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 it also:
- 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 items out of the landfill. Which is good, of course – but 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 extended family gifts which usually lasts more than a year.
Are you sensing a theme here? Time, money, and more time – all saved if you adopt this system.
Okay - how much time saved wrapping am I talking about?
All the gifts for our family of four (10 to 15 gifts) are done in about 15 minutes. Really. 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.
Curious? Read on!
How to Create an Easy Holiday Gift Wrapping System
The Gift Wrapping System's 3 Basic Steps:
- Buy or find sturdy boxes with lids and nice gift bags. Examples: a set of 12 gift boxes that don't need to be wrapped, a set of 4 larger nesting boxes, or sturdy gift boxes with lids you can wrap.
- Use high-quality, heavy weight wrapping paper like these examples to cover the boxes and lids separately (when necessary- 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.
- Store all the boxes and coordinating bows along with quality gift bags and tissue from year-to-year in a couple of plastic bins (more on this below).
There are 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 the 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 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
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 for this since they can easily be fluffed up again and again - some of my ribbons are more than 10 years old! This set of 6 neutral wired ribbons will get you started.
TIP 2: keep the tag, too, and try to put the gift for the same person in the same box the next year, or at least 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 which reduces the bulk for storing. 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.
Place the boxes in a large plastic bin with lid (or however many you need) to store in your attic or garage.
Plastic will keep the papers and boxes stored the best without letting moisture inside. You'll want to look for large bins, like this set of large 70-qt. storage boxes with lockable lids.
Note: At this point in time I kept our gift bags in the metal box you see above in our wrapping closet since it wasn't covered. I've since added another small plastic bin for our gift bags and tissue however since it was taking up space in the closet and we only used them once a year.
Updated: How to Save on Gift Tags, too - all year around!
- 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 bought a Christmas pack of wood stamps like these that contained a few phrases, decorative stamps and the important "To" and "From" stamps and a set of ink pads like these. You can also print free tags (like below!) onto sturdy cardstock.
- Make up a batch of simple tags, adding glitter and embellishments if you'd like. Or not.
- 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 little basket in the wrapping closet along with the gift bag bin.
Since I started doing this for our tags, I haven't needed to buy tags in years, which I of course LOVE.
To get you started, here are some free printable gift tags for you! I created a set of Christmas tags that you can print onto cardstock, cut out, and reuse from year to year, just like I do.
Click on the image below to open the file in a new window, then right-click to save to your desktop:
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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