Issy, known to her young family, and her Instagram followers as Mummy Scrummie is a Hampshire-based mum of two and brand rep for Catkin Toys. Every Sunday, Issy will be writing a guest blog feature, covering the parenting topics and issues that interest you! Have a topic you'd like to hear more about? Get in touch!
Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This week, I was chatting away to another mum in the playground about trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, when the subject of this blog came up. The person in question had read last week’s blog (Top DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Children to Make) and started talking to me about eco-friendly Christmas wrapping paper.
After a few minutes of conversation discussing The Scrunch Test, recycled paper and the pros and cons of Sellotape (I know, I really do lead a thrilling life!) she rounded off our chat with “You know, I just didn’t have you pegged as a brown paper person!”
Despite being a slightly bizarre thing to say, I do sort of know what she’s getting at. For some reason, eco-friendly decisions – at least as far as the festive season is concerned – have a reputation for arriving at the party dressed in non-descript beigey-brown and being about as exciting a prospect as spending the entirety of December stranded on a desert island alone with Michael Gove. In short, no-one's idea of a Merry Christmas.
So, this week – as I told the "brown paper” person – I'm going to show you how you can reduce, reuse and recycle your way through your Christmas wrapping, whilst still making it beautiful to look at, lovely to receive and all kinds of Christmassy...
Think outside the box when it comes to wrapping up your gift: you don’t have to use wrapping paper at all; your wrapping can even be part of your gift!
Here, I’ve wrapped one present using a green pashmina scarf and another in a Christmassy pillowcase. Both, I’ve finished off with a ribbon, making these fabric-wraps a completely Sellotape-free endeavour!
If you like the idea of fabric-wrapping, why not make like the Japanese and try your hand at Furoshiki. Furoshiki is an ancient Japanese practice that is creeping back into fashion as a modern and eco-friendly way to gift-wrap.
Furoshiki cloths are square pieces of cloth or fabric, often decorated with beautiful, intricate designs, used for wrapping anything from household items to Christmas presents and the best thing about them? You can reuse and recycle them whenever you need to.
You can watch a Furoshiki video tutorial here.
2. GIFT BOXES
Think inside the box! Particularly useful if you’ve got an oddly-shaped gift to wrap, pop it in a gift-box and Bob’s your uncle! Etsy has a lovely selection of beautiful and personalised gift boxes, but you could also hit up Hobbycraft and make and decorate your own.
3. RECYCLED AND RECYCLABLE CHRISTMAS WRAPPING PAPER
Recycled and recyclable wrapping paper has come a long way in the last few years as more and more high-street stores are developing sustainably-minded gift-wrap lines, making it so much easier (and cheaper) to get your hands on recycled/recyclable wrapping paper.
Shop around and check the label – I bought this green winter foliage design wrapping paper from ASDA; it’s not expensive, but it's very pretty and it’s recyclable.
I’ve found that a lovely way to pimp your wrapping paper is by, using a ribbon, tying on something natural and seasonal: here I’ve added a homemade satsuma star (how-to in last week’s blog) and a wee stick of cinnamon; I also like using dried orange slices or small sprigs of winter foliage.
4. GIFT BAGS
In a similar fashion to gift boxes, gift bags can be a bit of a lifesaver when it comes to wrapping pressies of all shapes and sizes. Fabric bags, paper bags, big bags, teeny-tiny bags: you name it, it’s out there. This beautiful elf bag was made for my daughter by a family friend who is particular nifty with a needle and we use it every year.
As the parent of two small children who’ve both had birthday parties in the last six months, I will never again need to buy a gift bag. If you know, you know; but for those that don’t: when you become a parent you unknowingly sign up for a series of things; one of those things is The Gift Bag Rotation.
The Gift Bag Rotation is the process of giving and receiving any one of about 25 gift bags that will be reused at every kids birthday party, by every single family in your child’s class, until the day you die. I’ve seen the same Disney princess gift-bag in the hands of at least 15 little girls since my daughter’s birthday in June and this brings me to one of the things I love most about gift-giving: reusing materials.
If you’re given a beautifully wrapped present don’t just bung the gift-wrap in the bin; have a look at it and see what you can keep and reuse. There’s absolutely no shame in reusing and regifting packaging and each Christmas Day, when everyone else has fallen asleep watching “The Snowman”, I make myself a hot chocolate and sit religiously picking apart the pile of gift-wrapping, saving and ferreting away ribbons and gift-tags, tissue paper, gift bags and boxes. If I don’t use it in next year’s Christmas wrapping, I know it can always be used in a small person’s craft project!
5. ANY AND ALL PAPER
By far the most cost-effective gift-wrap on this list, it’s what I like to call “any and all paper”. Here, proving it’s not just for fish and chips, I've wrapped in an old newspaper; but you could use wallpaper samples, sheet music, decoupage paper, magazines, baking parchment, children’s artwork: the world’s your oyster.
6. DITCH THE WRAP
If gift-wrapping seems to you to be a bit of a pointless exercise, then why not ditch the wrapping part of the equation completely? Particularly popular amongst those with very young children, ‘keeping it simple’ is a hugely underestimated approach. Show off your gifts by forgoing the wrap and tying them up with a pretty ribbon instead!
7. BROWN PAPER
Last but not least (I had to, really, didn’t I?), it’s good old brown parcel paper. But, as I pointed out to my playground mum friend, brown paper doesn’t have to be boring, it can be an opportunity to showcase your creativity and personalise your gift-wrapping.
Encourage the kids to draw some Christmassy pictures, hand-stamp some ink-printed paper, draw on a bow and ribbon, write out the lyrics to Christmas carol, decorate it with washi paper (another thing we have to thank the Japanese for when it comes to gift-wrapping!); with plain brown paper, you can really do whatever you like to your gift-wrap and in doing so, you’re creating a gift that shows you really have thought about the person on the receiving end of the Christmas present.
Hopefully, these few tips and tricks have encouraged you to eco-wrap this Christmas and to reduce, reuse and recycle as you go. What is your favourite way to gift-wrap? Let me know.
Until next week!