I'm in the midst of trying to transition from expensive wrapping paper and ribbon to less expensive options, preferably reusable. That is not as easy as it sounds beginning with the fact that it is hard to know what size packages one is going to have for gifting. This year was a mix of old and new wrapping options. It was a combination of regular wrapping paper, brown craft paper, cloth, wire-edged ribbon, satin and grosgrain ribbon, tulle as ribbon, and decorative holiday picks. Here's what worked and did not work.
The brown craft paper that many said would be less expensive was okay. I couldn't find any great buys on it, though. So, while it was less expensive than the stupid-expensive wrapping paper I had to buy, it was not nearly the deal I was expecting. The craft paper is also harder to fold around packages and required more tape. I guess it could be reusable to some extent as wrapping paper or for pattern tracing, but that would be a pain. I did like that I could write on it eliminating the need for a gift tag. I guess another plus would be that it can go in the paper recycle bin. In the end, however, I have decided I will not use it again. Other options are easier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly.
The tulle as ribbon was a win. I bought it by the bolt and cut strips. Can't beat the price which comes down to about a dollar a yard without a coupon. It's 54 inches wide at Joann's. That makes lots and lots of easy-to-cut tulle strips. It was a fun look and easy to use. Since it doesn't hold the wrinkles, it can be reused. Downsides will be storing it and keeping track of the different lengths.
I've used picks before and love them. They are easy to tuck into the ribbon (or tulle) on the package and give a nice pop. After unwrapping gifts, I poke them onto the tree as a decoration. The picks get packed away with the ornaments for use the next year. They can be bought for a pittance either close to Christmas or right after.
I love how the wire-edged ribbon looks and the ease of use. Downsides are that it isn't as forgiving with the wrinkles as tulle and saving it for reuse has the problem of keeping track of the different sizes.
Using plain old fabric worked well. It's a bit hard to see in the above photo, but I wrapped that rectangular package up like a piece of candy--bunching each end and using grosgrain ribbons to tie the ends up. That was one of my favorites. Sometimes I fold the fabric to hide the unfinished edges. Sometimes I serge it.
I like the simplicity of using squares of fabric. Not one of my giftees sews, so all the fabric goes right back into my stash--another plus. Only downside is that I sometimes have to cut the fabric. I don't think I'm the only sewer who has trouble cutting into a piece of fabric. I might want to use it for something else someday that will require a large piece of fabric, right? I have somewhat solved this problem by buying fabric remnants at Joann's.
One last things that worked out this year was buying little inexpensive name ornaments that I used in place of gift cards. LOVE this idea. It's a gift on a gift cuz they get to keep it for their own tree. I picked up a few of these when they were down to 70% off just before Christmas.
I am slowly heading in the right direction with this wrapping stuff. We shall have to see what next year brings.