In a perfect world, we'd carefully unwrap gifts and save the paper for reuse next year. But tearing apart wrapping paper is about 98 percent of the fun, isn't it? Still, gift wrap accounts for much of the 25 percent spike in waste during the holiday season. Meanwhile, according to The Use Less Stuff Report, reuse of just two feet of ribbon per family would save enough of the trimming to tie a bow around the entire planet. That's a whole lot of ribbon.
If the mounds of colorful wrapping paper on your living room floor make you feel a little guilty-wasteful, even-here are a few creative reuse ideas to ease your conscience.
Off the Wall
The repetitive patterns of wallpaper are very similar to that of wrapping paper. Check your garage or closets for wallpaper scraps or samples you may have leftover. Create a reusable "Hollywood box" by wrapping a lid and box separately, or cover an old shoebox to put your gift into. Your box will be so pretty that the receiver is sure to reuse it to give another gift, or as a memory box or coupon holder in the off-season.
The art on wall calendars can reflect everything from cute puppies to beautiful landscapes. Too bad they expire at the end of the year. Give them a second life as wrapping paper. Provided you haven't scribble appointments into the grids, those pages can make an interesting wrapping paper patterns, too. You might even consider marking uniform red Xs in date boxes to convey the countdown to Christmas, or circle birthdates for a personal touch.
Old sheet music makes a great wrap for CDs, LPs, or just about any other gift. A festive red bow against the swirls of musical notes makes for a beautiful package.
Eliminate waste altogether by shrouding gifts in practical fabrics. Gather holiday cookies, a few mixing utensils, or a coffee mug into a colorful dish towel tied with a bow. Consider wrapping gloves in a scarf, or a picnic basket in a tablecloth. Be creative.
Out-of-date road and subway maps make for an interesting wrap. Consider using the stuff to wrap passport holders and luggage tags for the travel-enthusiasts on your list this year.
Brown shipping paper is another all-purpose wrap that you can jazz up with artistic folding and embellishments. As wrapmaster Jane Means demonstrates here, you can create a striking package wrapped in leftover shipping paper that is worthy of a special hand delivery. __Tabitha Sukhai
For even more guilt-free wrapping ideas, see Guilt-Free Gift Wrap at thisoldhouse.com