Who else loves the holiday season? Gathering family, friends, and food together in your gaily decorated home is great. The cream on the cake is that it's also a time to show love by giving and (hooray!) getting presents. Just make sure to share your love with the environment as well as your near and dear. As well as planning energy-efficient Christmas lighting installation, wrap up your gifts in green ways that reduce waste and still look lovely. Here are 9 tips.
1. It's always a good idea to start by getting your supplies organized. Dedicate a craft room or kitchen drawer for green gift wrapping and decorating materials.
2. Open traditionally wrapped presents with care; fold the paper, save, and reuse. If there are any small tears or creases, cover them with a (recycled-content) adhesive gift tag. And of course, you'll want to grab all the ribbons, bows, and baubles for your collection as well. Smooth paper and ribbon with a turned-off steam iron right after you've finished pressing your laundry. What's a steam iron, you say? Er ... try flattening your present pretties under a stack of heavy books, instead.
3. When purchasing new gift paper, the ideal is to go for 100 percent recycled, with a high proportion of post-consumer content, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Look for non-toxic soy-based ink, while you're at it.
4. Fabric is more durable and forgiving than paper. Purchase precut sheets of dedicated cloth wrap or premade gift bags. Alternatively, take this opportunity to use up some of the fabric remnants that some of us (ahem!) may have been hoarding for the past year. Are your scraps too small to cover a present? You can try your hand at patch working -- or cut them into unique, colorful ribbons or glue-on appliqués.
5. Use -- and reuse -- pretty plastic or paper bags … tied with a gorgeous recyclable bow, of course. Small to medium repurposed cardboard boxes will also do the trick. Enhance their appeal with decorations which are both pretty and practical. Add excitement to a child's present, for example, with a mini chalkboard gift tag.
6. Give presents that double as packages. Think a trendy tote bag, handy tool box, glamorous jewelry case, or homey recipe file, to give just a few suggestions. Tuck a loving message or a tiny surprise inside.
7. Speaking of tiny, scaling down your gifts this year -- in terms of the amount you spend as well as their physical size -- will serve two admirable purposes. Not only will you need less wrapping material, but you'll also save a chunk of change that can be donated to the worthy cause of your choice. And that's the true holiday spirit.
8. Garnish your green gift packages with eco-friendly decor. If you're a scavenger at heart (or your kids are), fill your gift supply drawer with pretties to be reused, whether from your own home or found at garage sales. Vintage buttons are a treasure trove (thread them onto your recycled ribbon or yarn ties), as are bits and pieces of costume jewelry -- lone earrings or cufflinks and inexpensive "gems" that have fallen out of their settings. Other decorations could be odds and ends of rickrack or other sewing trim that are too short to use on clothing.
9. Love nature walks? Keep your eyes open for goodies like fallen bird feathers, pinecones, maple keys and other seeds, porcupine quills, or unusual pebbles to save and add. They may be cherished even more than the gift they embellish.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.