Despite being so commercialized Christmas time still brings that holiday feeling to many people. There is something magical in the air, especially if you wake up on Christmas day and see that Mother Nature dressed everything outside your window in a snowy white fur. That’s what happened to us last year and I look forward to the White Christmas in Vancouver this year too (although it’s hard to imagine that with the cold, cloudy and rainy weather we were having here lately).
I was thinking that with all this commercial buzz around Christmas holidays, presents, we forget how to be creative. The store windows are decorated with snowflakes and display Christmas Sale signs two-three months before the event. Isn’t it crazy?! No wonder people are getting so stressed during this holiday season that’s supposed to be all about celebration of joy and life. So we end up rushing through the stores, looking not for that perfect gift, but ANY gift that catches our eyes or the one that tacky salesperson manages to outsell for us, then we’re off taking the presents to the store’s wrapping station and at the end of the day feeling so exhausted but happy to be carrying bags full of wrapped presents only to start the same race again the next day because we forgot to get presents to a couple more people on our shopping list.
After all that how can you blame people for refusing to buy and give any presents on Christmas? “Christmas is not about the presents”, they say. And I do agree with them, but on the other hand who doesn’t like to get presents? And how often do we just buy something nice to each other for the heck of it? So personally, I do like the holidays and the gift giving traditions associated with them. What I don’t like is that overpowering mercenary approach of the business world that kills creativity and joy of giving.
Add to that the tons of wrapping paper that end up in the wasting basket and those still green Christmas trees that end their gloomy days next to the garbage bins.
So these last few days I’ve been browsing for some innovative and creative ideas on gift wrapping and presents solutions that are still beautiful and functional yet earth-friendly. Even if you’ve already done your Christmas shopping perhaps you could still benefit from some of the tips below on wrapping and gifts for future occasions.
Creative Wrapping Ideas
I was thinking about substituting the wrapping paper with the beautiful cloth, and then I found out that in Japan it is already an old time tradition to present gifts in a wrapping cloth called “furoshiki”. The Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan has even posted a PDF guide on using cloth for wrapping gifts to cut down on wasting the paper that’s used for gift wraps. To get some ideas, check out the Flickr picture on how people are using Furoshiki to wrap their presents.
2. Real Simple
The website of the popular magazine Real Simple has posted many simple solutions to creative wrapping. The sources are limitless: anything from a child’s skipping rope or ponytail holders to tie the gifts, pretty dish towels to present the wine bottles, old newspaper, calendars or maps to wrap the gifts and re-purposing the old greeting cards for gift tags. It’s also worth checking some out-of-box ideas on wrapping books as presents and easy gift bags as an alternative to gift boxes.
3. Gift Wrapping With Kids
What can be more fun than getting kids involved in the festivity? You can use craft white or brown paper, or even brown grocery bags. Kids will enjoy stamping or painting the paper, sprinkling it with the colourful sparkles or writing special messages in one-of-a-kind truly handwritten typefaces, making the wrapped gifts especially memorable.
This is how I’m going to wrap my presents this year – get my daughter to show off her abundance of creativity. Last week me and my family went to the best office Christmas party ever. Rather than celebrating it at one of the busy Downtown restaurants it took place at the house of the friends of our company. Their big living room was perfect for hosting a party for less than 20 people. One of my colleagues has brought many plain brown Christmas decorations made from a thick recycled paper, paint in several colours, brushes and sparkles. The coffee table was turned into a craft table and everyone was having a blast making their own unique decorations. Of course, my daughter has enjoyed it the most and impressed everyone with her artistic talent, while I was so thrilled that I didn’t have a hard time to keep her happily occupied in the company of adults.
As you can see the common theme in all these ideas is re-purposefulness, re-usability and uniqueness. The gift bags and furoshiki can be re-used for future presents, before throwing away the last year’s wall calendar why not use it to wrap your presents, dish towels come handy when drying dishes and ponytail holders will decorate someone’s long hair.
Innovative Gift Ideas
For those of you who is still looking for some last-minute Christmas shopping, check out these interesting gift ideas:
1. Go Green Gifts
Inhabitat.com has published Green Holiday gift guide under $50. I was really impressed by some of those stylish and sustainable presents, like handmade Recycled cassette coin purse from an Italian artisan, Solar powered sun jars, SIGG Aluminum Reusable Water bottles, Vintage record snack bowl, and my favourite item on their list: Lumen Oil Lamp that projects a nature-inspired design on the wall.
2. More Earth-friendly gifts
Washingtonpost also featured some worthy to check eco-wise gifts like Gaiam Smart Power strip
that allows you to save on electricity by designating a main device, like a TV, that turns off the power of peripheral devices, like DVD or VCR players, when the main device is shut off. Have you ever been left with the discharged cellphone, batteries in your digital camera or MP3 players, wishing to find a plug somewhere on a street? Well, now you can do that with the Hymini portable wind-powered charger, that is so small it can be attached to your arm while you’re jogging, or bicycle’s handlebars, and charge your devices with the breeze.
3. Open Source Gifts
Finally, for all your geeky and techy friends, family members (or even yourself) how about presenting some Open Source Hardware Gifts :-) Like this MintyBoost USB Charger Kit v1.2 for charging your iPod in a DIY way, or High-power TV-B-Gone Kit that turn TVs off from 100 feet away, so that you can finally shut the loud TV of your neighbor across the street ;-) Or if you would love to have an open source MP3 player but can’t find it, how about making one with this Daisy MP3 player kit? Are you tired of depending on Digg users to get some diggs? Then you would love to have your very own Digg Button for only $15 – “a very simple beginner electronics that teaches how to solder and program a microcontroller”.
Hope you enjoyed this small Christmas guide. if you’re up to more laughs, check out Simonne’s warnings on choosing presents. But if you like some more tips for a socially responsible Christmas be sure to check Peter’s post about it.
I’d love to know what are your thoughts about Christmas, shopping for presents, how do you wrap your gifts, and what would YOU like to get for Christmas?