The rampant consumerism at this time of the year can really get you down. Well it gets me down at any rate. I've been looking increasingly over the last few years at alternatives that aren't going to cost the Earth, literally.
Wrapping paper is one key item that I resent spending money on. OK, so it isn't exactly a huge expense. You can pick up a couple of cheap rolls of paper for less than a quid. It will be really thin, mind, and rip easily. But still it is fairly cheap, especially when you consider it is simply going to get ripped right off.
But it is all such a waste. Then there are the Christmas cards. And decorations.
So what else can you do? Here's some ideas, a few of which you and the kids can have fun doing together if you like. It also teaches them about recycling, and ways they can make good use of everything.
This one actually came up in the school playground yesterday. One of the mums was talking about a friend of hers who uses magazine pages and newspaper inserts as wrapping paper, and she planned to do the same herself.
I found some useful ideas on this blog, Made By Joel.
Sounds good and you can just use it for wrapping like you would ordinary paper. But what about giving it a little artistic touch to make it seem a bit more special?
One suggestion from mum of three Sue is to use ribbons or wool yarn, and decorate the ends with beads.
She also had a really super cool suggestion, and a useful thing to do with the old newspapers you might have lying around. Make a paper rose to decorate the present. "I've adapted an online tutorial I found, and use big scrunchy pieces of newspaper, that the kids splatter with different coloured paints. I staple the middle bit, using two staples across each other like an X." says Sue. If you've got a copy of the FT or another coloured newspaper lying about, alternate with a petal from ordinary paper for a nice effect.
Crisp packets. No really, I'm not kidding. Keep your empty crisp packs, from the little ones, to the big packets. The kind that have the shiny insides.
Mum and grandmother Chris tried this out and found that little ones in particular like to get these shiny gifts. She got the idea from,
She suggests that you cut open the bag along its seam to reveal the shiny white or silver inside. Flatten the bag, then give it a wash with soap and water. Let the bag air dry, although I would probably give it a bit of a dry off with a cloth too so it doesn't dry with water marks on it. Then wrap your present so it is nice and shiny. Use ribbons and homemade cards to finish the decoration.
How many old map books do you think you might have lurking about in the back of a cupboard, or the car? Trying and failing to navigate our way through the vastly remodelled East End of London I realised that we probably needed to invest in some maps dated more recently than 1997.
I wish I'd kept it now. I got this idea from this website - it is in Spanish though, but the idea is easy to decipher from the photo. It gives presents an interesting look, especially if you can layer the pages. On this website, they've done something similar (but clearly are using vintage maps tying it up with brown twine or string as a nice decorative touch.
Keep the paper bags you get through out the year, and undo them along the seams. When you're next in Ikea, take a little more than you need of the brown wrapping paper.
Also, pop in to a decorating shop sometime and get some wallpaper samples.
All this nice, stiff paper can be the decoration on its own, especially if you use crayons, glitter, paint or stamps on the brown paper.
But how about dressing it with ribbons, twine, yarn, or string instead. I never realised how decorative something as simple as a bit of wool and a button could be until I saw the inspiring wrappings on this blog, SoResourceful. Scroll down, my absolute favourite are the buttons. But I also love the use of paper doilies!
Wrapping paper alternative #5
Got an old calendar or stiff takeaway pamphlets? Here's what I think is a truly brilliant idea, but you will need something thin but stiff to make one. A gift box. Specifically a pillow box gift box.
You can download a template for one of these gift boxes from this site, Homemade Gifts Made Easy. Scroll down the page to choose from two templates, small and large.
If you're not thrilled with using a menu, then glue paper onto the card.
Use fabric. Cut up old clothes, and use fabric glue to stick together, or look for cutoffs and samples when you're next in a fabric shop. Use ribbon or yarn to tie the material up.
What are your wrapping paper aternatives?
C'mon spill, what fabby secrets do you have when it comes to wrapping presents? Enquiring minds are desperate to know!