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OK, so you’ve trailed the shops/internet, developed a nervous disorder, and finally got all your presents in a pile; now it’s time to wrap those bad boys. Of course all wrapping gets ripped off in the end, so you might think it doesn’t really matter what it looks like. WRONG. Packaging is very important, as any woman will tell you. It’s also rather nice to receive a beautifully wrapped gift; it shows thought and effort and people always appreciate that. And of course you can do it all in an eco friendly way, using recycled and recyclable materials, whilst still being imaginative, stylish and a bit different. That’s right, you CAN have it all.

You can of course go completely mad with it, and use lashings of ribbon and sticky tape and all kinds of embellishments. I am inclined to think that less is more in most cases, as long as you haven’t literally dug out a bit of creased old paper from last year’s stash, the kind with marks where the tape was stuck the first time round, and roughly attached it to the outside of the gift with tape that got twisted in the middle of things.

So what you need to wrap a present so it looks pretty is: scissors, sellotape, some kind of ribbon/raffia/string. Oh, and paper. (Unsurprisingly I’m a total fan of reusing wrapping paper as long as it doesn’t look too scrappy, and also ribbons which are usually fine for several uses. Proper fabric ribbon though, not that awful plasticky shimmery sort that you can curl with scissors.) Boxes of different shapes and sizes; a present is much easier to wrap if it’s a rectangle.

In the Keeping It Simple vein, what could be simpler than brown paper and string? It has a certain retro vibe to it, is not expensive, and the paper at least can be recycled. You could really up the old-fashioned-parcel feel by using stamps (the rubber kind, or indeed the postage kind), and use a brown or cream paper luggage tag and some lovely brown ink to write your Christmas message. This works well for men, as does simply wrapping the gift and then using rubber letter stamps or cutting out letters in a contrasting paper to spell out their name. (This rather depends on how much time you have.)

For women I’d do something lavish with ribbon. I think of it like the make up rule; eyes OR lips but most definitely not both. Glamorous paper means simple ribbon, and vice versa. I keep a stash of ribbons from past gifts so rarely have to buy new, and with something like the name idea above, you can forego ribbon completely. If you can tie a bow you can make ribbon look nice, and extra wide ribbon has a certain extravagance to it. The kind with wire along the edge which holds its shape is also fabulous, not least because it’s so easy to make it look good. If you can manage it without using tape so much the better, but this can be quite tricky and really only tends to work for people who wrap as part of their job or have four hands.

Another way to do it is to use fabric. Again, I stash away a lot of fabric, and if you buy a fat quarter (a smallish bit) it’s not expensive and can be reused to make something lovely. Fabric’s good if the present is round or an awkward shape; lay the gift in the middle of the fabric (right side down), scoop it all up so it’s bunched together at the top, and tie some ribbon around it so it looks a bit like a pineapple. But much more glamorous. You can use pinking shears to give it a nice non-fraying, zig zag edge too. Or use one of the aforementioned boxes.

If you’re trying to save some pennies, look around your home for inspiration. Old (not vintage!) maps, musical scores, or pages from dead books can all make original, recycled, recyclable wrapping paper. Newspaper (black and white) can be used to great effect too, especially with, say, a bright red ribbon.  And if you’re feeling crafty, why not use rubber stamps on plain white paper?

Have a go! And if all else fails, we can do it for you free!

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Click here to pledge to consume less paper!

I have come to a decision about paper. Despite the fact that Boutiko only uses recycled paper, recycles everything that possibly can be reused in any way, and also that I am a list making afficionado who would be lost without the white (or beige, slightly flecked) stuff, there are going to be a few changes round here.

The reason is twofold; due to the nightmare logistics of moving to a new home and city and not having the internet (STILL!), I have been forced to stop printing invoices to place in customer orders. No one has said a thing about it, and given that everyone receives an email invoice anyway, I am wondering why I didn’t do this sooner. Then I read about Shrink, which is ‘addressing the madness of the overconsumption of paper’, and that decided me.

From now on all Boutiko orders will be sent without a printed invoice, unless specifically requested. A mere drop in the ocean but still, something.

EDIT: Good intentions and all that….. due to recent events not at all helped by a lack of invoice, I will reluctantly be reinstating the inclusion of invoices/packing slips with orders. The customer has to come first, and I can’t compromise on that. Nevertheless I shall be taking extra care to recycle reuse paper to within an inch of its life from now on. (Although I was of course doing that anyway!)

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