Government of New Brunswick

Bright packages certainly contribute something to the mood of our festive occasions, yet gift-giving often ends with a pile of tangled ribbon and torn paper. Those materials ... bought just days earlier ... often have nowhere to go but to the landfill.

With a little creativity, however, we can save money while reducing the waste we produce. Discover the satisfaction of personalizing your gifts by using the materials you have on hand to create unique packages suited to the people who'll receive them.

Gift Wrap

Design your own wrapping paper. Scrap paper or brown paper bags can be decorated with potato stamps, stencils or drawings that reflect your own personality or that of the gift's recipient. The paper can be as elegant or as wild as you want to make it! Or give the decorating job to the children, for a stormy-day craft project.

Wrap presents in whatever bright paper you may already have at home, including the coloured comics from newspapers, advertising flyers, magazine or catalogue pages, old maps and posters, calendar pages, or pieces of leftover wallpaper. For very small items, use those odd pieces of gift paper left over from previous years or use fabric scraps.

One solution to wrapping large, awkwardly shaped gifts is to bundle them in an attractive sheet or tablecloth, with the corners tied together on top.

An alternative to wrapping is to put one gift inside another useful item such as:

  • tea towels or napkins
  • pillow cases or towels
  • bright T-shirts or socks
  • mittens, scarves or hats
  • a tool box
  • a lunch box or bag
  • a jewellery case
  • wicker baskets or cloth totebags
Ties and Tags

Think of reusable package ties as part of the gift, too. Use hair ribbons, belts, or novelty shoe laces. even 'bungee' cords are original and decorative. Or replace ribbons with leftover yarn, or fabric cut into strips with pinking shears.

Instead of bows, try pine cones or a piece of real greenery. Other decorative ideas include home-made gingerbread cookies or dough ornaments, yarn pom-poms, or your own folded-paper figures.

Cut one-of-a-kind gift tags from old greeting cards, or write on the backs of personal photographs or ones of holiday or winter scenes. You can also make tags using scrap paper and crayons, paints, or ink stamps.

Gift Boxes

Decorate the small cardboard boxes which jewellery comes in, or cut your own miniature boxes from light cardboard or greeting cards. Cereal or cracker boxes covered with scraps of wallpaper make attractive and inexpensive gift boxes. Decorate coffee cans, jars, berry boxes, and plastic containers to hold home-made treats.

For larger gifts, save and reuse cardboard boxes. They can be stored flat, and folded back into shape when they're needed, or substitute another type of container you may already have, like a bushel basket or an onion bag.