Use Christmas wrap to build family traditions and preserve special memories

My Story: Special Christmas Wrap

contributed by Donna

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Our family does have rules for gift opening like taking turns, unwrapping carefully, and saving wrappings for use later. A bonus is that this can be great family story time if you are creative with the Christmas wrap. Use a map from that summer's road trip, especially if you were farsighted enough to do some of your shopping while on vacation there. When the present is unwrapped, spread out the map to retrace your trip. Make a point of buying only high quality wrapping paper, only once a year, and only if it is very special.

For instance, when we went to Australia, we bought Aboriginal art paper (like high-end wrapping paper here) and wrapped all that year's Christmas and birthday presents in it, having bought most of those presents while there. That was five years ago and we still use that paper. It always starts a conversation about the Alice Springs Cultural District and the amazing didgeridoo and clapstick musicians we enjoyed there.

My husband's family has been saving wrapping paper for decades and we still use "Grammy's favorite botanical paper" though Grammy is long gone. The paper often starts stories about her various gardens and special way with blooms, even though the paper is, of course, creased, wrinkled and starting to fade. The family has developed ways to wrap and tie presents using absolutely no tape, which takes a little practice at first but even my 7-year-old can do it now.

We have explained to our children that sometimes people outside the family don't understand about re-using wrapping paper, and that they would be happier if we wrapped their gifts in new paper or in cloth bags. We do have a selection of cloth gift bags made over the years by different family members. We also use bandanas and scarves to wrap gifts, which are, of course, part of the gift.

Certainly, re-using wrapping or making part of the gift serve as wrapping is thrifty. However, it also can serve as a way to think more fully about the recipient, to let them know you were thinking of their particular interests, and to keep family stories alive for the younger generations (my kids know the favorite flowers of a gentle great-great-grammy they never got to meet).

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

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