Keeping it real
Another green – but not cheap – wrapping option is to use real things like calico bags or large hankies. As with all presents, do make sure that your “wrapping” is something the recipient will actually want: if you give Uncle Brian a floral scarf and little Tiffany a tea towel, it may be just as wasteful as wrapping the presents in disposable paper.
Here are some possibilities:
- cloth squares (the aforementioned handkerchiefs, tea towels and scarves)
- bags (calico shopping bags, shoe bags, insulated lunch bags)
- storage containers (jars, baskets, boxes)
If you can afford this, include the expenses either in your wrapping budget or as part of the cost of each present (and keep a careful eye on your spending – it can get away from you pretty quickly).
“Gertruda asked Don which of the paintings he likes best,” said Wendy.
“That must be a hard call,” I remarked.
Every Christmas, Gertruda’s husband would give her a piece of jewellery and she would give him a painting. She had a great eye and she went to the right galleries and, whenever the business was doing well, she would spend $5000 on an emerging artist and quite a few of the paintings were worth $50,000 a decade later. The first time I went to her house, I was astonished: I’m hardly an art expert but I recognised a Howard Arkley, a Reg Mombassa and a Jeffrey Smart.
“He chose Jeffrey Smart and Sally Morgan,” she said.
“More bequests?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Wendy. “And I love the Smart but we’ll have to repaint the lounge room to match.”
“Allow plenty of time,” I advised.
 Jars are usually practical but seldom romantic, so do take that into account if your recipient is expecting a love token. (Early in their relationship, Don gave Wendy a fancy preserving jar full of home-made lavendar bath salts, which she loved. So he followed it up the next Valentine’s Day with a jam jar of home-made garlic and soap insect spray which, while just what she needed in the garden, didn’t do him any favours in the bedroom.)