We take shopping for wrapping paper seriously. We feel that it contributes significantly to gift-giving occasions, enough to spend money on a product that will, essentially, get used once and thrown away.
While we often “settle” for free or bargain-priced secondhand wrapping paper, we choose new wrapping papers carefully, not only for economy, but aesthetics—we only buy patterns we really like. Because of this, we become particularly attached to a few patterns. For example, we had a roll of Christmas paper with a Victorian theme, featuring a cherubic blonde child that bore a striking resemblance to Aly as a toddler. After the paper got used up, we preserved a small piece of it in Aly’s Christmas journal.
I’ve spoken before on the transitory nature of beauty (see Develop Healthy Attitudes Toward Your Belongings). While I continue to feel that transience enhances beauty to a certain extent, I will try to preserve that beauty when possible. Usually, that means carefully unwrapping gifts, and setting the paper aside to use again.
Recently, I dug through our wrapping paper to find a wrapper for Michelle’s birthday gifts. I found a pattern that we all really like, used for years until only one largish, well creased and taped piece remained.
I had already chosen a box with a separate lid to hold the gift. I realized I had just enough paper to wrap the two pieces, making a gift box in the paper’s pattern.
This little trick came in handy on that particular birthday. My gifts to her included several items with identical shape. These had to be ordered through the mail, so they trickled in over a couple of weeks. After her birthday, each time one or two arrived, I would pop them into the gift box, and hand it over to her. One piece of wrapping paper accounted for about 5 gifts for one occasion.
This strikes me as a great idea. If we find wrapping papers we really like, why not preserve them longer by wrapping gift boxes to use repeatedly?
This isn’t an original idea at all, not even in our family. Years ago, my dad decorated the box of a gift for Aly with a wallpaper sample. When the package arrived, and Aly removed the postal wrapping, I felt a gut-punch rush of nostalgia and emotion. Mom and Dad papered one wall of my brother’s and my bedroom with that design when we were children. He and I chose the pattern, and we loved it dearly. What a special gift to all of us, a gift for Aly contained in a box decorated with special meaning for me! We have used that box for appropriately sized gifts ever since.
From here on out, we’ll make a point of wrapping boxes with any wrapping paper we particularly like. We will do this early in the roll’s “life” rather than waiting until it’s almost gone, so the paper will be in better shape, and we’ll have enough to do the job properly. In this way, we will preserve patterns considerably longer than simply using once and throwing it away.
Of course, this raises the issue of storage in our tiny cabin. Rolls of paper store more compactly than a collection of boxes. This means we’ll have to choose our boxes carefully. Hopefully, many of them will be nestable when not in use!
From a frugality standpoint, this will not save much money, even over the long run. However, it adds value to the purchase, just like reusing calendar art (see Repurposing Old Wall Calendars) which seems like a good thing to do in this use-once-dispose-and-replace age in which we live.