Give your Christmas gifts the perfect final flourish with these eco-friendly wrapping ideas from Camille Wilkinson’s new book ‘Gift Wrap Green’
STANDARD PARCEL PAPER IS GIVEN A DECORATIVE FLOURISH WITH PLEATED COLOURED PAPER AND REUSABLE RIBBON. IMAGE: MICHAEL WICKS
The reason gifts have such sentimental value is in part explained by how they come into our lives, as tokens of affection, typically at times of celebration. Most often, this added value is derived from personal or emotional association, rather than the gift’s actual material worth, and gift wrap intensifies this symbolism significantly. Big or small, we love the anticipation of that moment of surprise this alluring paper striptease offers. Whatever the style, research shows that gift wrapping has intrinsic meaning and appeal, and elevates even the humblest gift in the eyes of the recipient.
Over the years, wrapping paper has evolved rapidly, helped to a significant degree by the invention of adhesive tape. Today this multi-billion-dollar industry generates millions of lines of mass-produced product, designed to appeal to a wide range of tastes and for every conceivable occasion and purse. Distressingly, however, the majority of it ends up in landfill, as most gift wrap paper is not, despite common belief, recyclable, being often laminated with plastic, foil or other non-paper materials.
(LEFT) OLD BOOKS, MUSIC SHEETS AND MORE CAN BE USED TO MAKE CREATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE GIFT WRAPPING; (RIGHT) PARCEL PAPER PRINTED WITH AN IVY LEAF AND TIED WITH TWINE. IMAGES: MICHAEL WICKS
We all have an obligation to our planet to be conscious consumers. The holiday season always brings this into stark focus when, despite all we know, the shops are full of gift-wrapping paraphernalia that is neither sustainably made or recyclable, meaning that, yet again, most of what is bought will end up in land fill.
Gift wrapping is part of our gift-giving culture but it needs to evolve for a greener future. There are so many cheap, and often free, found or repurposed materials all around us that with a little bit of lateral thinking could be used to start a gift-wrapping revolution. Once you start looking, you will begin to see interesting options for gift wrap everywhere.
I am not entirely against regular gift wrap. Sometimes they are simply the best option for your requirements. If you want to purchase traditional wrapping paper, keep a look out for products made from recycled materials that can themselves be reused or recycled. However, I encourage you to discover a new freedom with your gift-wrap choices, to deconstruct the usual notions of what a wrapped gift is supposed to look like. So, in addition to giving consideration to your purchased paper materials, start collecting instead of buying more.
PLANTS MAKE WONDERFUL DECORATIONS AND ARE COMPLETELY FREE AND SUSTAINABLE. IMAGES: MICHAEL WICKS
Of all the embellishments, in my opinion, it is the natural ones that reign supreme. Nature never gets it wrong. It’s fast, often free and ultimately sustainable. In winter, try drying out slices of orange and apple in the oven. It takes no time at all and the scent will be amazing. Use them on their own or combine with cinnamon sticks for a classic look. Alternatively, you can find dried chillies and the like in grocery stores.
So whether you make it elegantly beautiful in its simplicity, or fantastically fabulous and fun, or, indeed, anywhere in between – make it with a promise to cut down on wasteful gift wrapping.
Extracted from ‘Gift Wrap Green: Techniques for beautiful, recyclable gift wrapping’ by Camille Wilkinson. Photography by Michael Wickes, Batsford, RRP £12.99
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