Reuse, Reduce, Recycle: An Epiphany Among Bows and Ribbons

Gift-wrapping "rush job" brings clarity and a new sense of purpose for old greeting cards.

It’s not yet Jan. 6 yet, but I have already had an epiphany of sorts this Christmas.

Being cheap can be liberating.

I am a mom of two young boys. We live in an old farmhouse with a creek on the property. We have a mid-sized long-haired dog.

That means lots of things are pretty much standard in my life. Mud. Constant trips to the grocery store. And doing things, in spite of the best of intentions, at the last minute.

My epiphany came, believe it or not, while wrapping a holiday gift for my son’s school bus driver. Getting the gift wasn’t a last minute thing – we actually made her chocolate-covered stirring spoons to go along with a box of specialty coffee. But, wrapping the gift was a last minute project.


So last minute, in fact, that I was shoving things into a gift bag with less than the ideal Christmas demeanor, while barking things like “Put your coat on. Open the front door. What do you mean you don’t know where your shoes are?”

And, this last minute gift-wrapping couldn’t wait, as it was the very last day of school before the winter break. This was now-or-never-gift-wrapping.

True confession here: The gift-bag into which I was shoving the gift, was not a new one. I reuse gift bags. I reuse gift bags with wild abandon.

My epiphany came when I realized that the gift bag I was using didn’t have a gift tag hanging from the handle, since, well, the bag wasn’t new.

That’s when I saw it -- the Christmas card sitting on the kitchen counter. A Martha Stewart-like tip I’d read somewhere at some point drifted to the front of my brain.

I did it almost without thinking. Grabbed the scissors, the hole punch, the roll of curling ribbon and the Sharpie. I cut the front of that card into a pretty hexagon shape, punched a hole in it, signed our names on the back and tied it to the handle of the gift bag.

All while my son was saying over and over “bus…bus…bus…BUS.”

I handed him that gift bag with milliseconds to spare, feeling good about how crafty I’d been. How green I’d been. How much de-cluttering I was about to do.

No more guilt about what to do with all the “seasons greetings” at the end of the season. I had found new purpose for them. I could give them a second life.

Still not quite sure what to do with all the photo cards…

Tina Schantz January 03, 2012 at 07:16 PM
This is a great idea. I often cut name tags out of the same paper the present is wrapped in. I was also wondering what to do with the photo cards. wondering how they would look framed, but some of them are trimmed in snow flakes or other holiday themes that will show through.
Beth January 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I save my photo cards from year to year-it's fun to see how all the kids grow from year to year.


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