As my children were growing up, it always bothered me to buy wrapping paper only to see it ripped open and thrown in the fireplace or trash after Christmas gifts were opened. I tried using comics but soon discovered I didn’t like the black newsprint it left on my hands and everyone else’s. For me, gift wrap was right up there with fireworks – we spent good money only to see it go up in smoke. I began to look for a solution.
I bought craft paper and stenciled things on it, but still, I felt the paper was going to waste. Then one year after Christmas I saw holiday fabric on sale and had an idea! I bought yard after yard of it on sale and brought it home to make gift bags.
Over the years I’ve made them in lots of sizes, but I think my favorite is to use about a yard of fabric for each one. I basically cut and sewed them like a pillowcase, with a seam on three sides, with the unfinished edge hemmed and folded in about 3″. (In the beginning, I made a casing and ran ribbon through each one, but now, I prefer to use wide ribbon to just tie it closed. It’s much prettier!)
When my kids were younger, they didn’t like the bags because I just placed the gift inside and tied it closed. I think they missed the anticipation and noise of unwrapping the present. Now, I save boxes throughout the year and put the tissue-wrapped gift inside the box before putting it inside the bag. It helps give the package a definite shape, and it still gives the recipient something to open, but it eliminates the time spent on wrapping the gift, and the expense of the paper.
Throughout the year, when I’m in a craft store such as Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, or Michael’s, I watch for the wide ribbon to go on sale. The nice thing about the ribbon is that you can reuse it every year, too. The only thing you may decide to purchase is the tissue paper, but you can even get creative with that! (Save wrapping paper from gifts that are given to you and shred it).
When all of the gifts have been opened, just fold the bags and stuff them all inside the largest bag to be ready for next year. This year when I opened the bag, I found the gift tags were still there, too.
Use whatever fabric catches your eye or whatever is on sale. I like the red and green holiday fabric, but I’ve since incorporated some blue and gold into the group. Even plain muslin or pillow ticking can look good if you spice it up with fancy ribbon. There are lots of possibilities if you get creative.
I think one of the things I like about the fabric bags is that they all look like little Santa bags. They’re just so cute!