The Lazy Mother’s Guide to Giftwrap

Part three in an ongoing series.  I promise, the next installment will not be holiday-related.

            Say what you will about ordering gifts online; for those of us who dislike shopping, it is the greatest invention of the internet revolution.  Stores are bad enough, but stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas?  If, perhaps, you can put up with the crowds, the chintzy Christmas trees, and the salesclerks in Santa hats, you are a better soul than I am.  If you enjoy the continual auditory assault of “Jingle Bell Rock,” you are probably slightly mad already.

            What gets me most at the mall around this time of year are the fake wrapped gifts.  Stacked up under trees, strewn about the display windows, alluringly spread on checkout counters.  We all know those boxes are empty, people.  We are just not that stupid.  As I dart around women made three times larger by heavy winter coats that they insist upon wearing inside the store and fourteen shopping bags, I wonder: Just how much good could we do for the environment, just how many trees could we save, just how many chemicals could we not produce, if stores simply eliminated the fake wrapped gifts?

            I like to do my holiday shopping (for children, because you know what I do for adults) from the comfort of my own home.  There are no trips to the post office because the packages are shipped directly from the warehouse to the people receiving them.  Yes, there are resources spent to ship the gifts to the recipients, but at least they are not first shipped to a store, where I buy them, and then shipped again to the child.  I could buy the presents and hand-deliver them, but these days that would require a trans-Atlantic flight.  Talk about time- and resources-consuming…

            So, I click away.  I am actually too lazy to think up gifts on my own, so Zachary makes suggestions.  Our nieces are getting a lot of pink this year.

            The online ordering does have its snags.  There is a lot of packaging.  And, if you are willing to pay, say $2.99 to $5.99 extra, they will actually add more packaging for you.  Really.  I just opt for the free gift message.

            But this is a post about how to be lazy for the environment, not cheap.  So, in addition to forgoing the gift wrap at, I skip it here in my house.  Yes, that’s right.  The boys got seven nights of Hanukkah gifts (remember, one night was charitable contributions) without *gasp* any gift wrap. 

            So, here is what I propose.  Instead of spending days on end wrapping gifts for the holidays, just hand them their gifts.  Or, if they cannot take that, use old newspaper.  Or, if they really want something shiny, use reusable gift bags.  Make sure you use neutral ones, because you are going to want to use them again for all those birthday parties.

            Lest you think I am a scrooge who can sit back in my Christmas-less household and fail to see the joy of a tree stacked with gifts, let me tell you that there is one Christmas tradition that I can totally get behind.  Stockings.  Stockings make perfect sense to me.  You buy them once.  You fill them up.  You reuse every single year.  And, unless you are a total glutton for punishment, you don’t have to individually wrap each gift that goes inside.  I like stockings so much that I have, on occasion, tried to convince J that we should have them.  Not in December, because that is too Uncle Tomish for me, but maybe another month.  February can use all the cheering-up it can get.  And maybe not stockings.  Maybe we’ll fill mittens or something.    

            There are those people for whom gift-wrapping is an art form.  People who express themselves through silk-screened, homemade paper and ribbon they wove themselves from the flax growing in their backyard.  If you are one of those people, far be it from me to suggest you give up your art in the name of environmentalism.  I totally get the redeeming value of art, a subject for another time.  Suffice it to say, I would not have told Picasso that the studies he did in preparation for painting Guernica were a waste of paper.  If you raise gift wrapping to an art form, go for it, my friend.

            But slapping some shiny red paper on a box just to watch it get ripped off again?  Surely you have something better to do with your time.

19 responses to “The Lazy Mother’s Guide to Giftwrap

  1. I like your ideas. Being someone who is very low on the agility scale, wrapping things is not only physically obnoxious but rather silly, considering that what’s inside is what counts.

  2. My brother and sister in law have never wrapped. If toys are made in Santa’s workshop, why would they be wrapped? And my uncle insists that all of his gifts are wrapped in newspaper, just as they were when he was a boy. We’ve always wrapped….it makes for a longer stretch on Christmas morning, and we enjoy trying to guess what is inside the boxes. I imagine we still will, but I appreciate your points, certainly.

  3. I have started slowly integrating sewn bags into my wrapping repetoire. We reuse or regift them each year, and I make them out of the cheap holiday fabric you can get at any fabric store.

