It’s a wrap: Cheerful alternatives to wrapping paper

If we’re being honest, the entire concept of wrapping paper is pretty bizarre. This is a multibillion-dollar industry built around the idea that we buy something, cover it up, and let the recipient, in a moment of sheer anticipatory frenzy, rip it all off.

Maybe you’re a wrapping-paper saver. If you are, mazel tov. But for most of us, it ends up right in the garbage. Or if you’ve ever been to a holiday celebration at my house, in the dog’s mouth, which is followed by my dad chasing the dog in circles around the living room to get it back. This all inevitably ends with my father, panting, hands on his knees, cursing the entire idea of wrapping paper.

Which brings me back to the point: Who needs it? In addition to saving money and trees — by some estimates, holiday gift wrap accounts for 4 million tons of trash annually in the United States alone — these tips will help you tap into your inner creative side and add a personal touch to your gift.

1. Newspaper.

This is kind of an obvious one, but don’t make it a last resort. Instead of grabbing Dec. 22’s shopping section, grab something meaningful. Does your kid love the comics? Use them. Is your husband a huge Ohio State fan? Grab the sports section the day after a big win.

2. Old wallpaper.

If your basement looks anything like ours, you probably have the ends of about seven different wrapping paper samples, vestiges from home makeovers of yore. Turn them into a festive front for your holiday presents. They look great, and the “where-have-I-seen-this before?” look on your family members’ faces will make the trip to that scary corner of your closet well worth it.

3. Raid the refrigerator.

Not the insides (though I once got a present wrapped entirely in those foil yogurt tops — for a slightly classier version, see No. 4), but what’s plastered over every square inch of the front. How long can you really keep the kids’ spelling tests up there, anyway? Recycle them! Your kids will get to relive their successes, and you and your spouse can beam with pride.

4. Aluminum foil.

A nice ribbon is all it takes to make this classy, and at about $0.08 per square foot, it’s a steal. Plus it can double as a wrap for all your holiday leftovers. Tada!

What’s your wrapping paper secret?

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