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Wrap presents and save the planet!

It's the holiday tug-of-war - decorations are so beautiful, but they create a lot of waste! We love to wrap pretty packages, but do we really need to buy all this paper and ribbon just to throw away after a few frenzied hours? Of course not! Here's a plan to maximize festiveness and minimize waste for your wrapping adventures!

Step 1: find something to cover your presents. The world is full flat, opaque options: newspaper, magazine pages (tape together if you need a larger sheet) advertising inserts, or even dish towels or pillowcases - great for bulky items. This year, I cut apart the paper shopping bags our local bulk store forces us to use (pandemic dictates no personal containers to fill with rice and beans.)

Step 2: find something to hold everything together. I like to use leftover knitting project yarn, which I rescue from moth-eaten thrift store sweaters. But you can also use rubber bands, market produce twist ties, garden twine, or even a scarf or hair band, which itself could be part of the gift. Thrift stores are great sources for ribbons if you're a traditionalist.

Step 3: make tags out of something you already have on hand. My favorite is to recycle cereal or other food boxes - sturdy, easy to cut, good for colored pencils and markers, and thick enough for paint and glitter to your heart's content. This year, I made little hanging loops from my mother-in-law's embroidery thread so the tags can double as ornaments. No artistry needed. Just write a name, add some color and, if the Muse strikes, metallic paint and glitter. You can use my trick of mixing the glitter in clear varnish, which makes sure it doesn't get all over the place. My husband is glitter-phobic, so all glitter in our house must be corralled!

Step 4: add decorations. The nice thing is that anything colorful is festive at the holidays. Since wrapping is disposable, there's no pressure to be perfect. In this example, I cut a square sheet out of a catalog and made an origami paper crane (simple from instructions online), which I put on the top of the package to cover the logo of the box I had re-used. You could also cut

snowflakes, confetti, or other geometric shapes out of any leftover paper or cardboard.

The Whole Process: For the sample package above, I used an old toilet paper tube - perfect for wrapping small gifts and providing extra cushioning in packages. (Google "What to do with toilet paper rolls" for a plethora of great suggestions.) After packing the earrings in a cushioning piece of plastic bag, I put them in the tube and covered it with a square cut from a paper bag. Then I tied the ends like a Christmas cracker and took the extra decorative step of cutting a zigzag pattern on the edges. No measuring, just chopped away. No point in making myself crazy!

I was very pleased by the results. Mom's birthday is right after Christmas, and I wanted to illustrate that this works for presents all year long - not just the holidays.

Hope you got some good ideas for your own holiday wrapping merriment. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for making this holiday the most festive and most ecologically responsible ever.

Holiday kitties say, "May your holidays be merry and magical!"

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1 Comment

Very cool, Robin! I especially like the idea of cutting up cereal boxes etc for tags and adding your own colors.

Thanks, Emily

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