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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
It's a Wrap! Wrapping Paper Alternatives, Furoshiki & Frogs

Five minutes after all the presents were opened last year, were you surrounded by wrapping paper clutter?  Did you spend painstaking hours trying to get a present wrapped just right, with the side flaps (somewhat) even and the bows just where they ought to go, only to find your family had turned into paperniverous creatures of mayhem? 

Even if you also participated in the madness (you just knew there was an iPhone in there!), you probably felt a little queasy about the square miles of forest that went into momentarily hiding the identity of your gifts.  There's another way.

As I've admitted before, Paper Doll isn't the greenest blogger on the planet.  And while my pal Kermit    says that it's not easy being green, there are ways, if you keep an open mind, to accomplish three things at once:

  • Have festive, attractive (or at least serviceable) non-paper holiday gift wrap.
  • Reduce that mean old carbon footprint and protect the environment a bit.
  • Solve wrapping conundrums that formerly yielded messy, crumpled, adhesive-lumped blobs.
If that last benefit seems odd, then you're probably one of those people who generally wraps everything from surf boards to vacuum cleaners with equal and impressive panache.  Paper Doll is pleased to have you as a reader, but is a little envious, as I'm all thumbs (and not the cute "thumb-people" kind you see in the AT&T/Samsung commercials). Let's just say that I'm lucky my best friend's little boy looked past the mountains of Scotch® tape and rough angles of my miserable attempt to hide a stuffed lion in wrapping paper.  Readers, it wasn't pretty.

The coolest alternative to wrapping paper comes by way of Japan, direct from our friends at Recycle Now.  It's Furoshiki, the Japanese art of gift wrapping.  If you're wondering how two wine (or sparkling cider) bottles like this:

could be transformed into something as nifty as this:
  pop over to view this video. 
Go ahead.  You'll probably need to watch a few times.  Don't worry.  I'll wait.  Come back when you're ready.

Nifty, eh?  You can find more instructions on how to do Furoshiki at the Japan's Ministry of the Environment page, and videos here and here.

Sigh.  But maybe viewing these instructions and videos made you feel as klutzy and all-thumbs as I did when I watched that popular Japanese video on folding t-shirts.  If that's the case, don't worry, there are still environmentally-friendly wrapping options for people like us:

Deck the Halls with Aluminum Foil--It's shiny.  It's smooth.  You can make it crinkly if you want.  It form-fits to whatever shape/size you're wrapping, and you often don't even need tape.  Add a ribbon, colored twine, stickers, a blown-up balloon (or multiples) and you've got a surprise star from the drawers of your kitchen.  (C'mon, they sell wrapping paper that looks just like aluminum foil.  Why not go to the source?)  When you're all done, you can use the foil to scour your oven racks and other amazing things.

Go On a Map Quest--Although companies sell recycled maps as wrapping paper, why not dig through your glove compartment, your travel bag and your I'm-going-to-scrapbook-it-someday pile of vacation memorabilia of subway maps and recycle your own collection.  Think big--old road maps that predate the Eisenhower Highway System.  Or think small--maps of new grocery stores, malls or museums.

See You In The Funny Papers--At best, you were going to recycle Cathy and Dilbert anyway.  Why not give them another life as holiday wrapping?

Find the Writing On The Wall--Or you can at least make use of the wallpaper.  Do you have bits of wallpaper, shelf paper, Kraft (butcher) paper or any other decorative or craft-oriented paper that's going to waste?  Call upon your arts & crafts skills, or let the kids paint, crayon or doodle a masterpiece.

Bang the Drum--When something is too oddly shaped to wrap the wrapping around it, contain it instead.  A clean coffee canister or cookie tin works great for "hiding" the true shape of a gift, and you've got a make-shift percussion instrument after the unwrapping is over.

Put a Little Bounce In Your Step--Lidded, opaque Rubbermaid® tubs (Get it? Bounce? Rubbermaid? ) are already colorful and perfect for disguising the shape of large gifts.

If It's Good Enough For the Cow--Smaller gifts can be nestled inside real or faux leather boxes  like this one from www.OnlineOrganizing.com.

Don't Lose Your Marbles:  Fabric Gift Bags--Remember those nifty little bags for holding onto your marbles?  You can buy them or make them yourself. Or, pretend you've time traveled to the Little House on the Prairie days and use a decorative pillow case tied at the top with a ribbon. And don't tell me you've never heard of people re-using those oh-so regal Crown Royal bags for everything from masking tiny presents to corralling Scrabble® tiles.  Sure, doesn't require Furoshiki methods, but you'll be wrapped and on your way!

Don't Forget Fabric GIFTS--Who's to say you can't wrap a gift in a gift?  Take your heavier, more solid gifts and wrap them them your choice of a second, fabric gift: a silk or wool scarf, pashmina, baby blanket, or colorful beach towel.  If the main gift is big enough (think: bicycle or sled), how about wrapping it in a comforter or sleeping bag?

Rejoice In Holiday Reruns--You can always reuse the least-wrinkled wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, bows and ribbons from last year.  However, if your willingness to "go green" doesn't extend as far as re-using wrapping paper from holiday to holiday, at least save the scraps for your nearest arts & crafts pal to use for decoupage, paper māche, scrapbook page borders, or origami...which brings us back to where we started, with Japanese solutions to our wrapping paper problems.

Kermit would be proud.  And with that, I think it's time to    wrap things up.  Please use the comments field to share your favorite alternatives to wrapping paper clutter.

posted on: 12/9/2008 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 12/9/2008 11:34:50 AM:

Proving that great minds think alike, the fabulous Jeri Dansky has also just blogged about green wrapping options, and the nifty thing is that we didn't have a single suggestion in common. Look at the Organizing Blogs blogroll on the right side of this page (scroll upward) and click on Jeri's Organizing and Decluttering News to see what she picked!

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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