This is a guest post by Lori, who blogs atHooray for Freebates, where she helps you get the most popular products free after rebate!

I love gift wrap. I almost have to say I’m addicted to gift wrap. I have so many different kinds of paper and ribbons and tags and bows it’s crazy. And if your kid is selling gift wrap as a fundraiser for school? Pass by me because you’re sure to make a sale.

But if you think about it, gift wrap is pretty expensive for what it’s worth. You give a beautifully wrapped gift and the paper is then torn apart and then usually thrown away. That’s not good for your wallet or the earth. So here are a few ideas you can use to still give beautiful gifts while minimizing costs and maybe even helping the earth a little bit.

Wrap Wisely

Buy a universal color of wrapping paper that can be used for any occasion if you are going to buy paper. For example, silver can be used for a man or woman, birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, a wedding or Hanukkah. Having one multipurpose roll will keep you from spending on rolls for each event. (It will also take up less space in your closet!) I have three coordinating rolls that I’ve been using for a while.

Make your “wrapping” part of the gift. A beautiful basket with bath products or baked goods will definitely be used again. Or give your guy some car washing products in a bucket with a bow. I gave my parents a housewarming bucket of things to help clean their new home and “wrapped” it in a trash bag. I used the bag ties as the bow.

Get someone else to wrap for you! I received an email from a friend telling me her church group will be at the mall through Christmas Eve wrapping gifts for free. The money you will donate or spend as a tip will probably still be less that what you’d spend in gift wrap, and you won’t have to clean up afterward!

Wrap Creatively

Design your own paper using blank rolls of bulletin board, craft, or meat wrapping paper. Have your kids draw or color on it. Or design your own by stamping or doodling.

Print your own paper on the computer if the gift you’re giving is small. Type their name or other sentiment in different fonts or colors all over the page. To save on ink use bold, outlined letters only.

Decorate plain photo boxes. When I got married I gave my wedding party gifts in those cardboard photo boxes you can get at Michael’s on sale. I bought plain white boxes and drew scrolls all over them in silver paint pen. Then I put their gifts inside and wrapped it with a navy blue bow (my colors were navy & silver). Those photo boxes come in handy for a lot of things!

Wrap “Green”

Use newspaper or comics to wrap gifts for people who are always “in the know” or for kids.

Don’t wrap the gift! Depending on what you give, wrapping may not even be necessary, just adding a big colorful bow might do.

Put paper grocery sacks back to work. Wrap a smaller gift in brown paper and add a bow.

Repurpose boxes that would otherwise be trash. I collect boxes throughout the year that might be good for wrapping gifts: instant oatmeal boxes, shipping boxes I receive in the mail, shoe boxes, boxes from products I’ve bought, oatmeal cannisters. This picture shows just some of the boxes I’ve got in storage for gift wrapping purposes.

Save and reuse gift bags or gift boxes that you receive. I recently found in my attic 2 plastic bins full of Christmas gift bags and boxes I had received at past Christmases. I won’t have to buy any of these for a long time! I also saved all of the gift bags I received when my son was born. I won’t have to go shopping for baby gift wrap for a long time. This picture shows my stash of generic gift bags – all of these were received with gifts.

Turn holiday cards you’ve received into gift tags. Tear off the fronts and cut them up. Write your to/from on the back, punch a hole in them, and tie to your gift with a ribbon.

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