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I grew up helping my mother wrap gifts — in anything but wrapping paper.
We used outdated maps, the Sunday funnies and even leftover pieces of wallpaper.
With rare exceptions, Mom refused to spend money on gift wrap. “It goes right in the trash,” she always said.
Thanks to the tricks I learned from my mother, I estimate I’ve saved a few hundred bucks over the years.
If I must buy something, I usually hit the dollar store. Gift bags and boxes and wrapping paper are steals there, as we note in “21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store.”
The rest of the time, I cloak gifts in all kinds of no-cost items, including all of the following:
The funnies section of the Sunday newspaper is great for wrapping kids’ gifts.
Other sections of the newspaper work, too — front pages, sports, special weekend sections. I used to use stock market tables pages a lot because the tiny print makes a nice backdrop for colorful gift bows.
Colorful magazine pages make distinctive wrapping paper for small boxed gifts.
You can also make gifts bows with magazine pages that you have cut into strips. Just do a web search for a tutorial like that of How About Orange, a blog of graphic designer Jessica Jones.
3. Shopping bags
Paper shopping bags make for sturdy wrapping paper. Just cut out a flat piece that’s big enough for your gift.
Of course, you can also use paper bags as gift bags. I like to use the festive brown bags that Trader Joe’s has this time of year as gift bags.
If you happen to have leftover wallpaper stashed away in a closet or garage, roll it out. It’s essentially just a thicker version of wrapping paper.
Paper maps also make for sturdy and colorful wrapping paper. They’re hard to come by these days, but that just makes it all the more special to receive a map-cloaked gift.
So, check your junk drawers and glove compartment in case you buried any outdated maps there and forgot about them.
6. Old greeting cards
Gift tags are ridiculously overpriced. You can make your own for free with any sturdy paper. It takes seconds.
I love to use the front half of holiday or other greeting cards I have received.
The side with the imagery becomes the front of the tag. Just cut it off neatly and crop it to the size and shape you want — I use a basic paper trimmer. Then, write “to,” “from” or whatever on the back side and punch a hole in one corner so you can attach it to your gift with a ribbon.
Alternatively, write on the front size and use double-sided tape to attach it directly to the gift.
7. Used gift wrap
Name a form of gift wrap, and you can often get multiple uses out of it — bows, boxes, sometimes even wrapping paper.
I have enough used gift bags and tissue paper on hand to last me for years. No gift recipient is the wiser — except maybe for Mom.
What’s your favorite way to cut gift wrap costs? Share them with us by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.