as a bonus, the pictures show accompanying items to pair with these eco-friendly gift bags to complete the present. (Gift ideas that are eco-friendly? Cha-ching!)
Is there an outdoor lover on your list? Or maybe a child who is involved in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? Or maybe someone who lives in a place where storms necessitate that sleeping bags are a good thing to keep on hand?
Take whatever gift you were going to give and put it inside a sleeping bag. The sleeping bag is a gift, along with whatever small item you decide to stuff inside. Plus, it makes for more excitement finding more surprises.
From books for avid readers, to binocculars and flashlights, to fun games to play if there's no electricity, sleeping bags make a great eco-friendly way to wrap a gift.
Insulated Freezer Bags
I used to walk by those big “keep 'em cold” bags in stores like Sam's Club and feel sorry for people who raced against the clock to get their ice cream home before it melted. But I have since discovered that they make fabulous coolers on day trips, so I snatch them up!
Take a freezer bag and fill it up with items for someone who enjoys tailgating, cooking on the grill, or taking road trips. Fill it up with items for their favorite team, ingredients for the perfect spice rub, or organizational items that keep everything within reach in the car.
Whether you find the perfect pillowcase in a thrift store that goes with the theme of your gift, or you sew one (they are remarkably fast and easy to make), pillow cases can be used by kids in their playroom for oh, so many creative things. Not to mention, a fun pillowcase can brighten up any sick-day when you are trapped on the couch surrounded by tissues.
Simply use the pillowcase the same as you would a traditional gift bag. Place tissue paper inside, tie the top with a cable tie, bread tie, or string, and leave some of the tissue paper sticking out of the top.
Just because you aren't in school, it doesn't mean you can't use a backpack. From doubling in as diaper bags for new parents, to carrying items in theme parks, to making it easy to keep things at your side on the soccer field, backpacks make it so much easier to carry what you need at all times.
Whether you are giving a gift to a child or an adult, stuffing it full of surprises in fun colors can make it feel like a never-ending treasure of items inside.
Reusable Shopping Bags
What can't these babies do? I moved offices and discovered that using these reusable shopping bags makes moving books so much lighter and faster. They are great for taking essential items when you rent a beach house for a week. They are easy to throw things in for snacks at the park or baseball field. They are always within reach. Just throw it over your shoulder and start tossing things in to take with you.
But I digress.
They also make perfect bags to wrap gifts in. Seriously! Instead of paying several dollars for a gift bag that can only be used for specific occassions, why not buy a resuable shopping bag? Most of the time they cost $0.99. The most expensive bag shown in this section cost $2.99 (the craft bag below that's first in the line-up). The others all cost $0.99! They came from T.J. Maxx and a regional specialty grocery store in my area called The Fresh Market. They can be repurposed, are extremely fashionable, and cost less than a traditional gift bag.
What's not to love?
The next time someone throws a baby shower in your honor, you don't have to keep those bags and wait for ages for the next baby shower you're invited to attend in order to reuse them when you opt for this gift bag route. 🙂 You can use these bags yourself the very next week!
Yes, this one is tried and true, but it's often overlooked. What began as an eco-friendly tradition of putting out your own socks by the fireplace for Santa Claus, has morphed into having equisite, matching themed stockings for many familes (I'm not knocking that at all).
As kids want more and more technology and as family members get older, it's a lot easier to fit tons of things into a stocking. Stockings can hold the actual gifts instead just being for decoration or filled with candy and toothbrushes for stocking stuffers.
Also, instead of wrapping larger gifts, you can hide them and place clues inside the stocking that guide the receivers to them. Scavenger hunt + fun gifts + eco-friendly wrapping + a lasting memory = WIN-WIN!
As you plan your gifts this year, look at the gift items differently to see how you can use some of the items to wrap other items. You may even be able to reuse things around your home. And always keep an eye out for cute multipurpose bags to help incorporate eco-friendly ways to wrap your gifts.
With just a little thought, you can make a huge difference!