    My goal is to be completely paper free in four Christmases. But – it is a PAIN IN THE A** to sew them if you are all thumbs like me.

  4. Paper free. I am behind that idea. No fake gifts…also behind that. They are also safety hazards and child naughty magnets.

    I reuse gift bags…love that. Our friend circle had a good laugh when we realized that one girls’ birthday bag had made a complete circuit. Also love stockings. Am not a fan of wrapping.


    It will happen. I will use bags, but it will happen.

    A. I hear enough about &^% and do not want to hear any more (my mood worsens with each day closer to the 25th…I’m sure Jesus would love that).

    B. It is my husband’s penance for not doing anything towards the buying or choosing of gifts.

    You can’t ask me not to torture my husband just a little here, right? LOL

    I would buy sewn gift bags.

    Using My Words

  5. Oh, Amen to this. My mother-in-law has dozens of boxes in her spare room. The excess makes me sick, but the wrapping is like, well, like the wrapping on the box of excess!

    My mother never wrapped presents that were from Santa Claus. Unfortunately, that doesn’t account for much or for many years.

  6. exactly…what is with the insane excess packaging?? and the exorbitant price of gift wrap. (thanks for reminding me by london association that i need to get pressies for my family there!)

  7. I love on-line shopping – but I cannot believe the packaging…

    Happy shopping and clicking!

  8. I was knitting little bags for everything but OY yeah that’s work

  9. amen, sister. wrapping…oy. the waste. the planet must weep.

  10. How about buying a brightly decorated pillow case (or using one you already have), putting gifts inside and reusing? Little presents could go in a resusable “treasure chest:” a decorated box from a craft store or a shoe box.

  11. i admit i wrap stuff. but santa doesn’t wrap anything. does that count?

  12. I’m with you!

    Though I already wrapped some of my gifts. Not all though. Some just have a ribbon around the box, that can be reused in art projects.

    What really p’o’s me off is all the packaging and those $##&*(^$ stupid wires that hold the toy in place. That is the only thing I hate about Christmas morning.

    Stockings rock too!

  13. I’m all about recycling – I reuse wrapping paper and ribbons. And then I reuse them again. And sometimes I do things like incorporate the yarn tied around a package into a hat that I’m knitting. But my favorite? All those sheets of newsprint covered with tempura that come home from school in the name of art. They make GREAT wrapping paper.

    I love Jen M.’s idea – making sewn bags of cheap holiday print fabric.

  14. This year I’ve discovered wine bags – not just for alchohol! I needed something less enormous than the standard stocking but bigger than those titchy ornament types and found myself looking at all of those lovely (and inexpensive!) wine bags. They are fabric and so can be re-used more than a paper gift bag, they come in gorgeous (and often non-holiday related) colors and they hold a surprising number of things. Here in the states Target has lots for under $4 which is as good as a gift bag.

  15. I wrap, but I do not spend HUGE amounts of time making sure the paper is perfect, just for it to be ripped clean from its inhabitant immediately. I see your points though, and theya re good ones. I love stockings too–I wish that it were all reduced to a stocking full of whatever could fit, and that was that. Think what time and effort and money we could all save ourselves. We might actually be able to enjoy the time of year *gasp*
    I do however, really enjoy wandering the stores watching the people rush around, I listening to the music, coffee in hand….it isn’t the season for me until I wander around a couple times..and of course hear Jingle Bell Rock a few hundred times! Hehehe. Have a great Winter/Holiday season! Thanks for the visit to my blog!

  16. I do 90% of my shopping online. I can’t stand going into a crowded store. I always recycle gift bags from years past until they fall apart and I also use some homemade cloth bags from scrap pieces of material or clothes on their way to becoming rags.

    The pillow case idea (from niobe) sounds great for bigger items! I will have to remember that one!

  17. I heard a statistic lately that all of the paper used to wrap Christmas presents alone is enough to wrap a bow around the earth….twice. Crazy!!!

  18. I hate wrapping gifts. I am a bag junkie. I save and reuse the bags.

    Last night, I told hubby I want my own Menorah. He is no longer phased by my crush on Judaism and did not even bother to answer.

  19. Right on sister! 9 days until Christmas and I haven’t wrapped a single thing! Don’t know if I will!