Old paper, new uses

Every September, when the kids bring home a stack of textbooks from school and a teacher’s order to put covers on them, I take out the brown paper grocery bags and get to work. An hour later, there is a stack of books all tightly and cleanly covered on the dining room table. I recall Eli once saying, with a touch of wonder in his voice, “Mom, this is your secret talent.”

Grocery bags, and other sources of discarded paper, make mighty nice gift wrap too. Last year, I wrapped some small gifts by turning the printed side in on two squares of paper from bags and sewing up three sides. Then I inserted the gift and sewed up the fourth side, with scrap paper appliqués. I tied them up with fancy string. This year, I might go totally green, and use bits of twigs instead of the colored paper scraps for embellishment.

Jodi Anderson, who keeps the blog Daybook, wrapped gifts this year with the brown packing paper she found in the box her husband’s new saw came in. She used long lengths of yarn in place of ribbon.

credit: Jodi Anderson, 2011

And if I had a lot of outdated sewing patterns, I might steal Lisa Brainerd’s method for wrapping the items she sells and ships through her Etsy store. In January, I received a plain brown box in the mail from her.  Opening my purchase was as satisfying as the item (a pin) itself.

first surprise: pattern paper

second surprise: a purchase, wrapped like a gift, and bonus acorn

third surprise: more pattern paper!

final surprise: the thing itself (alongside the bonus felt acorn with a real cap)

4 thoughts on “Old paper, new uses

  1. We’ve been wrapping everything in brown paper bags, too. Then, I let my two year old color all over them. It’s a great activity for her, plus it gets her involved in the gift giving, and each gift looks unique!

  2. I recall my kids coming home from nursery school with wrapping paper they had made with brown paper (from a roll) and printed with circles made by the end of a toilet paper roll dipped in paint and lines made by string dragged through paint onto the paper.

  3. One of my favorite things about etsy is that it feels like old-fashioned shopping when all the packages were wrapped. Not every etsy seller wraps their purchases, but many do, and I love it! (It’s also nice when they add a little bonus present.)

    • So true about the etsy packaging. Just got something in the mail from a jewelry maker in Denmark, and she included a handwritten ‘love’ note. (Love to the customer, but still.)

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