Create Less Waste This Christmas

by Tammy Taylor

I love Christmas, it’s my favorite time of year.  Especially the tenderness of heart it creates for most people – a little more thoughtful, a little more willing to share.  I love making homemade cookies for friends & neighbors.  And I really love the excitement on children’s faces as their twinkling eyes light up at that perfect gift they had wished for.

One year when our children were younger and we had just enjoyed the spectacle of them ripping into those brightly-colored packages and giggling at the excitement on their faces, I was shocked when I noticed the two huge 32-gallon trash bags that were needed to discard all that trash.  I was further shocked when I realized there were multiple mammoth-sized trash bags behind each & every house in our neighborhood as well. Wow.  Such a short time under the tree and then in a flash – it was trash!

I started wondering about a gentler way to use less waste wrapping techniques.  You know, one where we could still enjoy the festivity and fun colors but could also be easier on the environment.  Every household is different but here’s what we do.  It works beautifully for us…

Low Waste Gift Wrapping. See easy ways to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over. See what works best for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Fabric Wrapping Using Bandanas

The first thing I did was purchase about twenty colorful large-size bandanas.  These are great for smaller gifts.  Often by creatively folding the bandanas they don’t even require anything to hold them together.  (although I often add a curled ribbon or tied yarn for a festive finish.)  These bandanas can be purchased new of course.  But many of mine came from thrift stores or garage sales for just pennies!  My family knows that I consider these our perpetually reusable gift wrappings.  They happily return the wrappings after their gift is opened.

Low Waste Wrap - Bandanas are an easy way to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over. See what works for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Santa Sacks For Larger Gifts

Sometimes the grandbabies gifts are a bit too large to be wrapped in a bandana.  So we have four of these roomy “Santa Sacks” that we often use for their gifts.

Low Waste Gift Wrapping Santa Sacks is an easy way to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over. See what works for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Christmas-Themed Fabric or Tablecloths

I’ve also used printed Christmas fabric or small holiday-themed tablecloths.  They were all purchased very inexpensively, often at clearance sales AFTER Christmas.

Less Waste Wrapping for Gifts. Fabric is an easy way to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over. See what works for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Low-Waste Gift Tags

For the gift tags I use the fronts of last years’ Christmas cards.  I’ll cut out a shape with pinking shears or other decorative-edge scissors.  Then I punch a hole in the corner and write the gift recipient name on the back.  A short length of ribbon, jute or yarn to attach it to the gift and we’re good to go.  I love that some of the super-cute cards can be enjoyed two years in a row this way!

Card Front Gift Labels are easy ways to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over using less waste warpping techniques. See what works for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

The combinations of the different colorful fabrics makes for a beautiful sight under our tree.  After Christmas they are all simply folded and placed in my box of wrappings & stored in the attic until next year.  I haven’t purchased actual Christmas wrapping paper in more years than I can count!

Experience Gifts

Less Waste Wrapping. There are easy ways to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over. See what works for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Of course there was low-waste gifting options that can be incorporated as well. Several years ago our children requested NO toy gifts for our grandchildren. So RancherMan & I opt for experience gifts for them. It’s a wonderful, meaningful way for us to spend fun time with them. And these memories can go with them many years into the future unlike the latest toy soon forgotten.

This year we’ll be taking them all to dinner & a show – a live theater production of It’s A Wonderful Life. How fun… for ALL of us!!  We’ve taken them to the Ft. Worth Stockyards and the Children’s Museum in previous years, but we need some ideas for other fun options. What’s your favorite experience gift for pre-teen kids?

Homemade Gifts From The Heart

Of course RancherMan & I often give homemade gifts.  We love that we’re living our values and these gifts are thoughtfully prepared by us.  In past years we’ve given homemade canned goods, homemade soaps, hand-crafted hummingbird feeders and more (you can read a more complete post with a list of our homemade gift idea roundup here)  These gifts naturally produce less packaging waste.

Low-Waste Gift Basket

Less Waste Wrapping. There are easy ways to reduce the landfill-bound trash after Christmas is over. See what works for us! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Those homemade goodies are often packaged in a gift basket.  We’ll let those jars of home-canned goodness be the bulk of the decoration, maybe embellishing with a single piece of sparkly tissue paper, or maybe a ribbon or repurposed fabric lid topper. The basket is fluffed with repurposed materials we have right here on the ranch for a lovely rustic look.  You can read my low-waste gift basket post here)

What are some of your secrets for reducing excess landfill-bound waste during the holidays?

