Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wrap it up ...

The U.S. Postal Services recommends that packages be sent out no later than December 15th to ensure that all those green gifts (you did go green, right?) reach their destination on time. Even if your packages are staying local, you'll probably be thinking about wrapping soon. So here are a few tips on boxing, wrapping, and sending those packages in a earth friendly way:

  • Many gifts don't need to be boxed at all. Things like books, games, tool boxes, etc., can be wrapped as is.
  • Make the box part of the gift ... for example, a tin bucket makes a great container for garden tools. Giving kitchen items? Wrap them up in a roasting pan.
  • Use cereal, pasta or salt boxes ... just give them a good shake to clean them out.
  • Check under your bed ... I'll bet there are some previously used boxes from years past under there.
  • Check with shoe stores ... many of their containers get recycled or tossed out.
  • Need to add some packing inside the box? Rather than use those Styrofoam "nuts", which are totally bad for the environment, try using popcorn (popped, hold the salt and butter), peanuts in the shell, or hard candy (wrapped). Recycled paper also makes a great filler ... as do rolled up t-shirts or socks.
  • Got maps lying around? They make great, colorful wrapping paper ... and if care is taken, they can be folded up and used as ... well ... maps. Here's a fun idea ... use a bright pen to "map" out some fun places for your recipient to visit.
  • Make the wrapping part of the gift. Dish towels work beautifully ... as do colorful scarfs. Ties can be used to "tie" up the package instead of a ribbon. For kids gifts try cute T-shirts, shocks or knitted hats.
  • Use leftover wallpaper or drawer liner.
  • Instead of a bow, how about a compact fluorescent light bulb. Now there's a bright idea.
  • Speaking of bows, look out your window for package decorations ... a sprig of holly, a cluster of pine cones or a display of winter flowers. Your yard may be a treasure trove of beautiful ornaments.
  • Check the library (they sometimes toss out or give away items), thrift stores and Good Will for books and magazines. Look for ones with colorful pages and interesting patterns ... and use them as wrapping.
  • Do you get catalogs or holiday fliers? Look closely ... they may be the perfect holiday paper.
  • If your house is like mine, you have a few pillow cases around that seem to have lost their mates. And who wants to put mismatched pillow cases on their bed (oh how gauche). Use these as gift bags ... and if they are a little too big ... trim them down.
  • Need gifts tags? Cut them out from the Christmas cards you received last year. Another idea ... use old photos and write on the back of them ... not only will you be reusing an item which has probably been sitting in a drawer, you'll be passing on wonderful memories.
  • FGX is a shipping company which is undertaking a year-long effort to make its operations greener. And that's not all ... they promise to get your packages to their destinations in a faster, cheaper and greener way. Check them out at .
  • Plan ahead ... I've read that using ground transportation is more environmentally friendly than using overnight services. It's a lot cheaper, too!
  • If you're giving gifts to friends and family close by ... hand deliver them. Who knows ... maybe you'll get a hot cup of cider or mulled wine for your efforts.
And finally, these ideas:
  • Keep any boxes you receive for future use.
  • If you use ribbon, regardless of the package size, measure out enough to wrap around an average box ... perhaps a shirt or sweater size box. That way, your recipient can save it and use it again.
  • Carefully remove paper ... and reuse it.

"Wrap it up" green and it'll be a very bright Christmas!

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!