If you're one of the many who opt for the 'last-minute' approach to the holidays, congratulations! There's still time to add a few sustainable tweaks to your Christmas prep. Read on for ideas about gifting and wrapping.
The goal here is to give people what they want rather than what you think they need—especially true for kids. That said, since knowing what they want takes (ahem) advance planning, here are a few last minute ideas for the rest of us.
- Buy local: Support your local businesses whenever possible. Plus it's nearby and you can get there and back in 30 minutes if the stoplights are in your favor. Click here to read Patch's guide to local gift giving.
- Give intangibles: For the person who has enough stuff, give the gift of experience. Good examples include tickets to a local concert or theater production, gift cards for area restaurants or movie theaters. Maybe a memberships to a museum or favorite organizations, or perhaps lessons in ice-skating, gardening or cooking classes.
- Give cash: Teenagers in particular appreciate the gift of cash. It can be used to buy exactly what they want or need. On the plus side, cash will never expire and will be highly appreciated.
- Give your time: Create your own gift certificates, for family or friends. "One afternoon of room-painting," "30 minutes of cleaning service," or "One home-cooked meal." Another thoughtful gift for someone who has everything.
- Give reusables: Stainless steel thermoses, eco-friendly food storage containers, insulated lunch bags and reusable shopping bags are a few good ideas.
- Give consumables: Fancy teas, coffees, jams, wine, beer and fancy food of almost any type is something that can be enjoyed by many.
This Patch writer is a fan of minimalist wrapping—"suggestive wrapping," if you will. I recently painted canvas bag rolled the bag neatly, borrowed a ribbon from the cat and tied the ribbon around the bag. Voila! The technique preserved two critical gift elements: surprise and unwrapping. Luckily for the cat, the ribbon was returned for further use.
Look at the bigger picture, wrapping paper and shopping bags alone are said to account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the United States, according to the Clean Air Council research.
Here are a few less minimalist (and speedy) ways to ready your gifts for their recipients.
- Box + nice ribbon. If the item's box is plain or otherwise unmarked, simply tying a nice ribbon and (optionally) attaching a bow should sufficiently indicate its gift status.
- Gift bags—paper. The best invention ever, these festive handled receptacles can be found, in all sizes, at supermarkets, discount stores and craft stores. And, plenty of retail stores offer holiday versions of their bags. Tape the top closed, add a bow and tag, and you're good to go.
- Gift bags—cloth. One friend's family has begun relying on infinitely reusable homemade fabric gift bags. If you lack a sewing machine (and time), consider nicely designed reusable shopping bags, holiday fabric, dishtowels, bandannas or pillowcases. And if you want to plan ahead for the coming year's gifty occasions, local and online vendors offer plenty of beautiful cloth bag options, including Wrapsacks and Lucky Crow, to name a few.
- Fabric squares. In Japan, fabric wrappings have long been the norm. The Japanese wrap special gifts in beautiful, and sturdy squares of fabric called furoshiki. Check out this link for 35 ways to wrap various items using the furoshiki method.
- Other receptacles. Give gifts in baskets, tins or jars. Consider wooden boxes from wine shops or supermarkets like the boxes used to package mandarin oranges.
- Re-use paper wrapping. Some wrapping paper is sturdy and beautiful enough to be used several years running, providing that the recipient is careful in opening the gift. If you buy gift wrap, look for recycled paper with the greater post-consumer content.
Merry Christmas, all!