assorted color rolls

Holiday Clutter Challenge: gift wrap

The challenge this Holiday week is to consider releasing any and all gift wrap supplies you don’t end up using this week. It’s not that they aren’t perfectly good, but if they didn’t make the cut this time, why will next year be any different?

A friend asked me if I’d help her brainstorm ideas for how to convert a closet into a gift wrapping center. It sounded like a smart idea since she gives gifts throughout the year. We talked about setting aside a couple of shelves for storing the gifts but my suggestion for how to deal with wrapping paper was one that initially took her back a little. Instead of installing custom shelving or hanging dowels to suspend rolls of wrapping paper from, I suggested she start over.

Throw it all out (she donated the gift bags) and spend $10 a month choosing out the perfect wrapping paper for that month’s gifts. Spending $10 or even $20 a month on wrapping paper might feel extravagant but it would save her the thousands of dollars it costs to install Elfa shelving.

As we talked it through, she realized that although she had boxes and boxes of wrapping paper, ribbons, gift bags and bows, she never used any of it. Whenever it came time to carefully wrap a gift, none of it felt quite right. The patterns date so quickly and picking out the perfect paper for each gift was part of the fun for her.

How about you? Are you saving boxes of crumpled bows and ribbons you never use? Does your intention to iron used wrapping paper so it’s good as new ever turn into action? Do you shop online these days and only need to keep a few emergency gift bags on hand for unexpected gifts?

Have a look through your gift wrapping supplies this Saturday and see what’s perfectly good and will never get used. Pay attention as you wrap gifts this week and notice which scraps of saved wrapping paper you don’t end up using this year. What can you safely let go of?


  1. I always liked the idea of “regifting” pretty gift bags and boxes. However, over the years we have a accumulated quite a collection that we probably won’t use. It doesn’t take up a ton of space (a big plastic bin) – but digging through it to find just the right thing takes time and usually makes a small mess. You’ve motivated me – after the holidays, I will go through and pare it down.

  2. Wrapping paper patterns get dated? Who knew? Given that I don’t celebrate Christmas, I can’t recall the last time I gave a gift in person to an adult (as I either give experiential gifts or order online and have items delivered); I have one enormous gender-neutral sparkly roll suitable for all tiny humans. (My mom taught me that it doesn’t matter how you wrap a kids’ gift; just tape on some lollipops for decoration and you could be wrapping it in a paper grocery bag!) I love your money-saving approach to buying new (and ignoring scraps) instead of building a whole gift room.

  3. I guess I’ll say I keep a “healthy” supply. How much that is has changed, however, during my lifetime. When my girls were little, I was wrapping all the time with so many birthday parties. Now, I mostly wrap at birthdays and holidays. I keep some gift bags and a couple of rolls of paper. I have the other supplies (bows, ribbons, tags, etc) in a rolling cart in my laundry room. It works for me at this stage. I see your point, though, about the cost of building a dedicated/installed space. That adds up to a lot more than a few bags each month.

    1. So true, wrapping paper needs, like everything else, will change as we go through the different seasons of life. Those whole class birthday parties were an intense time for gift giving and wrapping! It can be hard to let go of that phase, but it sounds like the rolling cart is the just right solution for you now. Hooray!

  4. I only use bags with ribbons most of the time. I decided to use the extra large roll of wrapping paper I bought from Hallmark for ALL my presents a few years ago. Yes, all of them, so I can use it up. Well, it looks like I have about 1/3 of the roll left. =( I think I may give it away if my husband doesn’t use it to wrap my gifts. =) Thanks for the nudge. =)

  5. Wise advice! This year since no one is coming over to my house I decided to use up all the wrapping paper I had hung on to. I usually go with a color theme each year, but this year it’s just a mix. Nobody is going to see it, so make use of all the leftovers.

  6. OK. I’m going to fess up right now. I LOVE wrapping presents! However, I’ve learned how to simplify things so that I can enjoy the process of wrapping more. I have a few solid colors of gift bags and wrapping paper and an assortment of lovely organza ribbons. The solid backdrops make the colorful ribbons sing. And it makes it much easier to manage the supplies. A few years ago, I went through our wrapping supply inventory to see if any items could go. There were because I had kept gift bags that I had received as a gift. I’ve helped many clients set up gift wrapping stations and gift management systems. Pairing down makes it easier to manage. But what “pairing down” looks like varies widely.

    P.S. I noticed your use of the word “consider.” Way to go, Lucy! Nicely done.

  7. Love this, Lucy! I do not keep much wrapping paper from year to year. You are quite right that the patterns change and become outdated. I have some rolls of ribbon which work quite nicely with most wrapping paper. That’s about the size of it. As for scraps – if I don’t use them during the holidays, out they go. No wrapping clutter here!

  8. A few months ago when my husband retired, he wanted to give gifts to his colleagues. So we made a lot of bags using newspaper sheets with thin jute rope for handles. Took us only a couple of hours, and were a big hit!


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