These days, when a greeting card or gift bag can cost more than a Starbucks coffee, wrapping costs can quickly add up. If you are gifting on a shoestring, every little bit counts, and minimizing packaging expenses means more money to spend on the actual gifts themselves. The added benefit? Economizing often means reducing waste through recycling, reuse or repurposing, so your efforts to cut costs may actually help the environment too!
Before you buy or make your gifts, we recommend taking a few moments to consider how you are going to present and wrap them. A little advance planning can translate into meaningful savings down the road. Here are a few suggestions that might help bring down the costs associated with gift giving:
Conserve gift wrap: carefully unwrap gifts you receive and save the paper so you can reuse it. We suggest using the saved paper to wrap gifts of a slightly smaller size than the one you received – this allows you to avoid the wrinkly or tape-torn bits from the first wrapping.
Save that tissue paper: stores often line shopping bags with tissue paper – if it doesn’t have a store logo on it, save it for re-use too!
Kraft paper for the win: we recommend investing in a large roll of kraft paper. Not only is it generally a more economical option paper-wise, it offers a wonderfully blank canvas for all sorts of creative wrapping. Jazz it up with rubber stamps, drawings, fancy lettering, or washi tape - or, keep it simple and go all The Sound of Music with “brown paper packages tied up with string.”
Newspapers and magazines: done creatively, common household papers that would normally end up in the recycling bin can also be used to make amazing wrapping papers – be it newspaper, magazines (advertisements and all!) and/or brown paper bags.
Repurpose shopping bags as gift tags: shops often package up your purchases in tissue paper and a nice bag, especially during the holiday season. We touched on the tissue paper above, but do take a look at the bag too! Oftentimes they are made of good quality paper in lovely colors and/or patterns. It only takes a pair of scissors, a hole punch, and a moment or two, to sit down and make a few gift tags. Square is the traditional shape but squiggles and triangles work too!
Reusable wrapping options: if you will be exchanging gifts with a group of people (family!) on a regular basis, it might be worth suggesting a switch from paper to cloth (or cloth bags), an eminently reusable medium. There is the upfront cost of investing in fabric but, in the long run, your cost savings should outweigh this initial outlay. There are lots of bargains to be had too - we have had great success purchasing large and varied pieces of cloth in the remainder bins at fabric and craft stores such as Jo-Ann’s. And, if cloth isn’t your thing, gift boxes might be just the ticket - they are also reusable and negate the need for wrapping paper. Another plus? Both cloth and/or boxes typically make giving of awkwardly shaped items a whole lot easier!
Stock up on yarn: as cloth is to wrapping paper, yarn is to satin ribbon. Available in a wide range of colors, and in varying weights, yarn is a cheery (and generally more economical) way to tie up your parcels – make yarn pompoms as appropriate.
Natural gift garnishes: natural gift garnishes are cheap and cheerful. Have a holly bush growing out front? Consider snipping a few sprigs off to liven up your winter gifts. For summertime, aromatic herbs like rosemary or thyme work a treat. We have even saved wood curls from a woodworking project to make our own wood “ribbon” gift toppers.
Dried flowers: fresh flowers can be useful twice over – first, to brighten up your home – and, second, in pressed form, to pretty up a parcel or gift card. We’ve found that old telephone books are ideal for flower pressing – slip in a few blooms and add some weight. Et, voilà, a couple of weeks later you have a host of lovely gift garnishes!
Post-holiday sales: last but not least, one of our most tried and true tips: purchase gift wrapping for various holidays after they have happened. Yes, this sounds odd and, yes, it does require advance planning – here’s the forethought we were mentioning above – but it can save you 50-75% on things like Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s wrapping paper and/or gift garnishes. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday in question, it’s worth taking a look – for example, red paper isn’t just handy for Christmas, it’s great for Valentine’s Day too – and wine bags bedecked with snowflakes can be used for any wintry gathering!
We hope these ideas provide some food for thought and that they prove helpful. Do you have additional tips and tricks for economical gift wrapping? If so, please do share in the comment section - we’re always keen to hear new ideas!
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