Would you like to avoid that embarrassing holiday garbage can? You know the one, full to the brim and beyond with boxes and paper from a few holiday gifts. Reusable gift wrap will save you the embarrassment, if that’s what motivates you. If you need more positive motivation, think of the good example and family tradition you create by reusing the same cloth gift wrap for your holiday gifts each year.
We my family started showing up at holidays and birthdays with gifts in cloth bags, it didn’t take long to convince our extended family that this was a great idea.
Cloth Gift Bags
Useful for: any size or weight of present since you can make them from any kind of fabric
Need for homemade: fabric, ribbon, sewing machine
How: sew up three sides & tie with a bow
I made heavy, velvet gift bags about ten years ago. We have sizes big enough for the biggest Playmobil boxes and small enough for earrings. I just sewed heavy cotton velvet in rich colors for the outside with brushed flannel prints on the inside. I sewed the top over ½” and added a satin cord for a drawstring. These were easy to make, and they do not wear out. You can make a gift bag even simpler than mine by using a ribbon around the opening rather than a sewn-in drawstring. Any kind of fabric works, so you can also use up scraps this way. Try wrapping new pajamas and a bedtime storybook in a bag of the same fabric.
Paper Gift Bags
Useful for: lighterweight gifts
Need for homemade: old shopping bags without logos and markers or stickers for decoration
How: save nice shopping bags and personalize with your children
Heavy paper shopping bags don’t always have logos, and logos can sometimes be covered up with stickers and drawings. Save what you get, and use what you have. You can let your children draw on the bags, cover with stickers, or create felt or fabric holly or snowflakes to glue on. To hide the gift inside, use a lightweight piece of chiffon fabric or a silk play cloth.
Decorated Boxes with Removable Lids
Useful for: jewelry, clothing, or other soft gifts
Need for homemade: markers, stickers, or drawings
How: save all lidded boxes and decorate with your children
Any lidded box can be beautifully decorated and redecorated. For jewelry, you can create a soft velvet pillow that stays in the box.
Cloth Gift Wrap
Useful for: most gifts, especially boxes, books, and odd shapes
Need for homemade: fabric
How: hem or not, closure or not, you have a lot of flexibility with cloth gift wrap
Cloth gift wrap can be as simple as a pile of play silks or as clever as a slightly stiff cloth envelope that can hold a card and close with a dot of hook & loop. If you have sandwich wraps, you can use these for presents (but wash them first). I like plain squares with hemmed edges so they last a longer time than unfinished edges that might unravel. A very lightweight wrap like silk play cloths allows you to tie fancy bows with the fabric. We always have a few Christmas crackers under our tree—cylinders with bows at each end. Heavier fabric can be tied into a simple bow. You can also have a collection of reusable ribbons, if you like that look, but I found ribbons had a way of disappearing into the dress-up box.
We have a limited number of reusable cloths and bags in my family. If we run out, each person runs to the hiding place where they keep gifts to wrap another. During the holidays, we generally open one small gift a day for 12 days, so we just take the day’s cloths each night and wrap new gifts for the morning.
Because it is easy to peek inside reusable wrapping, you might want to hold off until the last minute putting gifts under your tree to keep from tempting curious children.