Get Wrapped Up in Christmas


This Christmas get wrapped up in the spirit of giving by putting yourself into your gifts. It’s not only what you give but how that makes it fun, and for pennies you can make your gift wrap as creative as your gift. You can use gift wrapping either to disguise your gift or to give a clever clue to what’s inside, and even to express your feelings for the receiver.

Be different. Why should you go to the department store and buy the same wrapping paper as everyone else when you can look around you and discover original ways to recycle everyday items to be used as an exciting new wrap? You can even make your gift wrap something useful that won’t be discarded Christmas morning.

Above all, make the wrap a part of the gift and part of you. Give of yourself—that’s what really wraps it up at Christmastime!

1. Here’s a lunch “pail” for your lunch pal—a forever-brown-bag made of muslin with stencil-sprayed letters and full of lunch for two. Of course that includes you.

2. Send a message in a bottle—a message of friendship. Gifts in a bottle can include a peanut man full of peanuts, a gumball machine (your little brother can start his missionary fund with the proceeds), or an avocado plant kit complete with seed, bottle, and growing instructions. A bottle sprayed with enamel is also a great disguise wrapping for a scarf or pens or pencils and makes a beautiful vase or paint brush holder all year long.

Speaking of vases, paint an old oil can with bright enamel and fill it with shampoo or bubble bath to make an elegant gift. When the shampoo’s gone, the can’s just the right size to hold a few delicate weeds.

3. Promises, promises—these you’d better keep! Elbow grease is always a nice gift when you’re on a low budget. Give a gift certificate, but make it original. Promise a car wash on a sponge, quilting time on a ball of yarn, or a week’s worth of bedmaking on a tidy little paper bed.

4. Give that back-to-nature food lover some homemade granola in a burlap bag. (Put the granola in a bottle to keep it from sticking to the burlap.) Punch holes along the top of the bag to thread the rope through. You might also give an oven shovel or cutting board topped with honey, cheese, jerky, raisins, and a bow. You might also give a diet-conscious friend a basket of fruit.

5. And for the gourmet chef—an herb sampler! Pack the herbs in film cans or even pill bottles that have been sprayed and labeled. Then tuck the containers into a bowed basket. For the personal touch you can grow some of the herbs yourself.

6. Home-cooked goodies can be made ahead or baked fresh for Christmas day. Wrap a hot loaf of bread with a big bright bow. Add a calico cap to a jar of fruit. Make a missionary happy by tucking his or her goodies into a brightly spray-painted egg carton (it’s rattle proof). The egg carton is handy afterwards for holding paper clips, tacks, or jewelry. You can also nestle your missionary’s homemade presents in an oatmeal box with edible popped padding.

7. Give a lonely friend something to talk to. Plants make wonderful presents—especially in recycled pots. After all, your dad just can’t part with his favorite old cowboy boots, and your sister is sentimental about her cobwebby high school oxfords—right? So turn them into beautiful gifts in three easy steps: (1) Fill the toe with plaster of Paris for weight and stability. (2) Decide on your color scheme and spray or brush on high-gloss lacquer paints. Varnish can be added for more watertightness and higher gloss. (3) If the boot has been waterproofed, pour in some dirt and put the plant in directly—otherwise put the whole planter into the boot. You can waterproof the boot by painting the inside with fiberglass casting resin.

8. Pop art planters can be made from brightly colored cans by simply punching a hole in the bottom for drainage. Cans with paper labels should be shellacked to protect the labels from moisture before adding the dirt and the plant. Metal cans look great as they are and don’t need to be shellacked.

9. Your sister or girlfriend would love some hand-painted barrettes and a fun felt face with yarn hair to clip them to.

10. A simple ball of yarn is excellent gift-wrapping for tiny gifts. Tie toy soldiers or dancers along the strands of yarn and wind the yarn up into a ball. As the ball is unwound, a tiny army or chorus line will emerge.

[photos] Photography by Jed Clark

[photo] Out of paper? How about using an old road map? It will be especially appropriate for giving Mom and Dad some cash toward their next trip, or your sister a little help to get back to college after the holidays, Dice are nice—and easy too. Butcher paper and felt dots are all it takes.

This is your basic missionary wrap—a white shirt cut from butcher paper and a dark felt tie. Make your own shirt label for the gift tag. You can make a pocket handkerchief from a scrap of checked gingham.

[photo] Give your athletic friend or brother some gym socks wrapped inside this big hint—a Levi pocket hamper to remind him where his socks should go when they get dirty.

Save those disco oldies for goodies. Spray them with enamel and make labeled placemats for your newlywed brother and his wife. Each record is just the right size for a plate and silverware. Store them in the old album cover—recovered.

[photo] Wrap your brother’s or boyfriend’s gift football under the arm of a football jersey filled with foam rubber to be used as a pillow. And here’s a real stuffed shirt for you—a great way to give a tie and a pillow at the same time.

[photo] Try something corrugated to hide the shape of your gift. Corrugated cardboard is bright and bendable. Wrap it early. It will look good under the tree all month long.

[photo] Brown bag it, cardboard box it, or manila envelope it. Add a gingham or calico bow or a felt heart; spray-paint over a doily, dab on a little felt tip marker, or do anything else you can think of to create your own original wrapper.

A burlap-covered box makes a great treasure chest. Fill it with clues, and Mom and Dad can go on a little treasure hunt for their gift on Christmas morning. It also makes a great wrap for just about any gift, and it’s a good place to stow the “treasures” you’ll accumulate throughout the year.