Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping - Homespun Holiday Fun

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How do you feel on November 1st when the stores unroll their holiday glitter, bows, and colorful wrap? Well, for me, it's kind of a mixed bag. After all, what happened to Thanksgiving? And I can't help but think of the landfills and a simpler time, when packages came wrapped in brown paper or other materials. If you share my sentiments, then here's an eco-friendly gift wrapping project to try that uses brown paper and tags, twine, metal stencils, colored pencils, and washi tape for color. Last updated December 3, 2016

Color image of our friend decorating gift wrap at Christmas for eco-gift wrapping project. Image by Stefan Routh.
Color image of our friend decorating gift wrap at Christmas for eco-gift wrapping project. Image by Stefan Routh.

This blog post began at the kitchen sink, where I seem to spend most of my life. The window above it lends a peaceful view of house sprinkled hills covered with numerous fir trees and a sampling of deciduous trees, which are now showing off their fall foliage - minus the lone palm tree. One morning close to Halloween I was doing the dishes while dreaming of Appalachia, as this area deceptively reminds me of those older mountains.

My mind drifted off to pumpkin carving and children at the door eagerly awaiting their candy. I conjured up an image of what the seasonal area in our grocery store would look like the day after Halloween, most of the candy and Halloween paraphernalia gone. And then it dawned on me. Tomorrow, the shelves and isles will be full of Christmas wrap, Christmas bows, tinsel, and all of the seemingly necessary items needed for colorful gift wrapping.

Oh the horror of it all, I thought, as the music from Jaws lingered in my head. It doesn't have to be this way. I will fight the beast of Christmas, and I will prevail!

So here is my humble attempt to create a more meaningful eco-friendly gift wrapping experience while sharing a project with friends and their children. Notice the bowl of popcorn - a completely necessary element.

Eco-friendly gift wrapping

I had an idea a while back of using stencils to decorate brown paper. We used grocery bags along with brown packaging wrap. Determined to find materials other than plastic, I found metal stencils along with Lyra Unlacquered Colored Pencils, which Waldorf schools use. I love the shape and feel of these pencils, perfect for small hands. However, they were a little thick for using with these particular stencils. Lyra also makes slim lacquered pencils, or you could also use paints.

Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh
Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh

Take a look at our friend's lovely handiwork. The thick Lyra pencils worked with the holly stencil, which lacks the small spaces of the other two templates.

Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh
Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh

I'm sure most of you are familiar with washi tape, but did you know that it's made from biodegradable plant materials? These natural fibers are sourced from the bark of the gampi tree, mitsumata shrub, or mulberry. But washi tape is most commonly made from hemp, rice, bamboo, and wheat. Besides being colorful, washi tape is also repositionable.  What I don't know is if the dye in washi tape is any safer for the environment than the dyes used in wrapping paper. So, I have another interesting research project for the future and will report back to you with the results. We used a lot of washi tape. Brown paper just screams for color.

Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh
Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh

And lastly, I found simple brown gift tags for adding that finishing touch. My son had more fun decorating the gift tags than any other part of the project. He used bookoodles of washi tape, but stamps and stencils would be nice, also.

Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh
Image Courtesy of Geoff Routh

More Helpful packaging information

After doing some research on transparent tape, I found a new version by Scotch called Scotch Magic Greener Tape, which utilizes over 53% plant based materials. The dispenser and core contain 100% recycled plastic. This tape is available online and in stores. And even though the following information may come a bit too late to help with your packaging and shipping needs this season, check out this company, ecoenclose, which specializes in Earth-Friendly shipping solutions. Their package sealing tape, which is completely plant derived, biodegradable, and renewable, offers an alternate solution to plastic packaging tape.

The Ninja Doge, my son, insisted on being my photographer for this eco-friendly gift wrapping event. So, he didn't make it into the photos. But everyone, including the adults, welcomed the creativity of this engaging project - a diversion from hectic holiday activities.

Do you have any holiday craft projects you wish to share? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below.

Laura