Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cheap Christmas Gift Wrap Ideas

I buy clearance wrapping paper after the holidays. Sometimes I use newspaper, magazine pages or kids' art for smaller gifts. To wrap food gifts, I got some rolls of clear plastic after Easter, the stuff that you use to wrap up an Easter basket. I buy clearance ribbons after the holidays, though sometimes I use colorful string or yarn for a more dainty look


I always omit the bows and put something different in its place. I like paper toys as a whimsical touch on gifts for kids. A sculptural shape from some pipe cleaners can take the place of a bow. On gifts for women, I might attach a fake flower. In a pinch, I'll use curling ribbon to make a bow effect.


Some other bloggers that I read are doing it differently.

Trent at the Simple Dollar is keeping things really simple with packing paper and yarn.

Amy at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op sewed fabric wrapping paper. This isn't so good for kids who like to tear open paper, but for green-thinking adults, this is a great idea.

Lynnae at Being Frugal has some creative ideas for reusable wrapping paper.

Slugmama explains the Japanese Furoshiki, among other frugal alternatives to wrapping paper.

Amy at Circus McGurcus has a great way to wrap a gag gift with paper grocery store bags.

Stacy at Moderate Means has her gifts under the tree in their cloth sacks.

(If anyone else has recently written a post about wrapping paper, link it in the comments section and I'll add it to the post.)

How do you save on gift wrapping?


Clisby said...

I have not done this in years, but I'm passing it along in case anyone lives in an area with a small newspaper printing plant. At one time I worked for a weekly newspaper, and the printing plant would give away the ends of newsprint rolls. Once the paper was printed, they always ended up with a few leftovers - way too little to be of any use in a print run, but plenty for wrapping.

Moderate Means said...

I did an "easy sew" project for reuseable gift wrap. JoAnn's ran a great fleece sale on Black Friday and I bought 6 holiday patterns, a holiday-neutral boy pattern and a holiday-neutral girl pattern. I decided to make various sizes and cut the fleece into anything from 9"x12" to 24" by 36" pieces (in twos, of course.) I matched up pieces and stitched around 3 sides, leaving the top open, which I then trimmed with pinking shears. We just wrapped everything last night - dropped the items in, tied the bags shut with cord and stuck them under the tree. the fleece gives it a fluffy shape that doesn't reveal the gift and it's no-hem so making them was easy :) After the holidays I'll take the non-holiday patterns and make reusable birthday bags. There was an expense involved in the fleece and cording, but I built it into my Christmas budget and now I'll have gift bags to use for a long time!

I don't have my final pics up yet, but hopefully tonight :)


Krystal- Mommy of 4 said...

I also made cloth bags for Christmas. So much fun!! Kids even had fun picking out the fabric.

Jennifer said...

I too stock up after the holidays- but one advantage to not giving many gifts at Christmas- you don't need very much wrapping paper. So, that paper I stock up on, will last me quite a few years!!

Esther said...

I always save the gift bags others use to wrap presents for us and the tissue paper if it's not torn. We have the storage space for it, so I've kept bags from our wedding, Christmases, baby showers, birthdays, etc. and haven't bought wrapping of any type for years. I choose one of the largest of each type and put the remaining bags for that occasion inside with the tissue paper all together in a separate bag. So for Christmas I check the sets of Christmas gift bags and all occasion gift bags to find the right size and type for the person I'm gifting to.

Stacy said...

I also save all bags and tissue paper given to us if they're in good shape. After Christmas when everything is 50-75% off, I go somewhere like Target and try to buy one or more big rolls of wrapping paper--and I try to find at least one that doesn't HAVE to be for Christmas, like plain red or something, so I can use it all year. Also, I just keep it really simple and often don't use ribbons or bows. I do like raffia if I have it.

Scottish Twins said...

I am using my son's fingerpainting and coloring book pages for some wrapping. I also used leftover fabric scraps for some packages.

Instead of tissue paper in our re-used gift bags, I am using the scraps from our paper shredder.

frugalredneck said...

I too save the bags and tissue paper, and even wrapping paper that can be salvaged. I hate hate hate to buy wrapping paper, Not sure I have bought any (other than used stores, or garage sales) in years and years. I saw a woman last year with nothing but wrapping paper, bags , bows etc. and her total was $79. I am way to cheap for that.

Kari said...

We bought a bolt of red flannel fabric and some ribbon on sale last year and I sewed up drawstring gift bags.

We use them at Christmas and at other gift-giving times as well.

When the big girl gets invited to birthday parties we also wrap those gifts in either a drawstring fabric bag or I sew up a small fabric tote bag.

I scour garage sales and thrift stores for yard goods and also eye clothing in thrift stores as options for yardage. This way I can get fun print fabrics for literally pennies a yard. :)

So our solution is creating re-usable fabric gift bags!

Anonymous said...

two words: DOLLAR TREE!


oceans5 said...

I save gift bags that are in perfect shape. I have a great collection of baby and birthday ones right now. For Christmas I have found that the Dollar Tree has SUPER cute paper. I bought a few rolls from there this year. My rule is no more than $2 a roll however I did break that rule once this year.

