Save on wrapping paper
by Joyce Moseley Pierce
Fun, Inexpensive Gift Wrap
My Story: Special Gift Wrap
As my children were growing up, it always bothered me to buy wrapping paper only to see it ripped open and thrown in the fireplace or trash after Christmas gifts were opened. I tried using comics but soon discovered I didn't like the black newsprint it left on my hands and everyone else's. For me, gift-wrap was right up there with fireworks. We spent good money only to see it go up in smoke. I began to look for a solution.
I bought craft paper and stenciled things on it, but still, I felt the paper was going to waste. Then one year after Christmas, I saw holiday fabric on sale and had an idea! I bought yard after yard of it on clearance and brought it home to make gift bags.
Sewing My Gift Bags
I cut the fabric in various sizes. Sometimes, I only got two or three bags out of a yard, but I knew that they would be able to hold the bigger items, and better yet, I would be able to reuse them next year. I basically cut and sewed them like a pillowcase. I sewed a seam up three sides and left the top open. Then, I turned that edge in slightly and stitched it on the machine to finish it off. I then folded it in about three inches (or more on bigger bags) and hemmed it, and put another row of stitching about a half-inch above that one to create a casing for the ribbon. I slipped a piece of ribbon through the casing and tied it shut. If you have nosey kids, you may want to tie a knot!
Once the gifts are stuffed in the fabric bags with tissue paper, stand them up around the tree and enjoy your creative artwork! They look like miniature Santa bags. The best thing, besides the fact that in the long run you are saving money by not buying wrapping paper, is that you don't spend hours wrapping the gifts and don't need scotch tape or bows. One satin ribbon will last the lifetime of the bag. I still use gift tags and punch a hole in them so they can be run through the ribbon. You might save old Christmas cards and cut them up for gift tags.
At first, my kids hated it. I guess they liked the sound of the ripping paper and the big mess it created. As years went by, I was determined to make this work, and feel I have now succeeded. I continue to buy fabric occasionally because my family has grown and now includes in-laws and grandchildren. I make the bags big enough that I can insert a shirt box, etc. Sometimes, I just wrap the item with a lot of tissue paper and then stuff it in the fabric bag. Tissue paper allows people to hear the crunching of paper and seems to satisfy the need for noise! Tissue paper is also reusable for the same purpose next year. Just fold it up and put it away with the bags. All of the bags can be folded and stuffed inside the largest bag. You can save space, time, and money.
If you have wrapping paper left over from last year (some people unwrap gifts and save the paper), try running it through a shredder to use as stuffing for your bags. The fuller the bags, the cuter they look under the tree.
Use whatever fabric catches your eye or whatever is on sale. I like the red and green holiday fabric, but I've since incorporated some blue and gold into the group. Even plain muslin or pillow ticking can look good if you spice it up with fancy ribbon. Be creative.
Joyce is a freelance writer and owner of Emerson Publications. She is the creator of "All They'll Need to Know," a workbook to help families record personal and financial information. She is also the editor of The Family First Newsletter, an ezine for families with young children. Copyright 2002 Joyce Moseley Pierce
Take the Next Step:
- Check out our Christmas Countdown Calendar. A 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas.
- Check out some additional articles to help prepare for Christmas this year.
- For inexpensive Christmas gift ideas, visit The Dollar Stretcher library.
- Discuss "Gift Bags" with other Dollar Stretchers in The Dollar Stretcher Community.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- Best September bargains for thrifty shoppers
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- Start now and have a stress free Christmas later
- Raising money for your school, church or non-profit group
- Inexpensive storybook costume ideas
- Organizing the disorganized mom
- This week's Readers' Tips