December 12, 2012

Liz Swafford: DIY gift wrapping alternatives for Christmas

Want to give a more thoughtful Christmas gift this year? Do you need a more creative way to wrap your handmade gifts? Or do you simply want to save a little bit of money on wrapping paper, decorative tissue paper and multi-colored gift bags?

Here are some alternative DIY (do it yourself) gift-wrapping ideas that are of course eco-friendly, too, from our recycling center’s YouTube Channel named after mascot Recycling Ben. Go to www.youtube.com/RecyclingBen, and then click on Reuse It Fridays to see step-by-step videos for each DIY project listed below.

• Newspaper comics as gift wrap and bow: You’ll need several pages from the newspaper comics in color, which usually print on Sundays, a pair of scissors, tape and glue. Make a newspaper bow by cutting at least eight strips of newspaper half an inch wide. Gather them up and fold in half to mark the middle of the strips. Get one strip, put some glue or a piece of tape in the middle where the fold is. Bring the ends of the strip to the center; press down on tape or glue to make a bow shape. Continue adding strips, taping the ends to the center, alternating the location of each.

Add some depth and bounce to the daisy newspaper flower by adding some curled newspaper strips. Wrap your gift box with the pages from the comics using tape. Cut the paper to the right size, or tape multiple sheets together for larger boxes. Tape the bow to the wrapped box and add a gift tag. Old maps and even magazine pages will work too.

• Wrap gifts with T-shirt Furoshiki style: Make part of your gift the gift-wrap by using a Japanese bundling technique called Furoshiki. This can be done with any fabric, towels, blankets, napkins and even T-shirts. When using a T-shirt, the key is to fold in the collar and sleeves to make a square shape. Measure the shirt so that each side is equal; you may need to fold up the bottom of the shirt as well.

Place the gift, either loose or in a box, in the middle of the shirt. Get two opposite corners of the square, bring them to the center and tie a knot. Then, get the other corners, bring them to the center above the first knot and tie a square knot or double knot. When grabbing the corners to tie the knots it’s OK to pull out some of the excess fabric like the edge of the sleeve to help make the knots. Adjust the fabric as needed to make sure the gift is hidden and the knots are sturdy.

• Decoupaged tin cans for organizing at home: This video has general instructions for decorating a tin can to be used as an organization container in the home. However, this technique may be used to decorate any type jar, container or box from your recycling bin that you can use to hold a Christmas gift. You’ll need a clean tin can, jar or box; scrap papers like tissue paper, Christmas cards or decoupage papers; Mod Podge or glue; paint brush or other applicator for glue; and decorative items like glitter or buttons. You may also need scissors, small bottle caps and a hot glue gun.

Tear scrap and tissue papers into small squares, about a quarter to half an inch wide. Mix a variety of coordinating colors and textures for a more interesting look. Apply Mod Podge or glue to the outside of the container, then place paper scraps on top. Continue to add glue and paper to the container, alternating the colors of the paper. When covered, add another layer of glue to the whole container. Sprinkle some glitter on the container and let dry. If needed, also decorate a lid with the same scrap papers. When dry, add a ribbon, bow or other decorative item. Enclose your gift and add a gift tag.

These are just three DIY ideas for wrapping your gifts this month; of course, there are many more. For example, you can also use paper grocery bags, kid’s artwork, reusable shopping bags, baskets or other large containers to hold multiple small gifts, and glass jars. If you know how to sew you can make your own gift bags from old clothes and fabric scraps. Gift giving over the holidays can be stressful, but it can also be greener and maybe even waste free when you take just a few minutes to reuse packaging in a creative way.


Liz Swafford is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or email lswafford@dwswa.org.

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