Emily said...

I used to keep all of my gift bags, but we got rid of them when we moved. Now, whenever we get a gift bags, Daniel likes to carry stuff around in it, so it doesn't stay in good shape. Maybe I could start stashing those away again.

I like the fabric ideas, and I think that might be something I try when I run out of my current stash of paper. I think I have a sentimental attachment to my kids ripping open the paper, though.

Anonymous said...

I am giving my friends (adults) their gifts in the reuseable grocery bags that you can buy at Whole Foods for .99 I have also seen some cute resuable grocery bags at TJ Max for .79

heather said...

cute ideas!

i'm the idiot with the cartful of wrap and supplies spending a ton of money every year. it's so bad that i buy it at walgreen's instead of walmart even though it costs more. i have walmart issues...but since it's where your husband works-i'll keep them to myself.

i never buy wrap or decorations after the holidays simply because we have way too much stuff in our already cramped small house. and after christmas, the last thing i'm wanting to think about is next christmas.

i have given up on ribbons and bows. with the massive amount of wrapping i do, i never have enough time/energy to actually add the extras. and really it just gets ripped off and tossed away.

i do save gift bags on occasion. that's the end of my wrapping frugality.

so in a nutshell...i stink at gift wrapping and money saving.

Captain Cleavage said...

emily Did you know that you ca actually curl wrapping paper (any paper for that matter) and make ribbons? I do this with the strips of leftover wrapping paper as opposed to just tossing it (not that it really matters since it all gets tossed in the end anyway...but we do recycle so that makes it a little better right..right?!?!?!)

Kelly said...

I'm....not frugal. But I do LOVE the Target dollar section. For the past few years, they have had super cute rolls of wrapping paper with stark, simple patterns (which I also love) for a dollar. They come with a lotttt of footage length-wise, but not height-wise, so if I need to wrap a bigger present I just use two different papers and it looks great. I stock upppp on that stuff. I am also in love with these tags that they've been selling for the past few years- snowflakes, santa hats, trees- all covered in glitter. They are REALLY not frugal, at 2.50 for 10.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a saver of bags, tissue paper, large scraps of wrapping paper. I don't believe I've ever bought supplies. But I usually gift food, gift cards, or money and those don't need much decor if any. I see wrapping supplies at thrift stores from time to time. If I ever have the need I'll start picking up from there. -Cris

Anonymous said...

Hi, Emily!

I love the pipe cleaner art. Very pretty. I have used many of the other ideas too.

In my family we have always tried to recyle gift wrap. We have also always liked one or two really meaningful gifts as opposed to many.

Your children may be a little young for this, but we used to have well meaning competitions on who could wrap a gift in recycled paper with the least tape, who could unwrap a gift with the least destruction, and who could smooth out the wrapping paper best for re-use.

That might sound weird, but unwrapping a gift carefully just prolongs the enjoyment.

I'm all for frugality, but I do have a caution on using newsprint as wrapping paper. Been there and done that. You end up with newsprint smudges on everyone! And it takes a while to wash off.


Sabrina said...

I do many of the things that have already been mentioned like saving bags and tissue paper, buying after the holidays, or stocking up when there is a sale before the holidays ($.77 a roll this year).

I also did some gift baskets and used tissue paper or basket filler in the bottom and omitted the wrapping. Something I did today that I have never done is shredded old wrappging paper to use as basket filler, which means I'll be saving some paper this year for just that for next year. It turned out cute!

Oh, and the baskets I bought earlier in the fall from yard sales. Even the ones that were not Christmas-y, I spruced up with spray paint or colorful ribbons/bows or both. They made for beautiful gift holders without a lot of money involved.

Amy said...

I don't have to buy much Christmas wrapping paper. Maybe a roll every other year or so? Most of our stuff goes into gift bags. I do keep all the ones our gifts come in, and when my husband's family saw me doing that they gave me theirs as well!

When I do have to buy some new wrapping paper or tissue paper I make a trip to the dollar store. I refuse to spend a lot of money on the wrapping paper. I'd rather spend the money on the gifts.

My favorite one this year is a gag gift to my parents. We bought them the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, so I wrapped it up in brown paper bags (free from the grocery store) and wrote FRAGILE and THIS END UP on it so it would look like the crate the lamp was delivered in in the movie. I have pictures of this one up at That's the one that cost the least and I like the most!

Captain Cleavage said...

amy...the leg lamp...that is AWSOME!

slugmama said...

I just blogged about this subject here...

Anonymous said...

I have a huge pile of cloth drawstring bags that I have made over the years. Most of the fabric came from outgrown clothing, stained clothing (used the good parts) or just no-longer-loved clothing so there was no additional cost to me.

They make make wrapping a breeze. I also make them for my kids' friends when they are invited to birhtday parties. The kids all seem to like them and they are kept to keep their treasures in. So, nothing is wasted. It also makes my kids' gifts stand out in the gift pile as they are always the only ones wrapped in fabric.

