As I spent three hours wrapping Christmas presents the other night (?? how?), I started thinking about wrapping paper. It just seems like wrapping paper should be free to me, but it’s not. It can cost quite a lot, in fact. I’ve seen wrapping paper for as much as $12 a roll.
I usually buy wrapping paper once a year at an after-Christmas sale of some kind. Last year, I went to a sale at Target and bought six rolls of paper in a wrapping-paper carrier for $2.99. That’s less than $.50/roll, plus I now have a wrapping-paper carrier that I will use to store my paper from now on. Also, I picked paper that wasn’t too Christmas-y so it could be used at other occasions–green and red don’t just mean Christmas if they are stripes or dots.
Since I only went through two rolls of paper this year, I won’t need to buy any more for at least another year, which means I spent $1.50 a year on wrapping paper, maybe less if I stretch it to three years.
As for the bows, I just avoid throwing them out during the gift-giving frenzy. I collect them in a bag and stick them in the closet. Two years ago, I bought a full bag of bows at a thrift store for $.80 and I have yet to buy anymore. I wonder how long I can re-use the same bag of bows?
Anyway, the other night, I started thinking about all the cheap ways of getting wrapping paper. Here was my order from the cheapest to most expensive:
Free wrapping paper:
Re-used wrapping paper from last year. You are the type that when someone gives you a gift, you carefully fold the paper and save it for repeat uses. The problem with this is some of us (i.e. me) don’t have the patience to carefully remove paper when opening a gift.
Recycled wrapping paper. You use paper bags for wrapping paper and plastic bags for gift toppers and somehow still make the gift look elegant. I have personally used the Sunday comics from the newspaper, paper bags tied with twine, and colored tissue paper. The problem is, this can look tacky if you’re not careful.
Free Gift Wrapping. Some stores like Borders Bookstore still do free gift wrapping, which I always take advantage of when I can.
Free Paper. Yesterday I got a free roll of wrapping paper from Maker’s Mark Bourbon. I plan to use it up, even though it has tiny bottles of bourbon on it and therefore not appropriate on gifts for certain teetotaling relatives.
Cheap Wrapping Paper:
After-Christmas Sales. As I mentioned above, this is where I get my wrapping paper. I regularly buy wrapping paper for under $1 a roll at after-Christmas sales.
Thrift stores. You’d be amazed how often people donate perfectly good rolls of wrapping paper. In addition to my after-Christmas score, I bought a roll of retro-looking Christmas paper for $.75 this year.
Dollar stores. By the frugal standard we’re talking about, $1 a roll is getting a little pricey, plus the paper is cheaper and not as attractive. However, it’s a perfectly acceptable method to get wrapping paper in my book.
What’s your way of getting free/cheap wrapping paper?