Content starts here

Gift Wrapping, Cheapskate Style


Did you know that we spend about $2.9 billion every year on gift wrapping paper and supplies according to Hallmark? And of course most of it ends up being throw way after the holidays, which is one reason why between Thanksgiving and New Year's we generate an extra one million tons of garbage every week.

Consider these creative gift wrapping alternatives to save some cash and tread a little lighter on the environment this holiday season:

  • Wrapping gifts in the colorful Sunday comics is a classic cheapskate trick, but consider doing the same with pretty pictures from last year's calendar, wallpaper samples, fabric remnants, or the kid's artwork.  And an outdated map is a clever way to wrap travel-related gifts. 
  • Give gifts that are "wrapped" in other gifts-like kitchen utensils wrapped in a dish towel, or school supplies stuffed in a new backpack, or gifts of food concealed inside a new reusable tote bag for grocery shopping.
  • Brown paper bags (turned inside out to hide any store names) make a perfect, simple background to decorate as wrapping paper using stencils or acrylic paints.  Also, those flimsy plastic shopping bags - the bane of Mother Nature - can be lightly spray painted or covered with spray glitter and used as gift wrap.
  • Colorful "stained glass" wrapping paper can be made by making designs out of crayon shavings between two sheets of previously used wax paper and then using a warm iron to slowly melt the shavings between the sheets (protect the iron and ironing board by placing a thin towel on both surfaces). Wax coated bags from cereal boxes can also be used instead of wax paper.
  • Of course gift wrap can also be saved and reused; put it back on the roll for next season and store the roll in a worn our pair of pantyhose hung in the closet to keep it neat and the edges from tattering.
  • The greeting cards you received last year can be cut up to use in decorating packages and as gift tags. Or you can start a new holiday with your friends, as we have, and simply send the same card back and forth to each other every year.  After all, it's the thought that counts ... particularly when you're a cheapskate.

Photo by Francine Clouden

# # #

Frugal followers of Jeff can vote for him as one of the top financial gurus of 2011.

Watch Jeff on the Today Show giving tips on how to live on less.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Search AARP Blogs