Many people still have wrapping paper from past years. We all get tired of patterns…so, I am holding a swap paper party in November! No paper that is already made, goes to waste…and no one buys more paper this year! We already buy recycled…but this takes it farther!
I will green the holidays by 1. Giving less. Too much crap is given and received that no one really needs. 2. Giving existing items that I know would be special to someone else – old family treasures, etc. 3. A local craftsman sells beautiful, useful cheese boards and other items made from broken scraps of granite countertop, saving them from the trash. 4. Minimal gift wrap, decorating with natural items from our yard like magnolia leaves, holly, etc.
This year I used thrift store sweaters to make stockings for everyone in my family. ($2 for more than 30 gifts). I’m filling those stocking with homemade gifts such as bath salts and treats. To wrap everything up, I’m putting the gifts in the stockings, then folding the toe of the stocking into the opening and adding a ribbon and bow – voila! Beautifully wrapped present. with zero actual wrapping! I’m so excited for Christmas!
My holiday gifts the last couple of years have been themed around 1) Reuse, and 2) Experiences. By reuse, I mean I find rare, quirky items (often for not much money) at antique malls and estate sales. This isn’t something you can do too terribly last-minute; in fact, I shop all year long, or at least get started by late summer, because I have to root around for the “perfect” fit for the various personalities in my life (vintage silk scarfs, leather jackets, early 20th-Century books, costume jewelry, art). I hit antique malls whenever I have to travel outside of major metropolitan areas (where retailer prices are inflated based on more affluent customer base, and a lot of times the “good” stuff is picked over, with only “junk” remaining — ‘course, “junk” is a totally subjective , as one person’s trash is another’s treasure). And by experiences, I mean I typically give restaurant gift cards to the foodies in my life or overworked couples who need a nice date night. A progressive-minded, locally-owned restaurant franchise that would otherwise be a pretty pricey place to eat (Sunset Grille / Cabana / Midtown Cafe here in Nashville) annually does a “buy one, get one 50% off gift card” for a holiday special. And being from Music City USA, I also give concert tickets. For example, my mother wanted to see Johnny Mathis on Valentine’s Day with our Nashville Symphony, and she just *lit* up when she opened the tickets on Christmas Day. This year, she’ll get tickets to Smokey Robinson with the Symphony, also on Valentine’s. Giving her the chance to hear live, the music from her coming-of-age years — she just gets so excited. Her happiness makes for my happiness. In either case (reuse and experiences), there’s nothing, really, to go into a landfill, and there’s an awful lot to treasure: between one-of-a-kind keepsakes and music memories.
This Thanksgiving, we’re foregoing the usual supermarket butterball turkey in favor of a turkey raised on a nearby farm and sold at our local Amish farmers market. We’re even kicking it up a notch by serving local wines and cheeses as pre-feast nibbles.
When I make cookies and give them out in saved coffee cans. I also use the fronts of last year’s Christmas cards as the labels for gifts instead of buying new labels. I also started giving gifts like taking my grandma out to a nice dinner or some other excursion – less stuff that she doesn’t need anyway and time with her grandchildren, which she loves!
I got this idea one day scrambling to find wrapping paper for my Mom’s birthday present minutes before the Post Office was about to close. I saw grocery store circulars on a random stoop and snatched them up! Now all of my wrapping paper is made out of old circulars and discarded newspapers. It might sound strange but the presents turn out to be just as beautifully wrapped!
1) NOTHING disposable will be used when entertaining–plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery are all permanent. This is really cheaper, folks. And your stuff does not have to match. We get dishes, napkins, etc, at thrift stores and mix and match. It’s fun, colorful, and eco-friendly. I had some cloth napkins for over 10 years. They just get softer over time.
2) ALL gifts will be purchased from locally-owned stores or local crafts people. No mail-order, no big-box store shopping. This decreases greenhouse gas emissions for shopping, and supports local businesses.
3) Gifts will mostly be food, cookbooks, other books by local authors, kitchen utensils made by local people out of reclaimed wood, or wooden toys made locally. Everyone on our list eats, likes to cook healthy food, and reads.
3) Gift wrapping will be in reusable canvas shopping bags and sturdy boxes, with real fabric ribbon we reuse every year. Gift tags are made from the Christmas cards we received last year, along with other reused paper.
4) Decorations will be locally grown evergreen branches, pine cones we collect on walks, and other natural items that we can compost after using.
I take down an invasive cedar tree to decorate each year and I’m giving “experiences” as holiday gifts this year to my loved ones. For those who don’t want an experience (trip, field day, night out, etc.), I give small hand-made, local items, wrapped in re-used brown paper bags. I gift all of my holiday cookies in re-used coffee tins.
This year I intend to do more of my shopping at local small stores and farmer’s markets as opposed to online. I also hope to hand-make some gifts for close friends and family. I hope that this will bring more of a special feeling back to the holidays.
This year I’m getting the older kids gift cards so I won’t have to wrap their presents and they’ll get to pick what they want instead of “settling” with what I would get them (we all know how preteens/teenagers are!). For the younger kids, I will wrap their presents in either the pages from an old super hero calendar, the pages from an old children’s book that has been partially destroyed, or reusable bags. I also send out plantable holiday cards.
