The Repurposer Takes on Gift Wrap

A show of hands: Who writes their shopping list on the back of their phone bill? Saves the rind from a heel of parmesan to flavor soup? Uses a hole-y sock to dust furniture? Puts dried out herbs in mesh bags and throws them in her underwear drawer as a cheapo alternative to sachet? (Okay, that one might just be me.) In this day and age, though, haven't we all become just a little bit savvier about wringing every possible use from the things we have around the house? Like an egg shell carton? Anyone with kids can tell you 42 entertaining ways of using one on a rainy afternoon. Along those lines, is it still a secret that instead of the toys themselves, most babies prefer playing with the boxes that they come in? Since the holidays are fast upon us, today's installment in the Adventures of the Repurposer is, ta-da, wrapping paper. Wrapping paper is my nemesis and our High Noon is Christmas. Those of us who relentlessly recycle can have a trying time during the holidays. All that beautiful shiny or sparkly or hand-made paper ripped to shreds. Why should something so pretty be tossed away without a second thought? I wouldn't be the Re-purposer if I didn't squeeze at least one more use out of all that paper. And if anyone says I'm being cheap, I toss my hair, turn up my nose, and say, "At least I care about the environment. Not like some people I know." Anyway, I know I'm not the only Re-purposer around (Kudos to my friend Cynthia who used her kids' doodles to wrap my birthday present) but for those who have yet to exercise their own powers of holiday paper recycling, here are some ideas:

  • Wrapping paper is pretty easy. First, (hard as it might be) try to resist grabbing the gift from a child's hands. But once you've secured the paper, you can put wax or parchment paper over it and iron gently. A bit of steam helps. This should remove the creases. If you can't salvage the whole paper, cut out shapes or a strip to wrap around plain paper like a ribbon.
  • If you're giving DVDs, why not wrap them in take-out menus from your friends' neighborhood? Nothing says snuggle under the covers like a movie and pizza delivery. For the budding impresario, a gift wrapped in old sheet music is perfect. (Trust me, if you haven't mastered "Chopsticks" by now, it's never going to happen.)
  • Your favorite recipes photocopied onto paper can wrap cookware for the baker in the family. Someone who's a big reader? Why not use several fonts on your computer to print out some beautiful poems or quotes to gussy up plain, recycled paper. (And if you're feeling particularly adventurous -- tea stain it to make it appear old.) Food color works with tissue paper (use an eye dropper for interesting batik-like effects.)
  • Newspaper always works but it can leave you with inky ?ngers. A trick: Iron it with wax paper which will seal the ink. (To add a little joie de vivre, buy a foreign newspaper from your local newsstand then, for example, wrap French perfume in a French-language paper. You get the idea.)
  • My mother makes fabric bags -- some remnants quickly whip-stitched together. (Time not on your side? Iron-on tape is brilliant. Then tied on top like a pouch.) My mom then embroiders or beads the bags which makes them beautiful and unique. The fabric idea is great, if time-consuming, because they then become a keepsake in and of themselves. (And, the work required keeps my retired mother out of trouble.)
  • And don't forget your garden. A dried flower, twig or leaf makes anything prettier.

Okay, that should get you all started exploring your own re-purposing power; This superhero needs a bit of recycling herself. Or what her friends like to call "a nap." How do you reuse gift wrap? Tell us!