Wrap it up in silver

One of the things I discovered during my uncluttering process is that silver wrapping paper works for every gift-giving occasion — weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, baby showers, housewarming, etc. — and when you only have a few tubes of wrapping paper to store, it takes up very little space in a closet. A simple wrapping storage solution can easily handle all of our paper and supplies.

Before using silver paper, I’d been trying to use brown butcher paper for all my wrapping. However, I felt the brown paper was too casual for some occasions, like weddings and anniversaries. I ended up buying small batches of wrapping paper whenever a more formal gift-giving experience arose. The same was true for using fabric bags, and fabric puts a storage burden on the person receiving the gift. I also like the idea of reusable gift bags, but these only work on gifts that coordinate in size to the bags, so you have to store multiple sizes of bags for all different types of situations. Plus, reusable gift bags can be significantly more expensive than wrapping paper and after a couple uses start to show signs of wear. Silver wrapping paper doesn’t have any of these disadvantages — it’s inexpensive, always appropriate, fits all different sizes of gifts, can be recycled, and it doesn’t put a storage burden on the gift recipient or the gift giver.

Silver wrapping paper is in stores in abundance this time of year, and is when I typically stock up my wrapping supplies for the next 12 months. (For some reason, silver paper is much more difficult to find at other times of the year.) Before children, my husband and I could usually survive on two tubes of silver wrapping paper a year. Now that we have a son, we’ve decided to pump that number up to four.

The best deal we’ve found this year is at Ikea. Their SNÖVITA gift wrap (available only in stores) is just $1.99 a roll for 2 ¼ yards:

If you can’t find silver wrapping in your area, a white or a gold wrapping paper might also be a signature wrapping that could work in all situations the way silver does. Whatever style you decide to use, consider a method that will help to keep your wrapping paper clutter to a minimum in your home.

51 Comments for “Wrap it up in silver”

  1. posted by Erin N. on

    I use brown Kraft paper as my signature wrap. I tie some raffia around for a pretty earthy look, it’s gorgeous around the bottom of my Christmas tree. If I’m truly in need of a pop of color, I can brighten any package with a festive ribbon.

  2. posted by adora on

    Silver is great, and you can jazz it up with ribbons once in a while.

  3. posted by footix_ on

    Newspaper are very casual but can be quite stylish in black & white. Plus, there is no need to store it ahead of time, so less clutter.

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @footix_ — I’m not much of a newsprint wrapping user (not formal enough for wedding gifts). But, if you actually subscribe to the newspaper, it’s a great wrapping for kids gifts!!

  5. posted by recycler on

    So, Am I’m the only one who gets my gifts wrapped at the store…? 😉

  6. posted by jeff on

    Yes, newsprint definitely wouldn’t work at a more formal event. Great for a child’s birthday but not so much at a wedding or anniversary party. The butcher paoer might work, but the simple silver solution seems perfect! Nice job!
    Jeff http://www.twitter.com/jmannaz

  7. posted by Tracy on

    Our recycling company won’t take wrapping paper with metallic colors. Apparently most wrapping paper is not recyclable for a number of reasons – http://earth911.com/recycling/.....ing-paper/

  8. posted by Minneapolisite on

    Is the IKEA paper 100% opaque? I’ve found that most cheap wrapping paper requires double-wrapping to truly hide the gift contents.

  9. posted by Lori on

    I just recently bought some wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby that is black with white scrollwork on it. I plan to use it for everything, since black and white will work well with any color bow. The design also seems suitable for both males and females. It is a nice heavy wrapping paper and the roll is very large, so it should last all year.

    Last year I bought some red paper with a white design on it to use for all of my gifts throughout the year. Next year I may pick a different color to use.

  10. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Tracy — Ours takes the silver paper since it’s not “foil” but actually paper. You might look at a different recycling center.

    @Minneapolisite — The Ikea stuff we bought is opaque. No need for double wrapping. I’ve had that problem with the “foil” wrap, though. So, I don’t buy it. I go with printed paper.

  11. posted by Lisa on

    I have one roll of brown kraft paper, and one roll of white. The white is more formal, and I usually make or buy a really nice bow. Plus, the kids can either draw or paint on either paper, which makes a great decoration for family members.

  12. posted by DivaJean on

    We use cloth bags for gift giving to the extended family- and they circulate around. My mother in law started this many moons ago and it saves a great deal on paper. (I even have favorites out of the ones she made- she now exclusively gives presents to me in the black and white striped bag with bright pink ribbon.) One year, after Xmas, I just bought multiple yards of holiday fabrics on deal discount sales. The next Xmas, I made bags to fit whatever I was giving extended family members. You’d be surprised, but the bags end up being pretty standard sized- and you can always put two small things in a medium bag. The bags are jazzed up with fancy ribbon ties and such- and I always make nice labels that could be used as ornaments they are so well crafted. Once in a while I will have an odd shaped present that I will consider making a new bag for- or just wrapping. I can say without delay that I haven’t had to do this in over 3 years though. The cloth bags get stored in an under bed box when the holidays are over.

    As for the 4 kidlets, Santa wraps in color coordinated paper for them. The oldest daughter gets red, my oldest son gets green, my younger daughter gets gold/yellow and the baby son gets blue- like the pieces in a standard board game (red, blue, yellow, green). Once all kids are no longer believing in Santa- the paper wrap goes and I will craft cloth gift bags in “their” colors. I have heard of many thrifty families that use burlap bags for gift giving from Santa and they call them “Santa sacks.” That’s not really for me, but its on the same premise.

