Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Now that November is here, stores are rolling out their Christmas wares in full force. Decorations, trees, bows, Christmas-themed food and drink… and the most expensive, ridiculous thing of all: designer wrapping paper.
Don’t get me wrong: designer wrapping paper can be gorgeous and improve the overall presentation of your gift. But anything more holiday-spirited than plain paper can be unreasonably expensive. It’s not hard to spend more than $10 on a single roll (which never lasts very long).
Christmas is already expensive, so don’t make it more so with high-priced wrapping paper. Here are four creative ways to fend off wrapping-paper-induced bankruptcy.
The worst part about designer wrapping paper is that it’s good for a single use. Why not do something more environmentally friendly and choose a gift package that can be reused?
Reusable gift bags aren’t super cheap, but if you convince your gift-giving group to start using them, you’ll only have to buy them for a year or two, and then everyone will have plenty around to keep exchanging without any more expense. This 25-pack of 8.25″ x 10″ x 4″ plain-colored bags on Amazon is only $22, less than $1 per bag.
Of course, there are Christmas-themed reusable bags, like these burlap gift bags, but they’ll cost you a bit more. They’ll still last a long time, though, so you can use them over the course of several years with your friends and family.
Many stores sell seasonal shopping bags that can serve as a way to package your gift as well. A reusable shopping bag isn’t going to create quite the same aesthetic effect as designer wrapping paper, but they’re cute, festive, and a lot more useful.
There are tons of other great ideas out there. Wrap your present in a light scarf that doubles as part of the gift. Use old scraps of cloth or small cloth bags as packaging. I’ve even seen pieces of cable-knit sweater used to create small bags that are especially festive.
Use Something Else
It’s time to start thinking creatively and using things other than store-bought wrapping paper for your gifts.
Newspaper can be repurposed as wrapping in a number of ways. This gift bag made out of newspaper and a little card stock is a really nice-looking option, and you can always turn a comics page into a goofy wrapping.
Even paper grocery bags can be made into gift wrap! Around Christmas, stores like Target and Trader Joe’s start using Christmas-themed bags. Cut them to the right size and add some string or ribbon to make great festive wrapping paper. And plain brown paper may not look especially Christmasy, but it’s very classy.
You can really use almost anything. Sew Many Ways combined ribbon with some plastic containers to make candy-cane-themed gift cylinders. Inhabitat recommends clay flower pots, which you can find cheap at thrift stores. The Prairie Homestead suggests using multiple layers of old tissue paper.
Print Your Own
It might sound crazy, but you can actually use your own printer to whip up some wrapping paper quickly. If you print more than a little bit, it’ll get expensive quick. But if you only need a bit, it can be a lifesaver.
A quick Google Images search for “wrapping paper designs” comes up with thousands of options that you can print at home. Just load up your printer — thin paper of larger sizes is best — and print out a bunch of sheets. Grab tape and scissors, and get wrapping!
For larger presents, you’ll have to align the sheets and tape them so there aren’t any jarring mismatches, but overall, the project is pretty simple.
It’s always a good idea to be smart about your shopping, but it’s especially important around Christmas, one of the most expensive times of the year. Instead of heading to your nearest department store and picking out a fancy roll of designer wrapping paper, try a few of these ideas for saving some money.
First, head to discount stores for your wrapping paper. Places like TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and The Dollar Store are all good options for finding very affordable wrapping paper. It might not look as extravagant as the designer options at larger stores, but the chances that someone will notice are small. And if they do, they’re more likely to appreciate your thriftiness than scoff at it.
Next, take a good look at what you’re buying. If you do decide to buy wrapping paper, it can be easy to grab the first roll that looks nice, but you could be making a big mistake. A quick look at Walmart’s selection of wrapping paper shows that you can get a three-pack of rolls, a total of 540 square feet, for $15, a little less than 3¢ per square foot.
You can also get a three-pack of foil paper for $15. But it’s only 300 square feet, making it $0.05 per square foot. There’s also an eight-pack available for $10, which seems like a really great deal. But between all eight rolls, you’ll only get 150 square feet. That’s almost $0.07 per square foot. It’s not much of a difference, but it adds up over time.
And when you find a good deal on Christmas wrapping paper, don’t be afraid to stock up if you have room to store it. Stores almost give it away after Christmas, and you can easily get enough paper for the next several years for a few bucks if you time it right.
How Do You Save on Wrapping Paper?
Buying designer wrapping paper for full price right before Christmas is a joke. There are just too many better alternatives, from using scraps of old cloth to hitting your neighborhood discount store. Do you have other ways to not blow your Christmas budget on wrapping paper? We want to hear them!
Do you buy designer wrapping paper? Or have you found more frugal ways to package your gifts? Share your best tips in the comments below!