Frugal Friday: Wrap It Up

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As Christmas approaches, more and more people are thinking about what to buy. Gift giving goes with Christmas – but it needn’t cost the earth.

Wrapping paper is a major cause of household waste in December. The UK uses 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year – along with 40 million rolls of sticky tape. Add in a billion Christmas Cards – the equivalent of 33 million trees – and that’s a lot of waste.

The fabulous Ecothrifty set up #CutTheWrap to raise awareness of this wast, providing useful info on  ways to cut down. Here are mine.

Use Hampers

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Hampers  are an easy way to make something seem more expensive than it is – and reduce waste. Use a recycled vegetable box if you have any. Alternatively, scour charity shops for cheap hampers. The hamper can then become part of the present.

Fillings for your hamper can vary but eco options include:

  • Home made sweets, from candied peel made from waste citrus peel to Turkish delight or fudge.
  • Home made jam, cordial, booze and chutney.
  • Home made toiletries.
  • Baking supplies in eco packaging.
  • Herbs and spices in eco packaging (This also helps the recipient cut down food waste year-round by widening scope to use leftovers).
  • Eco hamper with fabric bag, reusable coffee cup, bamboo toothbrush and eco toiletries.
  • Gardening hamper with seeds and garden tools.

It’s easy to tailor a hamper to someone’s hobbies. Bookworms may crave a hamper with second hand books, hot chocolate and a torch for reading at night. Crafters may like a yarn hamper, or a selection of trim and crafting tools. Pick a  theme then get creative.

I usually use shredded paper as a base, both to look good and give a ‘lucky dip’ feel when opening the hamper. It also recycles old documents into something useful. If you want it to look posh, use old magazines to decoupage the box.

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Give Packaging-free Gifts

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You can skip packaging if you give experiences rather than things. Here are a few ideas.

Create memories rather than waste. You can always make a voucher from recycled paper if you want something to give to someone on Christmas Day. Babysitting and cooking or cleaning vouchers may also be appreciated.

Use Fabric Wrap

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A pretty scarf or fabric scrap can look great knotted or tied with ribbon. It can be reused afterwards so it doesn’t end up in landfill.

Make Your Own Decorations

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It’s not just gift wrap that’s an issue. Many people spend a fortune on plastic decorations. Make your own decorations instead. It’s a fun way to fill time and also saves money.

The above wreath was made using an old coat hanger as the base, with some garden cuttings and orange slices I dehydrated then tied with cinnamon sticks. It cost under £1 and took under and hour to make (excluding dehydration time which was about two hours).

I made the below decorations from egg shells, old nail varnish and biodegradable glitter, based on the Kintsugi principle.

Just paint the eggs with varnish (the nail varnish is enough to hold the shells together if you hold the egg in place while the varnish dries), sprinkle with biodegradable glitter around the cracks (or all over if you prefer. The nail varnish acts as glue). Add dental floss loops using more nail varnish as glue if you want to hang them on the tree.

You can also fill these with small gifts and hand them out as an eco cracker alternative – break the egg to find the gift (and ideally, repair afterwards with more nail varnish and glitter.)

Dried poppy seed heads look lovely painted with nail varnish then dipped in biodegradable glitter.

Snowflakes can be made with recycled paper or make a pipe clean fairy for the tree with a few scraps of wool.

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You can also make your own Christmas cards and gift tags from recycled old cards.

If you get creative, you can save a fortune and reduce your household waste. Alternative packaging means there’s less to tidy up on Christmas Day too.

Follow Ecothrifty on Twitter for more eco tips that will help you #CutTheWrap.

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