Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Traditions - Reusable Gift Bags

I have a long history of recycling when it comes to Christmas gift wrap. Growing up in a family of six children, I am sure it was financially difficult enough to buy all of the wonderful gifts my parents did each year, without having to buy gift wrap also. So, for as long as I can remember, we wrapped all family gifts in recycled newspaper. It is honestly one of my favorite Christmas memories. After the gifts were wrapped in the newspaper, my mom handed us brand new permanent markers - black, blue, green and red!!! We would go to town on decorating the presents with trees, wreaths, snowmen, or whatever else we could think of. The best part was we never had someone telling us it was too much or too little. We could just decorate the way we wanted. I like to think each gift had a "one of a kind" gift wrap.

Since leaving home, I have tried reusing paper grocery bags but mostly I have used gift wrap or paper gift bags, always feeling like it was a waste of money and resources.

A few years ago my friend Darcy introduced me to a tradition her family has had for many years. Instead of gift wrapping presents, they reuse cloth Christmas bags. When I first heard of the idea, I liked it but worried we might miss the sounds that come with paper - the tearing of the paper, the crinkling, and of course, picking up the mess afterwards. But, I decided to give it a try last year and made bags of all sizes. Every gift that came from our immediate family was wrapped in a gift bag - Sophia even insisted the last present without a bag be wrapped in a purple pillowcase so we didn't have to use any gift wrap.

On Christmas morning, I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't miss the sounds that come with wrapping paper and we definitely didn't miss the wrapping paper mess we generally have to clean up after all the gifts are opened. The cloth felt more personal, like each gift had been wrapped in love, which really, after Alexander, Sophia and I had picked out the fabrics together and I had spent many hours preparing them - they were wrapped in our love and will continue to do so for many years!