One part of Christmas gift giving that has always bothered me is the wrapping paper. I do love the colorful paper and the cheerful ribbons. Yet I have a bit of heartache when I see that lovely paper get ripped into messy pieces, wadded up and thrown away. (And don’t get me started on the effect that all that paper has on our local landfills. According to the Recycler’s Handbook, 1990, HALF of all paper consumed in the Unites States was for wrapping paper products. That’s about 4 million tons.)
I try to keep a balance with the gift wrapping. I’ll have several gifts that are beautifully wrapped, with elegant paper and lots of ribbons and bows. I’ll also mix in gifts wrapped nicely, but simply and with less expensive paper and perhaps just a ribbon or one bow.
I admit that cost is not the only factor; some of that has to do with how tired I am of wrapping presents. You can usually tell the presents I wrapped first from the ones I wrapped last. First ones: lots of fancy paper, sharp folded edges, curly ribbons, and bows. Last one: lucky to have the paper on straight and even luckier to have a bow.
Wrapping paper is on sale this week at Target for $2.50 for a 90 sq ft roll. Even so, I’ll wait until after Christmas when it is on sale for less than half that price. I’ll store it in the attic to use for wrapping presents next year.
I’ll also scout through the Christmas clearance paper to see if any of the rolls will be suitable for birthday and other occasion gifts. Plain colors, like gold or red, make good all-occasion wrapping paper. Paper with designs is usually a little harder to use throughout the year, unless, of course, you can convince the kids that snowmen in Santa hats is a really cool way to decorate birthday presents in August.
You may even want to re-use wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. In their book, Living on a Shoestring, the Tightwad Twins recommend ironing used wrapping paper to make it like new. Spray on a little starch if needed to make the paper crisp again. That is a nice idea, especially if the wrapping paper is especially beautiful. However, I like the idea only if it is used as a natural afterthought and does not take control of the unwrapping process. It seems rather stressful and Scrooge-like to insist that a gift recipient tediously and carefully avoid ripping the wrapping paper as they are opening an exciting gift.
Gifts bags are especially easy to reuse. Even the tissue paper inside the bags is usually reusable. Just be sure to take off the gift tag. You don’t want to give a gift to sweet Aunt Mabel that has a gift tag that says “Merry Christmas to my brother”.
To save money on wrapping large gifts, I have a favorite tip: the Sunday comics. The comics are colorful, fun, and best of all: free. This year I wrapped one of Chris’ gifts in the comics:
I won’t tell you what the gift is, because it’s a surprise. I’m really looking forward to watching him open it.
You can also use other materials from home to wrap presents. Large scraps of fabric, pretty cloth shopping bags, inside-out brown paper bags, old maps, and even new towels can be used to wrap a gift.
With a little imagination and creativity, you can save a lot of money on wrapping paper this year. Have fun while doing it and you’ve got the Fat Dollar way!
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays