What do you do with the gift wrapping paper and the ribbons after you unwrap the gifts? When I was a kid, my mother taught us to carefully unwrap the presents and avoid crumbling or ripping the paper apart. This was often a challenge, especially if the gift giver had used a lot of tape. In particular “funny” game for the gift giver was to use lots of tape to the endless frustration of the recipient. The ribbons would also be pried off without cutting them. “Soft” (read boring) presents were particularly easy here, but “hard” (read fun) presents were also easy if they were rectangular. The worst presents were flat and square.

After distributing the presents from under the tree, a task that usually fell on the youngest members, we would take turns opening a present until the last person ran out. This could take up to an hour. We found that if everybody just started opening at the same time, everybody would be over in 5 minutes and nobody would know what each other got.

Anyway, back to the wrapping paper and the ribbons which is where the frugal moral of this story lies. The next day we would carefully peel the tape off of the gift paper and try to save as much as possible. The ribbons would similarly be untied and wound up in little balls. The reason was that they could be reused next year. Here the art was of course to find piece of paper that fit the present. To me the most exciting part about that was that some wrapping paper was much more interesting/pretty that others. Another great thing about that system was that gifts were always wrapped in different kinds of papers instead of wrapping everything in the same kind of paper from a roll.

My guess is that my parents got that system from my grandparents who used it to save like they saved everything else. These days you have to go back to generations or more to find people who lived through the last real depression. To me it was just a nice tradition and it made the wrapping a part of the entire present – not just something to get through and get rid of. The funny thing is that when I have celebrated xmas elsewhere, I have still subconsciously tried to unwrap my present without destroying anything. This is somewhat funny since everybody else was just tearing their wraps apart and eventually everything would go in the same large trash bag. What are your traditions?

These days are a bit slow in the blogging community as people being busy preparing for xmas. Nevertheless the digerati life found time to prepare The Carnival of Personal Finance #132, Whimsical Christmas Edition, so why not go and read some of the many many articles while you are waiting

Originally posted 2007-12-24 17:35:00.