BTW, I love your blog. I try to read it daily.
-Mary Alice

Melissa said...

I enjoy the kids ripping paper apart so I'm not much of a saver. I buy Christmas paper on sale after Christmas but just bought some full price. Any bags we are given I keep for reuse, most people I know do this. Bows are annoying to me but my Grandpa just gave me a huge box of bows and ribbon to last years.

Minn said...

I buy the wrapping paper every other year or longer after the holiday is over. We don't but that many gifts so a couple of rolls last a few years. They're usually about $1.50 per roll. I SELDOM buy any holiday wrapping paper for more than that.

Tara Maureen said...

I can't wrap a present to save my life. All mine turn out like my 2 year old wrapped them. Although I do like the dollar tree wrapping paper, I'm so hard pressed to find any that does not have Santa on them. We don't do Santa and at this point in time I don't want to confuse my child about him so I don't allow images of him in our home. Now for something off topic:

Emily, I'm compelled to share with you some insight that God has given me. I believe in the five fold ministry and am "Holy Spirit Filled" but I have passed judgement against you unfairly. I believe that God communicates with me through my dreams. I dreamt about you yesterday. God showed me how I had judged you and showed me that A. you really are doing what is in God's plan for you and your family and B. that you are a very genorous, kind person who walks with Him. He showed me that I was wrong. Sometimes it takes God giving me a "break check" to realize that some of his people are just a wee bit on the crazy side. For my sin against you I am truely sorry. I really do enjoy your blog, and I am glad to know that you really are doing what God has set out for you to do.

Carla said...

On Christmas there is nothing better than ripping that paper off presents :). I actually found myself short on gift bags; I think Mom kept all hers last year. I buy after Christmas. I got 6 rolls last year and that should last a few years at least (even with the kids playing with it and making their own presents :) ). I"m not overly creative, although I'll do some up like candy because the kids think it's cool ;). We stuck to under $100 for the kids this year, all things they will love! We used to spend hundreds for each kid but we couldn't afford it. We now only spend what we can afford and I know how to make a dollar stretch between coupons, sales and being in the right place at the right time! (ok, this could of gone under a different blog post but I thought I'd stick it here).

Kat said...

Wrapping paper is ridiculously cheap if you buy it at the dollar store (which I do in a pinch), but I try to avoid this for environmental reasons. Things I've done in the past:

1. Cut up a paper grocery bag, and decorate it (stamps or hand prints)
2.magaine pages ( usually a theme, a favorite celebrity or politician--Obama paper has been a big hit)
2. the classic newspaper comics has a certain kitschy appeal
3. Purses! For women, I'll pick out a pretty (usually quite large--vera bradley or vera bradley style seems to work perfectly, I've found them for around $10-20 at consignment shops, which seems like a lot for wrapping, but in this case the wrapping is a big part of the gift itself! I've also found cute bags at Meijer or target 70% off or more (which makes them just a couple of dollars). You could also use tote bags, whcih most grocery stores have for about $1.

Anonymous said...

We don't give presents on Christmas, but instead do our gift giving on the traditional St. Nicholas day instead, reserving Christmas as a celebration of Christ's birth and family togetherness. But we do still put our presents under our Christmas tree, which goes up the day after Thanksgiving.

However, we don't wrap anything. We only have two small kids right now, but plan to continue this as they get older and our family gets larger. Eventually we will probably have to do name tags for the gifts, but our kids are close enough in age that we've just bought gifts they can enjoy together for under the tree, and individual gifts have been small enough to go in their stockings.

daphne16 said...

I too do the fabric bags, I stitch the ribbon to the outside of the bag in one spot so I don't lose the ribbon in the chaos of opening gifts. If I am out of ribbon or can't find it(bought at Walmart during 90% off sale years ago for pennies) I use scrap yarn. Also in Christmas colors for pennies at Walmart.

I also save bags and bows from gifts given to us. Christmas cards make great tags if you just use the front (these are ones mailed to us the year before) I use a hole punch and string it onto the ribbon.

I have also used kids artwork, though ds2 won't allow that anymore because he is afraid it will get ripped.

I have also been given large end rolls from I believe a printshop or design place (not quite sure, but it is not newsprint) from MIL's boss because they were going to be tossed and he thought my kids would enjoy drawing on them. They do and it makes great thick wrapping paper.

Happily Frugal Mama said...

In addition to bargain wrapping paper, brown paper and raffia, and recycled gift bags... we also use the children's artwork. Grandparents especially love receiving packages wrapped up in this one of a kind paper!

Blessed said...

I really like the idea of the cloth bags--very cute! And they will save so much money and landfill space in years to come. But for those like me who live in a really small space, saving those bags may be harder. I already do something similar: we have both solid red and white pillowcases (vintage, with the beautiful embroidery on the edge) and so these work great for "wrapping" gifts--esp. those odd-shaped things--and look so festive with a big red or green grograin ribbon bow at the neck, yet are usable the rest of the year too.

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