Could you, would you, skip wrapping paper this year?
It started, for me, with Amy's No Plastic Holiday Challenge. I'm just not ready to give up all plastic, not entirely, anyway. But it did get me thinking. And as I'm now actively looking for little steps towards growing greener, I did find something I thought I could do: Skip the wrapping paper, this year.
Oh, if my kids only knew I'd said that. They'd gasp in horror. But I'm not talking about just handing things to people with no element of surprise or anything -- after all, half the fun of Christmas morning at our house is lifting each gift, shaking it, and declaring, "I'm pretty sure this one is a puppy!" -- I'm talking about eliminating the wastefulness of paper wrapping.
I sat down to consider my options. Well, we have a stash of holiday-themed paper gift bags we've always used for larger and hard-to-wrap presents, already. Items are inserted, topped with a bit of camouflaging tissue paper, and placed under the tree. After the gift is removed by the recipient, the bag is neatly folded (along with the tissue paper!) and stored for use the next year. I also have a stack of cardboard shirt and sweater boxes decorated with holiday prints, used in the same way. (Those are the best for guessing the gift is a puppy, by the way. Because puppies often come in shirt boxes.)
Between the recyclable gift bags and boxes, I would estimate that I usually end up wrapping about half the gifts we give out. Of those, maybe 25% stay here amongst the family, with 75% going out as teacher and other gifts. (That is, to people to whom I cannot say, "Hey, just hand me that bag back and I'll put it away. Thanks!")
I went online to start looking for ideas about how to avoid gift wrap without just handing out naked presents. There were the usual suspects, such as wrapping the gifts in the comics (something I used to do as a kid) or tinfoil (shiny! but still wasteful). There were also lots of crafty suggestions about how to dress up plain paper bags or repurpose plastic ones. The only problem there (well, other than the obvious one, which is that you're still ultimately creating trash) is that I've finally been successful in moving the family to bringing our own bags everywhere. So... we don't have any paper or plastic bags to use!
As much as I like the idea of wrapping, say, video games for the kids in new shirts (thus presenting both gifts, but turning one into wrap), this rather limits the whole "wow I wonder what those presents under the tree are" days of anticipation, leading up to the big day.
I thought I remembered reading a post about someone making reusable fabric gift bags. I had! It was a while ago, but Lady M blogged about her fabric gift bags, and I remembered thinking that was a great idea. Of course, I'm not terribly handy with a sewing machine, myself, and that doesn't solve the issue of giving to someone outside of the family, either.
A bit of poking around turned up Joell Jacob's reusable giftwrap, which is not only reusable, but uses a clever slit-and-ribbon system to create smooth, paper-like coverage when used. Hmmmm. Definitely a possibility for in-family gifts.
I'm just going to make it official: I will not purchase or use any wrapping paper this year. I will both utilize the recyclable options I already own and try to find new ways to skirt the issue of wasting paper. It may not save the planet, but it will significantly soothe my conscience.
Who's with me?