Save on wrapping paper

Gift Bags

by Joyce Moseley Pierce

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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.

Christmas Morning

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

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