So, you’ve taken a pledge to give only handmade gifts this Christmas. Your ornaments and decorations are all one-of-a-kind creations gathered from the local craft fair and visitors to your home are going to be treated to local artisan cheeses and breads before being sent home with homemade fudge and gingerbread from your own kitchen. It sounds like you’ve got the bases covered…but you’re not planning to use boring old store-bought wrapping paper, are you? Of course you’re not!
I have always been a proponent of the fabric gift bag. Not only do they look so cute under the Christmas tree, they are almost infinitely reusable. Considering the cost (and waste!) of paper wrapping and plastic ribbon, fabric bags will pay for themselves within just a couple uses. These colourful, reversible gift bags by Pidoodle are doubly-good for the environment because the fabric used to create them was repurposed from thrifted garments. A dedicated thriftier and “fickle crafter”, Carissa seeks out used (and sometimes damaged) pieces at charity shops and gives them a second life by dying, silk-screening and sewing them into gift bags. She even includes a piece of tulle to replace expensive and fragile tissue paper. How clever!
Often seen as unimaginative, gift cards are getting what I feel is an unwarranted bum rap. Personally, I see them as a win-win situation; the giver can quickly and easily purchase a card (often avoiding the mall altogether) and the receiver gets to do the fun part – the shopping! The presentation of the gift card could do with a make-over, though, and these little card cases by Oh So Retro (above) fit the bill. They make for an oh-so-perfect “envelope” for your gift cards, plus they become part of the gift itself! Deceptively compact, each one will securely carry up to 50 business cards, or use them to organize all of those stamp cards and club cards that seem to accumulate in your wallet.
The lovely Adrienne of Oh So Retro Design has taken a personal oath to not purchase any commercial Christmas supplies or ornament this year, choosing instead to find re-usable containers and wrappings for her gifts. Says Adrienne, “It’s too much money, pollution, garbage – such a waste on so many levels.” I couldn’t agree more!
Using fabric to wrap gifts is nothing new to the Japanese; their use of Furoshiki dates back to the 8th century! Furoshiki fell out of fashion after World War Two, largely due to the popularity of the plastic shopping bag. With the recent interest in reducing waste, however, Furoshiki is enjoying a comeback and gaining popularity in other parts of the world as well.
Susan Fennel has brought the tradition of Furoshiki from Japan to the US with her gorgeous hand-dyed cloths, available in her shop Oriba Shibori. Her Furoshiki cloths are incredibly versatile and can be wrapped in many different ways to accommodate gifts of all shapes and sizes. (Tip: a quick search of You Tube reveals dozens of how-to Furoshiki videos.)
Susan’s earliest memories are coloured indigo and white; the traditional colours of the Japanese textiles that literally surrounded her childhood home. Now living in Raleigh, NC, Susan divides her time between creating her stunning woven and Shibori-dyed fabric pieces, teaching high school and educating public school children about Japanese culture and language through her local Artist In Schools program. For an inspiring glimpse into Susan’s art and life, check out her website and blog Atorie.