Nearly four months after Sam’s arrival, congratulatory gifts are still being shipped to our house. I had no idea that his birth would make us a regular stop on our driver’s UPS route. In separate cases, three friends gave gifts and then soon after, Sam even received something from each of their mothers… shipped from where they live in the South (Florida, Georgia and Texas) – places where gift-giving is most appropriate and considered the right thing to do.  Believe me, the widespread fuss continues to surprise me.

So after tossing countless boxes, wrappings and tissue paper over the last few months, one recently arrived in a package that didn’t make me feel guilty about sending it on to the landfill. Why? The gift bag had been fashioned out of old newspaper and as a result was already on its second and alternative use. Fitting that this gift was from friends that built a home “off the grid” in Northern California.

This got me thinking about how much is wasted on gift bags. According to, a staggering $5 billion worth of gift wrap is tossed in the trash each year. We try to reuse most of the gift bags we receive on birthdays and Christmas, but the “new baby” versions seem too specific and probably will not get recycled any time soon… hence the tossing part.

But I love the idea of making my own the next time I need to wrap a gift. I already give homemade cards. A handmade gift bag seems like the next and complementary step.

So following in the footsteps of Elizabeth and Andrea, here are the do-it-yourself instructions the next time you want to save a few bucks and say no to traditional gift wrap:

Photo credit: suite101.