Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wrap 'n Roll

I stayed up last night until all of the merchandise in retail bags had been converted to Christmas presents. It was a long haul but easier with my DIY gift bags and determination not to use any wrap that is not sustainable; it must be reclaimed, reused or hand made from recycled materials around the house. That goes for the tags as well. I have not had to buy any wrapping materials (except tea towels) for five years now and my new approach is not only good for the environment, it is good for my soul. I cast off the chains of "perfection" for made with love.  It is a challenge every year, and now it has become one of the most enjoyable Christmas preps I make. Thought I would share some of my tips ... keeping in mind that I am no Martha Stewart nor am I artistic. But I do have a good imagination!
Tools of the trade
Save everything! Then store for next year.
I have found the the zippered plastic bags that bedding comes in make excellent storage for gift bags, ribbons, bows and flattened cardboard boxes. Keep traces of ribbon, and used wrapping paper.

Wrap it up
Last year I bought big bundles of cheap but colourful tea towels and used them as wrapping paper, with tiny safety pins taking the place of tape. I even threaded the odd button onto the safety pin before securing it. This year I bought three bundles and sewed them into gift bags. I secured the gathered top of the bag with an elastic and wrapped cloth ribbons around it. I also used yarn and shoelaces.

If you don't want to use tea towels, reclaim old t-shirts, flannel PJs and pant legs of old clothes. My daughter pointed out that a pant pocket fits a CD perfectly. Hand sew if necessary.

I noticed that some of the plastic retail bags were richly decorated in shades of red so I cut them open and used them for wrapping paper. I had a calender to wrap (a tradition with our cousin) and noticed it came in a clear plastic sleeve. I took out and wrapped some reclaimed gold tissue paper around it and slid it back into the sleeve. I used a Sharpie to label it directly onto the plastic.

Jars make neat containers as well. Just wrap the contents in fabric and screw on the lid. You can cover the lid with  piece of fabric and then secure it with an elastic and ribbon.

Reuse cardboard boxes (shoe boxes, shipping etc), using colourful duct tape or green painter's tape to cover any labels or print on the boxes. Another trick is to spray pieces of fabric (old sheets, shirts and t-shirts count as fabric!) with adhesive and cover those big box store gift boxes. The fabric extends the life of the cardboard so that the box can be reused for years to come.

Label it.
I cut little shapes out of cardboard, plastic bags and old Christmas cards and decorate with Sharpies. I use pins to secure the labels to the fabric bags and tape to glass jars. I puncture holes in the tags and then thread the ribbon or yarn through to affix the tag.

Decorate it.
Use old beads and buttons to thread or sew onto the cloth bags. Old pins and brooches make attractive adornments on the rustic bags.

Must haves
Safety pins, duct tape (colourful), green painter's tape, a collection of Sharpie markers, raffia, yarn, adhesive tape, scissors, spray fabric glue, and glue stick.

The best part is the fun it is to use your imagination and stuff on hand. ENJOY!

Plastic bag as wrapping paper
Tea Towel bag

Wrapped in tissue and slipped into a plastic sleeve.

Finished product

Painters' tape


  1. how inventive the tea towel gift bags! so cute.

    wishing you the best holiday season ever! one love.

  2. Lyn I love this idea, thanks so much for sharing your tips!



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