'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves
In the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we will not be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
- Shaker song, 1848, Joseph Brackett
I love to give gifts, but I can't say I've ever been a great gift wrapper. Don't get me wrong. I get the corners square and the paper flat and tight, but I have a hard time thinking of ways to include that "extra touch." I used to stock gift wrap for every conceivable occasion (toddler boy birthday, teen girl bat mitzvah, and Christmas for everyone). This was my way of getting it right. I once joked with my husband that he would miss me if I died and didn't stock so much wrapping paper. He laughed in turn and said he could sell it all and have enough to pay for the funeral.
Gift wrap is like a wardrobe. You not only need just the right dress, but the accessories to match. I skipped bows, ribbon, bags, tissue paper because I never had the right coordinating set for the right occasion. It seemed like too much trouble (and money!) to run out each and every time to create the perfect look. It just required too much stuff.
And then there's the impact of it all. According to earth911.com, Americans use approximately 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper each year, of which 2.3 million pounds end up in landfills. Consider the toxic dyes and caustic printing processes of making the paper. Not to mention the plastic, glitter, metallic inks, ribbons, and bows make recycling impossible. Cringe . . .
+ give consumables (charcuterie / cheeseboard / custom hot cocoa kits) over manufactured goods +
+ give vintage goods that can be repurposed anew +
+ less is actually more with a gift / too many small items "dilutes" the impact of the gift +
+ give experiences (not gift cards for more useless stuff) +
+ use 100% recyclable brown kraft wrap +
+ use recyclable raffia or twine +
+ personalize with found objects such as a vintage key, bell, or wax seal +
+ kraft gift tags that can be hand-written and customized for any occasion +
+ include sustainable elements such as a flower, leaf, or pinecone +
+ creative paper craft (I learned the double kimono wrap (below) which makes every gift more beautiful) +