~TMH~

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45 thoughts on “Create Less Waste This Christmas

  1. Emily

    I don’t like all of the waste that comes with the holidays, either. We reuse gift bags and bows until they fall apart. I’ve saved used wrapping paper and turned it into templates for various projects (like hanging a gallery wall of frames). I also save cards and cut them up to turn them into gift tags. I love your bandana and cloth bag ideas, too! Thanks for sharing with Merry Monday!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Aren’t you clever Emily to reuse the wrapping paper in so many creative ways? Thanks for sharing your tips. ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Katrin

    I absolutely agree about all that waste of paper during the holidays, as lovely as it is to wrap presents, but I am using big fabric bags for my girls presents and they are just as beautiful! So are yours and to use bandanas is such a clever idea! Thank you so much for sharing at Sweet Inspiration this week!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Although I’ve always thought the look of wrapped gifts was beautiful, I’ve never really cared for wrapping. This works so much better for me – inexpensive, reusable, bright & colorful, environmentally friendly. Yea! ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Katy SkipTheBag

    Every year my mom would use some of the same giftbags for Christmas. Seeing them even outside of Christmas time, envokes strong memories of Christmas morning. What a fun, eco-friendly tradition! Thanks for sharing at the Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I love that Katy! Although our family knows to set the fabric wrappings aside to return to us for reuse year after year, we’ve saved and reused gift bags from gifts we’ve received. We use those for those gifts where we don’t expect to receive the wrappings back, such as when attending parties, etc. ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Lisa/Syncopated Mama

    I often grab pillowcases to use like you did your large bags and have used sheets before, too. I’ve never thought of bandannas, though – that’s brilliant and we’ve got a ton from when we camp in the summers, so I’ll definitely be using that idea this year, too!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Love your pillowcase idea Lisa. Isn’t awesome that we can all learn something new from each other? Love it! ~TMH~

      Reply
  5. Kirstee @ This Whole Home

    Some great ideas here 🙂 I tend to wrap in fabric scraps from my sewing room 😉 Thanks for sharing on the Homesteader Hop!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      There are many ways to get around purchased single-use gift wrap, eh Kirstee? I like pulling the plain brown unprinted paper from the interior sections of our cattle feed bags. It brings the lyrics “brown paper packages tied up with string” straight to mind! ~TMH~

      Reply
  6. Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com

    This is such a wonderful way to save on waste! I would like to feature this post tomorrow on the Link-up 🙂 It is brilliant! Keep sharing your great ideas!

    Reply
  7. Julie Corbisiero

    Hi and congrats on the feature on kathe with an e! What a great idea to not use paper and fabric instead! You do save money this way. Enjoy your holidays. Julie at julieslifestyle.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    FANTASTIC post!!! You’re my feature tomorrow for Tuesdays with a Twits @ Back to the Basics. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. Cynthia

    I’m with you about hating to throw away all that wrapping paper. I love your idea of using bandanas. Thank you for linking to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. I look forward to seeing you next week.

    Reply
  10. Shar

    PInned this to my Merry Minimalist Christmas board. Great idea! Stopping over from the Thrifty Thursday link up over at Living Well, Spending Less.

    Reply
  11. Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

    Great ideas! It’s kind of funny… I published a very similar post today! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

    Reply
  12. Mel

    For larger gifts, what about pillowcases? Very often, the bottom sheet wears out long before the top sheet and pillowcases. I often find them at thrift stores, sometimes in pristine condition with hand embroidery because people don’t seem to appreciate handwork any more. A pretty ribbon to tie the top (no need to sew a drawstring) and you’re done.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I love the pillowcase idea Mel – you know KNOW the no-sew is right down my ally. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  13. Linda @ A La Carte

    I really like the Santa Saks! I hate to waste paper so try to use the gift bags several times, but this is even better. Thanks for sharing at TTF!

    Reply
  14. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    Fantastic ideas! I never thought of using a bandanna to wrap presents. Thanks for sharing this at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

    Reply
  15. jody

    I love that bandana idea! You are so right about wrapping paper, it’s so wasteful. When I was little I sold wrapping paper for a school fundraiser one year and my sister and bro-in-law bought a package from me at a very inflated price, so they said they were going to wrap my gift in it every year. And every year I saved the piece they used and used it for their gifts the next year. We just kept taping it up and using it again for the next 23 years until it finally was unusable! They got their money out of that for sure and it was so fun to have our little joke and see the creativity involved in making it last that long!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      OMGosh Jody – I LOVE your family tradition! We have a similar family gift-wrapping joke with a bow, I think it’s probably been going back & forth as long as your paper joke. So much fun! ~TMR~

      Reply
  16. Barb

    These bandanas are so colourful and fun! what a great idea. And, pinking shears can pretty much transform anything. Love this no waste idea for Christmas wrapping, in fact you and your readers may enjoy a post I recently did over at http://www.ritewhileucan.com/wrap-it-up with a similar idea. Hope you enjoy. Visiting via “FlusterBuster” linkup

