Good morning! I can’t believe it’s the middle of November already! Christmas is less than 1 ½ months away and I am sooo not ready. But the Christmas presents, projects and decorations will need to be another post. Today, I am glad to share the frugal Christmas item I have ready – wrapping paper!
There are many ways to be frugal with wrapping paper. Some people make and use fabric bags to reduce waste, save the environment and use less paper. That’s a great idea, but I know the kids love to rip open wrapping paper, in fact I love to rip open wrapping paper, so I had to find an alternative. Too bad, I have lots of fun Christmas fabric.
The first few years, I tried to be frugal with wrapping paper by reusing it. I would let the kids rip open the presents. Instead of squishing it into a ball to throw across the room, we would pile the paper into a large heap in the corner. Later in the afternoon, I would sort through and keep the largest pieces to use next year. Sometimes, I would keep smaller, but useable, pieces of my favorite paper designs. I would roll it around an empty wrapping paper tube to use next year. This was ok, but I still needed to buy new paper. As the kids get older and the presents get smaller, it is harder to find bigger pieces of paper to keep.
I needed to find a frugal way to acquire the wrapping paper. The easiest way is buying it at the after Christmas clearance sales. But that is not always the cheapest way, and the stores are taking longer and longer to mark prices down after the holidays. I am not a patient person. So, I decided to quit buying any wrapping paper at stores.
I started to buy it at thrift stores and Goodwill. For a few years, I was happy to spend 50 cents to $2 for a roll of wrapping paper. Most rolls were not full, but I would only buy the larger ones. I watched and bought all year round to build up a supply, so I didn’t need to buy every roll I saw.
Then, one day I stopped at the end of a garage sale. It was the very last day and they had stuff marked way down. Before, I had never really paid attention at garage sales for wrapping paper. How silly of me, I watch for all sorts of things at garage sales-dishes, books, craft items, Christmas presents even-but not wrapping paper? But there, at the end of the table, was a plastic tub with wrapping paper in it. A few of the rolls were used, but most of them were brand new. With lots of paper! They wanted about $4-5 for all of it-including the plastic box. I was thrilled! After offering a little less, I happily took home my new plastic box and rolls of wrapping paper.
Since I had a decent supply of wrapping paper, about a year’s worth, I decided to try a challenge. Similar to the dryer challenge, I wanted to see how long I could go not buying wrapping paper at any store. Not even thrift stores or Goodwill!
A challenge can be a fun way to encourage frugal habits. With the dryer challenge, it was fun to chart my progress. I liked seeing all the weeks and then months of smiley faces and stars on the chart for not using the dryer!
The wrapping paper challenge is different though. Buying wrapping paper is just not an everyday occurrence, unlike laundry. It is too bad laundry is not more like buying wrapping paper, there may be weeks in between purchases.
It was great having a new item on my ‘to buy list’ for garage sales, though! I love any excuse to garage sale. Most weeks, I did not find wrapping paper, but the prices are great when I do! Usually, it is 25 to 50 cents a roll.
One of my purchases included a surprise- a handy wrapping paper clip! It works great to stop the paper from unrolling. I usually use the cut off top few inches of an old sock, a frugal way to also stop it.
Over the years, I have acquired 3 plastic tubs, and wrapping paper to fill them, from garage sales and auctions. I especially enjoy the last day of an estate garage sale: prices are usually half off, it is less crowded and no one seems to want wrapping paper.
Most of the paper I find is for Christmas, but I do keep my eyes open for birthday/baby/ wedding paper. I also try to keep an open mind about the designs. What I think is an ‘interesting’ Christmas paper, might be the perfect boy birthday paper- like a purple and green plaid.
I love finding older, vintage wrapping paper. It is especially fun to match themes with people, like the Christmas rabbit paper for the niece who liked bunnies. This year, I found Care Bear paper that I can’t wait to use!
This year, I also tried making wrapping paper and gift tags. It is very frugal, since I use $2 end rolls of news print paper from a local printing company. The shaving cream prints and bubble prints were part of my Summer Series Challenge to help me finish projects. It was strange making Christmas paper in the summer, but it was fun. Now, I am glad the wrapping paper is finished and ready to use. Actually, it was pretty easy, since I could make the wrapping paper outside, keeping the paint and mess out of my kitchen. A Christmas Challenge to finish projects before the hectic holiday season might be good idea. It will have to be for next year though, since Thanksgiving is already next week!
There are so many frugal options for Christmas wrapping paper– using fabric bags, saving it, buying it at clearance sales or thrift stores, searching for it at garage sales and auctions, and even making your own. Which way is your favorite frugal option? Maybe you even have a different one to share?
I like that wrapping paper is one part of the holiday that I watch for and buy all year long. It helps make the holidays a little more frugal and a little less hectic- now if I could just learn to make presents all year long!
Happy Camping (or just dreaming of it, while wrapping presents!)