Do you look at the mounds of crumpled, torn wrapping paper after Christmas and wonder about all the waste? Many people share this concern for the environment and are looking for ways to save money while being more eco-friendly. Making your own wrapping paper this holiday season is a small but significant way to address both of these concerns. After all, wrapping paper can cost more than $5 a roll, and most if not all of it is torn up and thrown away.
Did you ever decorate butcher paper when you were a child? The technique has not changed, and neither has the rewarding fun. Get your kids involved in this green, economical project this year. Here are some ideas for making home-made gift-wrap.
English: The front of a paper shopping bag, issued by the Eaton’s department store in Canada during the Second World War. “Make this bag last! Paper is vital to the war effort. Help save it. Parcels carried – save gasoline, rubber and wrapping materials.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Paper bags
This is a simple, uncomplicated way to make wrapping paper. You can just use the decorated brown paper bag as a gift bag, or cut the bags up to make sheets of wrapping paper. If you have rubber stamps, by all means use those. But if you don’t, or if you want a different design, there’s no need to run out and buy them – you can make your own ink stamp from a potato, or employ your children’s hands to make multi-colored hand-prints with tempura paint.
To make your own potato stamps, you’ll need:
- a potato
- a permanent marker
- small knife, such as an Exacto
- ink or paint
Cut the potato in half. Use the permanent marker to draw a simple design, such as a triangular tree-shape, on the cut end of the potato. Then, using a small, sharp knife (grown-ups only for this step!), cut away the negative space around your design. The part that is not cut away will be your stamp. Use the other half of the potato for another design.
Dip the potato in ink or tempura paint and stamp away. White paint on brown paper adds sparkle, green and red are seasonal, and a variety of colors is interesting and fun. Let the stamp design and color choice say something about you and your family, or about the gift recipient.
2. Newspaper and catalogues
Wrapping a gift in the colorful Sunday funnies is old-fashioned and economical. You can also contact your local newspaper and ask if they will give you the “butt ends” of the paper rolls. These are blank ends of the newspaper rolls that are thrown away after each printing. You can decorate this as you would the paper bags.
Use the pages of all those catalogues you get in the mail for colorful gift-wrap. Some of the pictures in catalogues can be really beautiful, and they are certainly festive and seasonal.
3. Old maps
Who doesn’t have old, unused maps lying around? Search your car, desk drawers, etc. and you will probably find a map you no longer need. This is an especially whimsical way to wrap a gift for someone who is moving, has just moved, or otherwise lives far away.
4. Skip the bows
Instead of wasteful bows, fasten something creative to your wrapped gift, such as seashells, interesting seed pods or other natural autumn treasures, or dried flowers. A sprig of holly, cinnamon sticks, or feathers also make creative gift-finishers.
Have fun making your own wrapping paper this season, and enjoy saving money and going green!