When it comes to gift giving, presentation is huge and can cost as much as the gift! The thought of spending a ton on something that will be wadded up and thrown away makes me cringe.
Do you save wrapping? In the sub-culture I live in made of my extended family and church family, saving wrapping is expected. There is a designated person at birthday parties and showers to smooth out the paper and tissue and rescue the bows from the trash. I have a box in my basement with gift bags, paper and tissue all saved from previous gifts. I'm not as big on saving the actual paper as I am the tissue. (Telling a child to go ahead and tear the paper brings gasps from the older crowd and a wide-eyed look from the child with a "Really?!!" in response. It makes me feel extravagant to do it, lol.) A good ironing makes tissue look like new, while paper that has been previously taped and crumpled just doesn't get it's finesse back.
Above: Reused mylar wrapping paper and tulle
With reusing in mind, I like gift bags, tulle or wired edged fabric ribbons (travels well, irons out or finger presses and lasts a long time), and furoshiki wrapping cloths. I also love giving a gift where the wrapping is part of the gift. I'll often wrap a baby gift in a homemade receiving blanket with diaper pins and hair elastics to help secure it, and a teether with tulle for a bow. Flour sack towels are great for wrapping wedding gifts. Another good choice for a wedding gift is a laundry basket or hamper "gift bag" filled with bulky every day items like toilet paper and laundry detergent.
Check out these blogs for awesome frugal gift giving ideas. I especially like this first one which uses common household items--a plus if you didn't think ahead and are late for the party!
1. Sandy Babb of Quill Cottage is a paper flower genious! These make beautiful pacakge toppers. Click the link below for instructions for carnations and daisies from tissue and below that beautiful collage flowers of tulle, tissue and even muffin liners! http://quillcottage.blogspot.com/2009/07/paper-flower-memories-paper-daisy.html
2. Enjoy this Youtube video from www.flairdesignery.com on using tulle for simple and inexpensive package toppers.
3. If getting smooth beautiful paper on your gift eludes you. Try this tutorial from Dandee: http://dandeedesigns.blogspot.com/2007/12/gift-wrapping-tutorial.html
4. From the inspired room: http://theinspiredroom.net/2007/12/02/gift-wrapping-tutorial-part-one/
These gifts are beautiful. It is possible to spend a ton to get these looks, or you can use their ideas for inspiration and gather items from your own yard to make a beautiful package.
5. Hideous, dreadful, stinky, has as a step-by-step basic tutorial for you that doesn't fit her blog name! Even her wrapping pattern overlaps exactly! http://hideousdreadfulstinky.blogspot.com/2009/09/perfect-gift-wrapping-tutorial-part-1.html There are 3 parts to this tutorial, so be sure to click on.
6. Use this tutorial from Smart and Trendy Moms to make your own bow from leftover wrapping paper scraps: http://www.smartandtrendymoms.com/2009/11/fun-and-trendy-gift-wrapping-tutorial.html
7. Using a brown paper sack and painter's tape!
8. Furoshiki--Think baby blankets, dish towels, bandanas, recycled clothing ...
9. Purse fold furoshiki. I thought of lunch when I saw this one (but it doesn't take much for me to think of food.) If you gave someone a Valentine lunch wrapped up in a cloth like this, their placemat or napkin would be included!
10. I LOVE THIS! Make some homemade baker's twine using the instructions from A Foothill Home Companion: http://foothillhomecompanion.blogspot.com/2009/12/homemade-bakers-twineish.html. This makes the perfect touch for a home-style gift. You have to click over there. Her pictures are drool quality and she has a gorgeous gift bread wrapped in a white and red tea towel with baker's twine and a crocheted strawberry as a finishing touch!