I always use colorful newspaper pages (including those for the liquor store) for wrapping paper. To decorate them, I don’t use ribbon, but instead I glue the pretty front pages of past holiday cards to the top of each. It’s recyclable and all recipients understand that.
I agree with Kathy. Our family has donated to charity rather than give “stuff” for over ten years, and we feel better about giving to a charity than about getting some useless trinket that clutters up the closet. We have enough heirlooms without cheapening them. Now that our parents have passed forward, we give to an organization that meant something to them — a grand remembrance of their generosity to us and to others.
My emphasis for all things in life – is REUSABLE! I Make, Give and Use for the Holidays things that are always Reusable and never disposable. There is a tendency when giving parties, to make things more “convenient” to use throw-away paper and plastic products, which I never use any more. Also in my online shop of Handmade items, I emphasize some alternatives to throw-away things to use for Holiday entertaining, such as Washable Cotton Baskets, Mats, Decorations: http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/RSSDesignsInFiber/0/0/47316 — and I do Custom Orders for the Holidays if I get the orders early enough!!
I have a sheet-and-blanket-drive amongst my friends and co-workers, and take the donations down to the local emergency veterinary clinic. They and regular veterinary hospitals are always in need of sheets, towels and blankets for recovering surgical patients, whelping mama dogs, and shock victims. It’s great cleaning out cupboards and putting the extras to use!
We ask our extended family to give us bird seed and suet for xmas since we have everything we need. Our nephews slather peanut butter on pinecones and roll them in millet. My in-laws give us suet and we have two feeders that bring us hours of enjoyment to watch. One year we got a squirrel feeder and that was loads of fun as they tried to lift the lid and get to the goodies inside.
Gifts like this focuses our attention outdoors and on nature, which somehow rights the balance of an increasingly fast-paced world that’s saturated with technology and gizmos.
I just wanted to share this with you because it is a new take on an old idea. I used to always have a real tree them some where along the way allergies and convenience and the idea I was saving a real tree gave sway, and I bought a fake tree. I had found if I brought a real tree home and turned it upside down and right side up and sprayed it many times with the hose, gave it a really good wash I eliminated the allergy problem for the family. Now I see new information and times have changed my good idea that I was #1 saving a real tree. So all of us who went this route need instructions as to how to ‘greenly’ if there is such a word, dispose of our fake tree. Joyce Karsko
I’ve been saving and re-using holiday wrapping paper, ribbon, etc. for many years. Not everyone in my husband’s family is on board with me, so I grab “pretties” out of the trash. For small packages (usually an ornament I’ve made or currency for the younger in-laws), I cut off a part of what I’ve gleaned. Bigger packages get patchworks or collages. My husband is trying to get his relatives to go with the donation system but there aren’t any takers, unfortunately. We’ll keep trying!
I like to wrap presents in dish towels or use reusable shopping bags instead of paper.
We reuse gift bags. Poor little things are usually one-hit wonders. Plus it saves us money! No brainer.
I’ve turned old tshirts into gift bags.
With my friends I/ we often make donations to non profits especially the local food bank and animal shelter. Organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee is always a hit.I often do home baking as gifts. This year one of my friends had enough honey from their backyard hives that I was able to purchase a number of jars for gifts. I have purchased trees planted in their names. With some family members we have purchased gift certificates to the grocery store. For the kids they always get great books.
I will continue to use the fabric gift bags I made over 20 years go
One idea for cute, classy, and sustainable gift wrapping is to use a medium to large ethically-sourced square scarf to wrap your presents. Just place the gift in the middle of the scarf and play around with different ways of tying the ends until you find a look that you like.
Years ago I bought several large squares of colorful cloth in Guatemala and several spools of fabric ribbon at a local store. I use and re-use these every year to wrap some of my gifts. Additionally, we have been re-using the same bows for about 20 years. Sometimes I even wrap gifts in pillow cases or sheets, too. My daughters just laugh. And they tease me when I take back the wrappers.
I wrap Christmas gifts in fabric remnants and decorate with pine branches. The adults in our family do a “Secret Santa”, choosing a charity to receive a donation instead of exchanging gifts. In addition to a small gift for the children, I also choose a charity for a donation in their names to acquaint them with the idea of giving.
I shred old magazine pages in my paper shredder and then line the strands up in a pile and tie a piece of string tightly in the center. I then crumple and fluff up the paper strand edges to make recycled gift bows for my gift packages. People always comment on how cute and clever they are and it makes a great reuse of magazines! I’ve actually had people offer me money to make the bows for them too which makes me giggle.
In our garden club egg cartoons are being given to local farmers market sellers. Tote bags are being made from seed and feed bags to use in place of plastic and paper shopping bags. Old wall paper sample books are being used to make greeting cards.
Last year I started using paper grocery bags as wrapping paper and then after the presents were unwrapped the paper was used to keep us warm while it was burning in the fireplace. I also did away with bows and a lot of ribbon by tying a piece of greenery to the boxes instead of bows. It was a great look and provided a lovely aroma in the house.
Any ideas for nice looking gift wrapping/decorating?
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