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Recycled, alternative gift wrap

DSCN1632I can't remember the last time I bought wrapping paper. I have a few rolls of holiday-related paper collecting dust on a shelf somewhere, but I think it's much more fun to find other ways to wrap (or not wrap) presents. Plus the Internet is teeming with ideas from crafty bloggers, so there's no end of inspiration.

I've admitted before, I'm a total gift wrap accessory hoarder: raffia, tiny pine cones, fake berries, you name it. Ribbon is my weakness, because I believe, contrary to what the Beatles espoused, all you need is ribbon. Ribbon can make the gift, so when I'm in the presence of presents I keep an eagle eye on all the ribbon, swooping in for the catch. I actually bought two big rolls of fabric ribbon from Michael's a few years ago: a red with white polka dots, and a wide creamy ribbed ribbon. These two ribbons have been so versatile that now I'm addicted to them. A gift wrapped in the b&w funny papers with red polka dot ribbon? Perfect for a kid. A simple brown box wrapped in cream ribbon with a pretty tag? Merry Christmas, Mom.

DSCN1633 DSCN1635 I know that people believe children need the thrill of tearing into paper to truly experience the thrill of gift-receiving. I like to think that children would also appreciate the cuddly softness of a gift wrapped in, say, an old t-shirt or pillowcase. (Stop rolling your eyes, they might stick that way.) I dove into my rag bag the other day and found this ripped pillowcase, onto which I sewed a wide ribbon around the mouth. I'm going to put my son's gift from Santa in here because it will be sort of like opening Santa's pack. Right? (I typically don't wrap Santa's presents -- they just sit out waiting for discovery -- but there will be so few this year that I need to d-r-a-w out the experience.) Also, cloth gift bags are super easy to sew and then just tie closed with ribbon. I like to sew my ribbon to the bag with just a few stitches in the center of the ribbon along the seam of the bag.

DSCN1630 Hope from the Eastside GreenGroup sent us an email saying that the group was discussing Furoshiki -- artfully wrapping gifts in fabric. I found this little tutorial on Furoshiki (provided by the Japanese government!) but I am sadly lacking in skills and patience. I did manage to wrap this little box so it is somewhat presentable. (I should note that this fabric is very thin, and that Renee actually made it from scraps leftover from a Halloween costume and wrapped a gift in it for me last year.) But you go Eastside GreenGroup! Email us photos of your Furoshiki creations! Oh wait! Check out this Furoshiki video tutorial. Love the book wrap!

DSCN1627 I experimented wrapping this gift in a piece of green fabric, and while I like the idea of it, I'd definitely need to iron this and hem the edges. Which would take far longer than I'd ever want to spend on wrapping a gift. However, the gift wrap would become a gift in itself -- and that's part of the goal, right? To reject the idea of purely disposable goods? I didn't use tape on this or anything, I just tucked the ends under and used the ribbon to fasten the whole thing together.

DSCN1628 This is part of a t-shirt from the rag bag. I like how the top kinda looks like a rose.

DSCN1641 I also tend to hoard small boxes and containers that come my way, because darn it they are just so handy. And if they are interesting, then you don't even need to wrap them. Oh, another great container? A jam jar, or a Mason jar. I'm telling you, save the tissue from that new pair of shoes and line the inside of the jar with it, and top it off with -- what? Ribbon.

It occurs to me that I've used the word hoard more than once here. Let's just be clear -- we're talking gift wrap, not cats.

Alright, I also love wrapping a gift in a brown paper bag and then using pretty ribbon or wrapping a thin swath of wrapping paper around the bag. That way I can be a little stingy with paper that I really love. I received a gift in that blue paper with the birds (above), and while I typically don't save wrapping paper, I've used this so many times for little tags or tiny wrappings.

OK, enough of what I'm doing already. What about you? What are some of your favorite recycled gift wrap techniques?

Oh, and about recycling. Most wrapping paper can be recycled as long as it isn't foil. Tissue can be recycled, too. But as always, it varies from city to city, so check with your hauler. When in doubt, throw it out.


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