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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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?
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