Homemade Gift Bags

I have always loved wrapping Christmas presents. I would pump the Christmas tunes or perhaps turn on a Christmas movie, and then spread everything out on the living room floor and just go at it. I would pick the prettiest wrapping paper and the shiniest ribbons, and would coordinate and apply them for maximum effect. Then I would expertly arrange them under the tree. Everything had to match and coordinate with the tree as well, of course.

Then on Christmas morning everyone would tear into everything and all my pretty paper and ribbons would head straight into the trash.

A few years ago I started to realize the wastefulness of wrap, so I started using the reusable gift bags wherever possible. They did not arrange as nicely under the tree or look as pretty, but oh well. At least we could put them back into the bag bin and use them again. The odd big toy package still got wrapped.

This year I decided to take it one step further. I want to use homemade gift bags. As of this morning, I now have 6:

Quite a cute brunch, no?

My mom and sisters and I all decided to make some this year. We now have a pact to use them for inter-family gifts only. So you give one, you get one, then you give different ones next year, and they just rotate through the family. These are the ones I made with them:


Then I got out the scrap material left over from my sewing my living room curtains 6 years ago, and made two of these. Dupioni silk looks much better all trussed up under the tree, instead of tucked away in the scrap drawer. Don’t you think?

This one was made out of green velvet pants I wore in high school. I was in love with these green velvet pants (hey it was the 90s!). When they finally gave out I could not part with them, so I cut them up into smaller bits of fabric. They now have a new life as a purse-like bag, embroidered with some holly leaves (yes I did that part too!) and a vintage button.

So starting this Christmas I will no longer use a scrap of wrap!

Tote This

Today’s resolution is simple and way overdue – stop using plastic bags. Employ reusable tote bags instead.

First stop – plastic bags at the grocery store. I normally have full intentions of using my reusable bags when I go grocery shopping. I actually prefer them, as they stand up better, hold more and are comfortable to carry. However, most times as I walk up to the store, I am kicking myself for forgetting. Why can’t I remember? For the last 2 years I have probably only remembered my reusable bags about 20% of the time. That is a horrible record. Every time I carry out a week’s worth of food in about 12 plastic bags, I feel pangs of guilt and regret. It should be just as second nature as remembering my keys and purse as I head out the door. Keys, purse, bags. Check, check, check.

Since I didn’t quite trust myself yet not to forget, I loaded my car with extra bags as a backup plan. If I forget again, no problem… just let me reach for my secret stash…

Next stop – no more plastic produce bags. Over the last week, I have been saving all the bags that I would have normally thrown out. Produce bags, bread bags, used Ziploc bags… Here is the result. One week.

I am not going to throw away that pile of plastic above, I can reuse these bags when I want to purchase food from the bulk bins (less packaging!). So I washed them all and cut out the lid of a big coffee can and put them in like this:

Hmmm… Just like a nice can of plastic Kleenex…

Since I am not going to use plastic for produce anymore, I went and bought these. They even come in their own little bag, making them easy to just pop in my purse.

Cute, huh? Bye-bye plastic, hello pretty reusable mesh. These are called Care Bags Produce Bags and can be found here.

Third stop – no more plastic bags at any store, ever. Tote it or carry it. Fail safe solution? Carry a nylon bag that scrunches up really small in my purse.

Really, this stuff is just about planning ahead. Once I thought about it, it took me only 2 minutes to figure it out. Sometimes breaking old habits is just about simply thinking about them in a different way.

Listen to the kids sing about it. Let’s build them a beautiful and sustainable planet, without the plastic bags in the landfills and oceans.