By Michael Axe

People have been wrapping gifts since the 1st century. Birthdays, Christmas, baby showers, weddings … the list of reasons to buy (and wrap) a gift goes on and on. Let’s face it, if there is a reason to wrap a gift, we are going to do it.

Since we gift wrap everything under the sun, wrapping paper has become a billion-dollar industry. Makes sense when you think of all the options you have. If you are on a tight budget you may need to use the ultra-thin paper from any dollar store. If the sky’s the limit why not pay to have your gifts custom wrapped in Swarovski crystals?

I imagine most of us stick with the $5 to $10 paper rolls. Then we usually top the whole thing off with ribbons and bows, which usually doubles the cost.

All of this (the paper, the ribbons, the gift tags) come in an infinite amount of colors, textures and quality; some even have our favorite characters on them. With the ability to customize the gift wrapping to match the recipient, you can easily spend $100 to $150 each year on all of these supplies that have the sole purpose of being ripped to shreds and then thrown in the trash. (Unless you’re that family member who tries to save every scrap of paper to reuse down the road.)

You don’t have to save old paper, or wrap birthday gifts with Christmas paper to save money. Try one of these money-saving tips instead:

  1. Gift bags are not only an inexpensive substitute; they are environmentally friendly as well. They are roughly the same price as wrapping paper, come in as many designs, and the best part, they can be reused a lot easier than wrapping paper. Then, you only need to spend money on new bags when you run out or the bags wear out and break.
  2. Newspaper is a great money-saving option for wrapping gifts. It serves the same function as wrapping paper (covering the gift inside) at a fraction of the cost. BONUS: you’re also recycling the newspaper instead of just throwing it in the trash.
  3. Kraft paper is a great option for wrapping gifts, as well. While most traditional wrapping paper comes in six foot rolls, Kraft paper comes in rolls of one hundred feet or more, at a fraction of the cost. One roll will last a long time and can be used for every occasion, which will save your pocketbook money on wrapping paper that’s customized for the occasion. As a bonus you can even use Kraft paper to make your own gift bags.
  4. Washi tape is a fun option for decorating your gifts. Instead of ribbons, give washi tape a try. This tape is as colorful as any ribbon you can find, and is very easy to write on, which means it can replace both your ribbon and the gift tags at the same time. How functional is that?

Use these money-saving alternatives to wrapping paper when you can, and make sure you use the wrapping paper you already have before buying any more. You can use those extra savings to buy an additional gift.