    Reply
  17. Lisa Lynn

    Awesome ideas! We have been buying recycled paper and then it goes in our wood stove, but I like the reusable idea better. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Lisa Lynn – that’s exactly what I started out doing – brown-paper wrapping tied with jute so I could throw it in the fire – at least it would benefit us with a little warmth that way! I still do that for gifts that will be opened out of town or shipped gifts. Maybe they can use it in their fire or at least recycling is easy since (from what I understand) many wrapping papers aren’t easily recycled. 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
      1. Summers Acres

        What great ideas! Growing up even though we used store bought paper, Mama would open gingerly and fold up to resuse paper that did not get decimated by the kids. We have always saved bows and reused, but I have gravitated away from using bows at all these days. The wood stove would generally get the rest. Another idea using the brown packing paper is that it can be composted. Win, win. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop! Please join us again Thursday for our special edition Christmas on The HomeAcre Hop at: http://summersacres.blogspot.com/2013/12/christmas-on-homeacre.html ~Ann

        Reply
  18. Alison at NOVA Frugal Family

    We currently have a lot of Christmas paper in the basement from a stock up over 5 years ago which we have been using for the kids and I recycle the paper after the holidays. Most other people get the reusable bags that I purchased so that it is considered part of the gift and they can use it for their own shopping. We don’t use as much paper as we thought but I would love to switch to something more reusable if more things stayed at our house. Do you mind giving away your pretty wrapping or do you only use them for family members?

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Well Allison, a little of both. Bandanas are inexpensive so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t get some of them back – but most of the bandanas do come back to me because people know what I’m trying to do. Last year I made and canned apple pie filling for friends & neighbors and it was decorated with a denim cap tied with jute, a recipe card attached. It looked adorable and the decoration was just large circles from clean worn out jeans cut with pinking shears. ~TMR~

      Reply
  19. janet pesaturo

    Thanks for sharing on Backyard Farming Connection. Christmas is always a bittersweet time for me, because, while I love the smiles and gifts, the tremendous waste conjures up images of landfills and baby seabirds dying of malnutrition from eating trash. (OK, call me a Debbie Downer). Really, any ideas that help us waste less are always welcome!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I totally understand that Janet. And the thing is, we can still have the bright colors & festivity, just think outside the box. I’m loving reusable (cloth) wrapping! ~TMR~

      Reply
  20. Heidi @lightlycrunchy

    I like your idea with the bandannas. We have a bunch of drawstring bags that I made years ago and we keep reusing every year, and I do the same thing for the gift tags as you do – it works so well.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I’m so jealous of those who can whip up drawstring bags Heidi – my sewing prowess stretches just barely to reattaching buttons, and not very well at that! I love that you made your own… ~TMR~

      Reply
  21. Erin Blegen

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!! Always looking for ways to cut down on waste 🙂 Visiting from the Homestead Barn Hop, Erin http://yellowbirchhobbyfarm.blogspot.com

    Reply
  22. Julie B

    I do like your ideas. For years now we have been adding to our reusable Christmas bags by making bags like the red and green ones in your photo. Most from 2nd hand material, but some from Christmas colored tea towels. I also like using baskets and red or green storage container , first they hold gifts then they store the Christmas decorations. The colored containers also make it easy to find seasonal stuff next years 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Oh Julie, I would absolutely LOVE to make bags out of seasonal tea towels. (sheesh, even though I’ve read they’re super easy to make, I can’t sew…) I also love the colored containers thing – dual purpose! Thanks for sharing. ~TMR~

      Reply
      1. Robin Willoughby

        The best thing you can do for yourself is LEARN TO SEW! It’s very easy….and there are probably classes near you somewhere.

        Reply
        1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

          Yes Robin, sewing is very easy (especially something as basic as a gift bag) but I *HATE* sewing and anything remotely like it. My mom & grandmothers were very good seamstresses so I’m not sure why I got skipped in the gene pool for the desire to sew. Why my grandmother sewed patchwork quilts well into her upper nineties for (gasp) fun! But at least by using cloth & ribbons I’m able to still accomplish the task of reducing gift-wrapping trash. I’ve even purchased a couple of larger gift bags that someone more talented than myself sewed. LOL ~TMR~

          Reply
  23. Audrey

    I save graded paperwork from my kids throughout the year and wrap some presents in those. It looks really cool wrapped in a crocheted braided ribbon. I also use newspaper, feed sacks, bandanas, fabrics, vintage pillow cases, tea towels, and reusable shopping bags. Lets see….I’ve also been known to wrap with tin foil then secure it with yarn. I will add a big Pom Pom on it. For name tags…I generally cut shaps out cereal boxes and stamp the plain side with a Christmas stamp and the “From: / To:” stamp. I RARELY splurge on Christmas paper. RARELY!!!!! I love new creative ideas! Happy gift wrapping y’all! My family

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Audrey, it oftentimes is just a matter of thinking outside the box… (aaaahhh – see what I did there??? LOL) I love your gift-wrapping ideas – thanks for sharing! ~TMR~

      Reply

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