How many of you out there have a pile of barely-used looks-new gift bags somewhere in your home? My mom is a chronic gift-bag saver, and so is my mother-in-law! The result of this is we've had the same set of Christmas gift bags revolving between our families for several years now! Many still look brand new, and others...well...let's call them well-loved classics. (Especially the HUGE Christmas gift bags...because we're all too cheap to buy enough paper or a new gift bag to wrap large-size gifts when a perfectly good Santa gift-bag is still kicking!)
Gift bags aren't the only thing we save, either. Gift boxes, bows large and small, fancy gift ribbons, and other like-new package decorations are continually reused, and even large unwrinkled sheets of gift wrap that once wrapped very large gifts are seen as potential gift wrap fodder for a future Christmas.
In fact, the only time I typically buy new gift wrapping items is when they are heavily clearanced after the fact; CVS and Target are my top locales for sniffing out gift wrap for pennies on the dollar in the weeks after Christmas.
Last week and this week, I made it my mission to clean out my SUPER messy "saved and clearance-purchased gift wrapping stuff" storage shelf in the basement. For real: it was a huge mountain of random gift bags, barely-used gift wrap, and other accoutrements.
For the past couple of years stuff has collected there, and it needed major help. It took me several minisessions of work (that's the way it happens when you're doing it with a baby and often also a three-year-old around). Here's how I approached it:
- Throughout the entire process, throw away anything that looks too old or used. When in doubt, don't reuse it.
- Separate all of your stuff: bows and tissue paper from your gift bags and gift boxes. Make a huge pile each of bows, tissue paper, bags, or boxes as you do this.
- Sort your gift bags into three categories: teeny, standard, and HUGE. Put each size set in a box (could be cardboard, Sterilite, whatever works for you!).
- Sort your tissue paper by color. For me, this was: whites, yellows & golds, reds & pinks, blues & greens, and white with patterns. Some tissue papers are holiday-themed, so it may behoove you to have a few tissue categories by holiday (Christmas, birthday, baby, wedding, Valentine's Day, etc.).
When you're done with the sorting of the tissue paper, you can gently roll your stack and store the roll loosely upright in a smaller box. This way it's easy to see and easy to take a sheet out without messing up the rest.
- Sort your gift boxes. Some are holiday-themed, so it may work for you to have box categories by holiday (Christmas, birthday, baby, wedding, Valentine's Day, etc.). Stack your gift boxes neatly, largest on the bottom, smallest on top, so that you can see them in one glance. Two post-Christmases ago, I picked up shirt boxes at Target for 90% off - and they're still in my stash. Sweeeeeet.
- Put your bows and other box decor in a separate box. (Or further sort them if you like.)
- Organize your items on a shelf or other designated location so that you can see things plainly and put things together quickly, so that when the gift-giving occasion arises you can wrap it in no time. Here's a sample scenario of how it might go:
--What size is my gift? For which occasion? (You'd pick out your gift bag or box.)
--What color tissue paper should I use? (You pick out a sheet or three from your color-sorted tissue paper.)
--Do I want any other bows or decor? (You pick from your separate box of bows to match the gift bag and tissue paper.)
- Pick up a hanging or under-the-bed gift-wrap organizer with compartments for storing a few items like spools of ribbon, tubes of gift wrap, "gift wrap scissors" if you have'em, and scotch tape (in my case, picked up for $0.24/roll on clearance).
- If you like, you can save the "too old" tissue paper for kid-oriented craft projects like tissue paper carnations, which make terrific decoration come spring and Mother's Day! "Too old" gift wrap can be used for scissors practice, too.
- You will save money, because you'll know at last the extent of your supplies at home. No more last-minute purchases of bows or tape or wrapping paper at the store (probably at full high-season pricing) only to realize later that you had it at home all along!
- In the same vein, you'll know when you're about to run out of something because you have an awareness of what's already in-stock at home, and that way you can keep an eye on deals or seasonal clearances to stock back up.
- No more crummy too-old tissue paper on gifts you give because you grabbed that still-looks-new gift bag (containing said too-old tissue paper) from the top of your "gift wrap stuff" pile in a rush.
- Having your gift wrapping stuff organized means that you're less likely to procrastinate on holiday gift-wrapping and will save time when you do gift wrap.
- Knowing what you have, you'll be able to put together more creative combinations of bows, paper, bags, etc. than if you were just staring at a mountainous pile of unorganized gift wrap leftovers.
What organizing tasks are you tackling now so that you can have a more peaceful, less expensive, less-stressed holiday season?