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Here’s the first clue: be sure you have a high table or counter on which to complete this process. If you start wrapping on an area that’s too low, you are guaranteed to end up with a backache and that’s no fun.Next, make sure you have everything you need on the table before you start. Finding out that you’ve run out of tape just as you have that one unwieldy package at a critical moment can be extremely frustrating.
Decide what each gift is going to need in the way of bags, paper, cloth, ribbon, tape or other materials and get it together in one place.
If you are trying to have a “green” Christmas or Hanukah, decide on your green materials before you ever touch the first present. Most people have heard of wrapping with brown bags—ugh! Please remember that this is supposed to be a festival, not a wake.
It’s fine to use brown bags but try to do something to jazz them up. Even brightly colored twine or last year’s ribbon would be a help. Some people add pine cones or berries from their yard or even a sprig from the Christmas trees.
Another green idea is to use the comics from the Sunday papers. Kids will not only have a gift to enjoy but can have a joke to read beforehand.
I recently read that using bowls either from your kitchen or a yard sale are excellent green choices. You can just tie a ribbon around the bowl if you don’t care to give someone a surprise or you can cover it with cellophane. A third option is a colorful tea towel or cloth calendar in which to wrap the bowl. This is a nice option for goodies from the kitchen or for cooking utensils like measuring cups or a mushroom brush or apple slicer.
The easiest option is to bag all your gifts and fluff tissue paper in the top. If you do this, find a way to indicate the name of the recipient other than to use the tag that is attached to the handle. That way the recipient can use the bag again—recycle, recycle, recycle! Some families have used the same bags for many years using this process.
Remember to look around in your garage, attic or storage shed to see what bags you have left over from last year. They really do very little good if you don’t come across them until Easter!
Suppose you have an odd-shaped item that won’t fit in an ordinary gift bag. Remember that you can now buy flexible bags that will enclose even a large item like a bicycle. If the original bag is too large, just cut it down and tape the edges. Attach a bow if you want.
My advice is to never pay more than $1.00 for any bag. That means shopping at a $1.00 store, buying at the after Christmas sales, or just using $1.00 use-forever shopping bags that are available in many stores this year. The last option gives two gifts to the person, the one inside and the shopping bag. (And don’t forget to remind people to wash even the recycling bags because serious germs can accumulate in them!)
Decorating the packages can be lots of fun too. Not only ribbons, but other items can be included on top. Small dolls, silk flowers, tree trimmings, toy cars and trucks, small stockings with some money inside, bookmarks, and many other items can be tucked into the ribbons to make each package special.
Adding a tag to your package can be a way of recycling too. Just cut tags from last year’s Christmas cards. Fold them over and write your message inside.
Bookmarks can easily be made from cards you’ve received too. Craft stores have scissors that cut in patterns too; these are inexpensive and can make the edges of your tags and bookmarks a bit fancier.
Don’t make gift wrapping a chore. Put on some Christmas music and have the entire family involved. (News bulletin: this is not a “Mom only” job!) Stop and take a break to have hot chocolate or spiced cider after the first hour or so. Let this become part of the holiday traditions for your family.
After all, this should be the most wonderful time of the year!
Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing.
She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter, Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University.
Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students.
Sue writes “Uncommon Sense,” a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of “Seven keys to a sucessful life”, which is available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.
SectionsArts and Leisure
TopicsChristmas activities, Christmas gifts, Christmas Shopping, Clarksville TN, Family Traditions, Getting ready for Christmas, Green Christmas, Hanukah presents, Packages, Presents, recycling, Wrapping gifts
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