As the summer winds to a close and the kids are all bored, it's the perfect time to sit inside in the air conditioning and have children help you make some extra special and inexpensive packaging for upcoming gift giving occasions.
1. For little ones, make it simple.
Get out the brown paper grocery bags (or craft paper or white butcher paper) and finger paints, and let them paint away. If they're older, they can use rubber stamps or paints and brushes and make all kinds of unique wrapping paper.
2. Juice cartons (in quart or half-gallon size or juice boxes)
These make interesting containers if you're giving small size gifts (gift certificates or money in the juice boxes) or bigger gifts. Have the kids take construction paper and glue to decorate the cartons with a solid color and then they can cut out hearts or stars or snowflakes to add on depending on the holiday. Or they can use foam stickers, glue on buttons or glitter or anything you have around the house to personalize it for that special someone.
3. Glass or plastic jars
You can find jars of all sizes from small condiment jars to use for jewelry size items or big mayonnaise jars to use for those bigger things. Get out some of that old yarn or string laying around the house, spread glue on the jar half way up and start to wind the colored yarn around and around until you can no longer see inside. Then do the rest of the jar. For the lid you can paint it a fun color or glue on a little pom pom. No yarn? Then glue on scraps of fabric or tissue paper. Plus, the glass jars can be decorated using inexpensive glass paint that you can buy at craft stores.
4. Fabric gift bags
For those who can sew (and a simple enough project for anyone learning to sew), the most reusable of gift packaging is fabric gift bags. For some really fun bags, start cutting up some of that worn out clothing and sewing it together into rectangular pieces, or you can purchase colorful fabric (seasonal Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas fabrics are out now!) at large stores for as little as $1 to $2 per yard. You choose the size bags you want and then sew up the fabric on three sides like a pillowcase. I've found a bag that is 18 inches by 24 inches is the most useful for giving everything from clothing to books. Turn right side out put in a gift and tie at the top with some ribbon or yarn. After you give a gift, the recipient returns the bag and you wash, fold and put away until the next occasion.
So keep the kids busy, save some money on wrapping paper this year, and surprise your friends and family with creative and heartfelt gift wrapping.
Diane Boykas is the founder of basicparents.com, which is a parents' place to find lighthearted and practical tips, resources and humor for real life parenting. Visit her site and subscribe to her free weekly "Life with Kids" Tip today.
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