A couple of years ago, a lot of the grocery stores in my area switched from plastic bags to paper bags, as did many across the country. I never remember to bring in my own reusable bags, even when I have them in the car, so I usually end up using the ones provided by the store. The plastic bags I always saved for bathroom garbage bags, so I felt like I was at least using them once more before they went in the garbage. But the paper bags I found myself throwing away because they don’t hold up if they get wet, and they’re much harder to get in a small garbage can.
After throwing away countless bags, and as that holiday season was approaching, I decided I would wrap all the presents in the paper grocery bags. I told my kids my idea and they immediately groaned. They said that was a ridiculous idea and that it would surely be ugly by comparison to traditional Christmas wrapping paper. I proceeded forward with my idea anyway. At our house we don’t put presents under the Christmas tree until the kids go to sleep on Christmas Eve, trying to remember throughout the holidays Jesus Christ, and that He is the reason for the season, not the present. So, my kids didn’t get to see any of the wrapping until Christmas morning.
They came in and surveyed the scene that morning and finally had to admit that yes, it was way better than they had imagined, and that yes, it was actually a really good idea. For some reason they had envisioned me just leaving the bags as they were, stuffing the items in like I was checking out of the store, and then taping them shut! The store names being written all over the front, “thank you for your business” on many of them, or whatever was written just out there for all to see. And that really would not have been a great way to use the bags for sure!
To use the grocery bags, I started off by trying to unstick the bottoms so that I had more paper. I was successful with this attempt some of the time, but I eventually just started cutting the bottom out. I then opened the bags up by cutting at the vertical glue line and then place the bag on the floor with the writing side face up so that it would be on the inside of the wrapping. If the package was large, I taped two or three bags together, whatever I needed to do to make it big enough. I then wrapped the packages like you would with regular wrapping paper. Then, to make them a little nicer looking, I added different colors of ribbon. I now can’t remember if I added the colors based upon the child, each child getting their own color, or just added whatever color I had that day when I was wrapping. Then labeled as to whose they were. I really enjoyed wrapping this way, my husband even got involved on one occasion, and as my kids admitted, it really did look nice.
Last year I used traditional wrapping paper again. This year I was talking to my son one afternoon as he was doing homework, or supposed to be doing homework, telling him that I probably needed to buy wrapping paper for the presents this year, and he said, “I really liked the brown paper bags, you should just do that again this year.” I was surprised that he would suggest that as opposed to the fancy wrapping paper and decided that maybe this was a great year to wrap everything in brown paper again. After all, it’s not about the wrapping on the outside, but what’s on the inside, and the wrapping paper gets thrown away anyway.
I love the simplicity of the brown paper and how the ribbon dresses the presents up just enough to make the gifts pretty and festive. You can buy rolls of brown paper for wrapping presents, as this is not a new idea. But the cost of the roll is comparable, and sometimes even more expensive, than traditional wrapping paper. With paper bags being so prevalent and for our area anyway, free, there’s no reason to purchase the rolls of brown paper. I love simple ideas that look great, and this is one of my favorites during the holiday season.