Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas (w)rapping...

I like a bit of Christmas shopping. Especially in Narberth, like this morning, which included a yummy sandwich from Spanish deli Ultracomida (boccata with blue cheese, salad and honey). It was raining, but the staff in the shops were polite and friendly and there was a great feeling of good cheer all around.

The thing I like least about Christmas presents is wrapping the bloody things once you have purchased them. Wrapping one birthday present is short and sweet, but the onslaught of Christmas wrapping is enough to drive a woman to drink.

So, on reading The Observer's Ultimate Gift Guide on Sunday (unobtainable presents for ridiculous sums - except Dan Pearson's suggestion of Franchi seeds for gardeners - genius) I discover Lucy Eco Siegle's comment that 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper ends up straight in the bin.

Ah ha! I think. Do away with the stuff. It can't be burned (poisonous inks, plastic tape etc) so what use is it anyway? You just end up with a heap of ripped up paper (and loads of packaging, but that's a whole other blog).

Then there are gift bags. How has it come to pass that a present must be wrapped in lovely paper (and there are some absolutely lovely wrapping papers out there) but then it must be placed in a BAG? It is already concealed by the paper, so why the bag too?

I know I'm guilty of this - falling for a pretty bag - but it's not exactly eco-friendly is it? Presents just used to be wrapped when I was a kid. Now they're all bagged too. I've just confirmed this with a quick look under the tree. All of the presents except one tiny one are in bags. One bag even yells HO HO HO when it is opened. (A nasty bit of booby trapping that nearly killed me when I was having a surreptitious feel of my present... Somebody knows me well... It was 4am and quite the loudest thing on the planet at the time. I nearly had a heart attack.)

But what would happen if presents were not wrapped? Anarchy under the Christmas tree that's what. Absolutely no element of surprise and they'd all get mixed up because how would you attach the label? I can't see my children liking this much either. Part of the fun is the ripping off of the paper to expose the present beneath.

It's a bit like people really. You might fancy the pants off someone, but if they were walking around completely bollock-naked there's not exactly any element of surprise (which might be a good thing. That's a whole other blog too.)

So what is the alternative? I did think of newspaper, but having recently wrapped a pass-the-parcel in the stuff I know it has great rip-off-ability, but also great ink-transferability and it's not exactly the most attractive option.

Santa might consider just stuffing the stockings with unwrapped presents, but I'm not sure that would go down well with the small people. You'd open up the re-usable eco-friendly stocking (or pillowcase) and see straight away what it contained. No delight in unwrapping one package after another, even if it is only a satsuma.

I suppose one could just put the present straight into the gift bag too, but again there's no oooh-factor in that either.

This has me stumped. Any ideas?


  1. Ah Ultracomidia... I am so going to put in an order for Xmas.

    How about edible wrapping paper? Might make them open the presents more slowly. Oooh, strawbery flavour... ooh, chocolate

    Back to reality . How about tissue paper - easier, cheaper?

  2. Hmm, I know exactly what you mean Mags. I can't come up with an altenative either apart from brown parcel paper which I love. It does involve hours of doodling though to make them look more festive so is not time friendly. Funny blog though! x

  3. French wrapping paper is on the whole thin and crap so that isn't a problem have never heard of bag AND wrapping gawd very OTT. If I use a bag I tossle gift in coloured tissue first so contents are not visible. You could copy the japanese and wrap in a pretty fabric furoshiki or you could be eco friendly and use brown paper and tie them with hemp or raffia as we did in OZ.

  4. Oh yes, I am a rubbish wrapper and hate doing it, as you do when your presents look like they have been got by the dog. I did read about someone who wrapped her presents in teatowels - not sure about that, practical obviously but might be a bit expensive and not too welcome by sons 1 and 2.
    Still, reusable?

  5. Guess I am at the other end of the wrapping divide. I have always loved wrapping gifts, since teenaged years, and find it fun to experiment with various styles as the decades pass by.

    It's fun to get out the vintage tiny indian woodblocks and dip them in some sort of gold paint and print randomness across bright colored tissue paper. Or... recycle something for the wrapping and then paint a card that is a new design.

    Ribbons...save everything you ever receive and add to it. Wired gauze is fun to sculpt, raffia can be shredded in many ways, even old-fashioned crinkle papery ribbons in bright colors have possibilities. And don't ignore what colored string can do.

    Be playful! xo

  6. Oh dear - we've always burned the wrapping paper, ink and all! When the children were the age your children are, we used to make our own wrapping paper with brown paper and "stamps" made from designs cut in half a potato and then dipped in poster paint. That kept them quiet for hours. Gift bags, though pretty, always seem a bit "belt and braces" though they're jolly handy for a bottle of wine . . .

    Perhaps you could get some cheap lengths of colourful cotton material from a market stall and use that? Then you can save it for next year, and the year after . . .

  7. I like the idea of brown paper packages tied up with string...
    I'm with you on the bags. Mine are wrapped AND in bags. But the one saving grace is I never buy bags, I just use ones that have been given to me. They come back at birthdays and Christmas too, so we're recycling them as a family.

  8. Another one here who never wraps AND bags - one or the other, like H@H.
    It sounds like you had a stellar shopping day - I'll head out on Friday and hope for the same luck (and lunch!)

  9. It's clearly a Marmite thing, isn't it - I berludy hate wrapping. But I also hate buying presents. And I'm not too hot on Christmas - In fact, I am a right misery.

  10. I'm a horror I save all my wrapping paper and reuse it! Basically the grown up's paper one year goes to be kids' paper the next and then burnt on the fire to keep us warm. I'm not sure how eco freindly that is but if you take it all too seriously you wouldn't buy anything at all...

  11. How about wrapping presents in all sorts of fabric, left over from making curtains, dress making and other projects. Also sowing little bags later to be used for all that clutter that is accumulated in children's bedrooms, could be an eco friendly idea.
    One year I bought a 100m roll of plain white (or rather cream) recycled paper from Ikea (they do it in the Children's department to go with a drawing board) and just used pretty ribbons ( that can be re- used after ironing) There also is recycling paper availabe form some manufacturers try 3rd world shops ( what ever they are called in UK)


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