Save money and a LOT of time with this easy gift wrapping system for wrapping your family's Christmas gifts beautifully while keeping trash out of the landfill.
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Do you stay up to 2 am Christmas Eve wrapping presents?
Or spend hours wrapping all.the.gifts.?
Do you buy loads of paper, ribbon, tags and bows at the after-Christmas sales only to see them end up in a recycling bin or trash can the next year?
Well, that was my life during the holidays for a number of years.
Until I developed this simple gift wrapping system that saves time, stress, and money - and still results in beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree Christmas morning.
I LOVE this gift wrapping system and how much wrapping time it saves me each year- but I also love that it:
- Saves Money. As in LOTS of money over the years because I don’t need to purchase paper, bags, bows, or even tags.
- Keeps Wrapping Things Out Of The Landfill. Which is good, of course, for the environment – but it also saves money on your trash bill.
- Saves Time Shopping. After I accumulated the boxes and paper to reuse each year, I haven’t needed to buy all the stuff I used to buy each year at those end-of-Christmas sales. I only need a roll of paper for the stocking gifts and some bags for extended family gifts.
- Beautifully Coordinated Gifts Under the Tree. You don't have to do this, of course, but it's one of the things I appreciate.
Are you sensing a theme here?
Time, money, and more time – all saved if you adopt this system.
Okay - how much time can you REALLY save wrapping?
All the gifts for our family of four (10 to 12 gifts) are done in about 15-30 minutes.
There still are gifts like stocking stuffers and family exchange gifts to wrap traditionally, but the main wrapping is done and out of the way.
UPDATE: I've gotten some questions about how these coordinated boxes and bags look with our Christmas tree - here's a picture of our tree and gifts in our farmhouse:
You'll notice some of the boxes are covered differently than in the earlier photos - just because you have a system doesn't mean you have to keep something you don't care for anymore. When I got tired of purple, I phased it out over a few years as I found another paper I liked better.
Curious how to make this amazingness work for you? Read on!
NEW! Gift Wrapping System Video
How to Create an Easy Holiday Gift Wrapping System
The 3 Basic Steps
1) Buy or find sturdy boxes with lids and nice gift bags.
Find a few gift bags you love that are in multiple sizes for items that would be hard to put in a box.
You can collect boxes with lids of many kinds and simply cover them with wrap using this simple tutorial to wrap a box with a lid.
Spoiler: I do both! Find lots of different sizes and styles, just make sure they all work together (I go more into detail about this in the video!)
2) Use high-quality, heavy weight wrapping paper.
Choose patterns you love because you will be seeing them for years. I like to use paper that will stand the test of time like this gold selection. When usually when the box has a logo or doesn't coordinate with your decor). Use this short tutorial on how to permanently cover boxes and lids.
3) Store all the boxes in a large plastic bin.
Include coordinating bows along with quality gift bags and tissue from year-to-year in a couple of plastic bins (more on this below).
And the 2 rules needed for this system to work:
- Coordinate the papers and boxes to look good together and go with your decor to get beautiful results. For example, I don't use red in my holiday decorations, and no Santas. No judgement, just what we do!
- All of the boxes and bags need to stay "in house" - these are not the items to wrap Aunt Tillie's gift with (poor Aunt Tillie, she gets the gift bag we got last year with the red Santa on it...).
How to Start Your Gift Wrapping System
Note: you don't have to have all your boxes ready at once (unless that's your goal), just start accumulating boxes and paper you love over a number of years, and permanently cover them as you get them, storing from year to year.
Year 1: (this will take the longest time - see it as investing in the future!)
- Gather sturdy boxes with lids and nice gift bags (if you sew, you can create fabric gift bags for larger items, too).
- Wrap lids and boxes separately, if needed (some holiday pre-printed boxes can be used as-is).
- Add coordinating tissue or even a gold lame fabric like the photo above, tulle, or other pretty fabric to make the gift even more special.
- Put the gifts under your tree as usual, but tell your family to keep the bows together and that the lids come off. Otherwise they may just start tearing the paper before you know it!
- When Christmas is over, gather up the boxes, bows, bags - and even any tags you can reuse to store together.
Years 2, 3, and On:
- Add boxes and bags as needed to create a system that works for your family so you don't have to shop for anymore.
- Wrap your new gifts each year in the appropriate-sized boxes and bags, re-tying the bows and even reusing the tags - this is the 15 minute part!
- Continue to save and store your boxes, bows and bags from year-to-year and reap the savings!
How to Store Your Gift Wrapping System
NOTE: I go into more details about this in the video, so watch it if you can!
Make it super easy to store and re-wrap each year by keeping the coordinating bow and tissue INSIDE the box from year to year.
TIP 1: Wired ribbon works best since they can easily be fluffed up again and again - some of my ribbons are more than 15 years old! This set holiday-ish wired ribbons will get you started.
TIP 2: Keep the tags, too! You can even try to put the gift for the same person in the same box the next year, but I always reuse the tag - this saves even more time. We made some beautiful tags one year and we get to use them over and over instead of just tossing them.
Place whatever small boxes will fit inside larger ones.
This reduces the bulk for storing, allowing you to fit everything into one bin (which should be your goal).
A couple of small boxes fit into this medium-sized box pictured above.
Fit those boxes in even larger boxes that can hold them.
Basically, try to fit all the boxes you need in the smallest space possible. It's like a puzzle fitting everything in!
Place the boxes, along with any tissue, tags, and bags in a large plastic bin with lid.
Plastic will keep the papers and boxes stored the best without letting moisture inside, whether you store in an attic or garage.
You'll want to look for large bins, like this 30 gallon size bin with a lockable lid.
Update on photo above: When this picture was taken, I kept our gift bags in a metal box in our wrapping closet since it wasn't covered. Now I can fit all our tissue and bags in our one bin, which you will see in the video.
How to Save on Gift Tags, too - all year around!
Here's how to save on tags - both money and the headache of writing them out every year:
- Buy different sizes of shipping tags and a few stamps with ink pads (shipping tags are usually cheaper than craft store tags). For example, I have a Christmas pack of wood stamps like these with some individual letter stamps to make "to" and "from" along with a set of ink pads. You can also print free tags (like I'm offering below!) onto sturdy cardstock.
- Make up a batch of simple tags, adding glitter and embellishments if you'd like. Or not - do what you can!
- Reuse the tags from year to year for your immediate family and quickly stamp any new ones needed each year (it takes only about a minute to do 10 tags).
Keep all the tools you need for wrapping (scissors and tape) and labeling in a small container that fits in your bin (see this in action in the video).
Since I started doing this for our tags, I haven't needed to buy tags in years.
To get you started, I've created a set of printable gift tags you can download for free!
Click on the image below to open the file in a new window, and right-click to save to your desktop. Print onto heavy cardstock, cut out, and reuse every year like I do.
Before you know it you, too, will be taking only a few minutes to wrap beautiful presents for your family that look fabulous under the tree, saving money and keeping stuff out of the landfill!
Let me know if you adopt this system - it's really changed my holiday stress level and I hope it does for you, too!
This article is part of the 8 Weeks of Christmas Ideas series where you’ll find resources for cooking, gift ideas, time savers, recipes, traditions & more all November and December through the 24th.
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