    We do keep generic birthday wrapping paper for parties that the kids get invited to- our own kids are fine with getting birthday presents in cloth bags I made in more generic colors (ie- not holiday colors or prints). Weddings and such are so rare for us that buying the paper at the time its needed just makes the most sense.

  13. posted by Caroline on

    I have felt the same way when I tried to go to only using the brown paper. I love the silver idea (I have also considered white) and will definitely be following your idea! Thanks again!

  14. posted by Kay Chase on

    You know, we’ve got a lot of gift wrap in the closet. I think I’m going to label it all as “2009” (since it’s all from at LEAST last year), and put a two-year time limit on storing gift wrap. I think some stuff doesn’t get used precisely because it’s too occasion-specific, so I suspect we have five year old gift wrap there that we’re never going to use.

  15. posted by Rebecca on

    I use the colored comics pages from the Sunday newspaper (which we buy for the coupons) for birthday gifts. Red is also another color that is good for a lot of different gifts.

  16. posted by Tabbycat on

    I don’t wrap presents anymore, just get a gift bag if I do buy something for someone. I don’t have kids though and I know that doesn’t work for wrapping Christmas presnets that sit under a tree.

  17. posted by timgray on

    My wife and I buy a single roll of gold wrapping paper, but it’s a very large roll. WE paid $25.00 for it 5 years ago and it still has 80% of the paper on it. I built her a wrapping station in a cabinet and we have a single place for all the wrapping to take place at stool height so it’s comfortable. works great and we don’t have to put any of it away. Just close the door and it all disappears.

  18. posted by Los angeles maids on

    For us it depends. Department stores we go to gives free gift wrapping services if you reach a particular amount. If not, we usually just buy a gift bag. Its easy to handle. Just put the gift inside then scribble a short message on the gift tag. That’s it. I know we’re so lazy and unimaginative when it comes to things like this.

  19. posted by J on

    I’m torn on the use of paper gift bags. So easy to use if you’re buying one for your particular gift. So hard to use if you’re trying to find one from your stash that suits the size, occasion, and recipient. Also, like Erin mentioned, they tend to show wear after only a few uses. I’m really liking the idea of silver or white paper. And it’s a great time of year to start thinking about this.

  20. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    I like the idea of silver paper if it fits for you and your gift recipients. But many people I know prefer to reuse rather than recycle – it’s the greener option, and it saves money.

    And some of them will carefully unwrap that package and save your silver wrapping paper, Erin. So, in those cases, any wrapping creates a “storage burden” – except the recipients don’t think of it as a burden at all.

    Personally, I don’t do a lot of gift-giving that requires wrapping. I have a small stash of paper, but I prefer to use bags when I can, because wrapping isn’t my forte. Other people I know get huge pleasure out of creating gorgeously-wrapped gifts – and their gift-wrap needs are very different from mine.

  21. posted by Sue on

    Ikea used to have wrapping paper in a variety of fun bright colors. I have a roll of each color, along with matching ribbon. It takes up little room and I like mixing and matching ribbon with paper.

    But formal events do require something a little more special, so maybe I’ll check out their silver paper.

    I have to say that, at wedding showers I like having the only present that’s not some shade of white, gold or silver. If I choose a color based on the bride-to-be’s taste (purple was my last wedding shower choice), my present really stands out and seems extra special.

    Same with baby showers – my presents pop amongst all the pastels.

  22. posted by Maggie Rose on

    I’ve done the brown kraft paper and I like to dress it up with a bow of really beautiful ribbon. Of course, I love using ribbon for things so for me, having some extra around isn’t clutter. Some bigger cities may have access to gift wrap stores that sell plain and patterned gift wrap in larger-than-normal rolls that will last a long time. This year I’m using a really outstanding pink floral for almost every holiday (even Christmas!) – for the few men in my life who get gifts (dad & boyfriend) the kraft paper still works.

  23. posted by Stephanie M on

    Another option that my family uses…in order to use up “leftover” paper we turn it inside out! If it’s a family gift or one not being opened in front of a crowd, no one will care that it might be Christmas paper inside if it’s solid white on the outside. If it’s heavy duty paper, it’s also great for covering packages to be shipped.

    We often look for the Christmas wrapping paper at Costco. We can get a HUGE roll for $9.99, and it’s reversable and VERY heavy duty. The rolls we’ve gotten in previous years are often a pattern on one side and plain on the other, or a more simplistic pattern. For example, I have a roll with blue and silver snowflakes on a white background on one side, and it’s solid silver on the other.

    We also look for the solid colors that Target often carries. They’re smaller rolls (and thinner, cheaper paper) but work well if you really want the color.

  24. posted by Anita on

    Huh… I don’t think I own any gift wrap. I used to buy several rolls of it every year, the idea being to have variety, but then realised few of my gifts are ever giftwrappable without having to buy a box to put them in first, which is pretty ridiculous. So now I reuse gift bags I’m given, or buy recyclable gift bags and tissue paper as needed. Nothing to store, I can have as much packaging variety as I want, and I’m not stuck having to use something I no longer love just because it was left over from the previous year/occasion.

  25. posted by Laura on

    We buy our Christmas wrapping paper at Costco. They sell big rolls of double sided paper and it lasts forever! I also store basic solid color wrapping paper and then I let the kids put stickers on the presents as their contribution to the decorating process.

  26. posted by Kathryn Fenner on



    Fit variable sized items and look really cool!

  27. posted by Courtney Ostaff on

    see also: aluminum foil 😉 Does double-duty in your kitchen, totally recyclable, opaque, etc. If you want to keep some pretty ribbon around, so much the better.

  28. posted by Mimi on

    – i try to get my gifts wrapped in stores, too :o)
    – if this does not work, i use this book, it contains wonderful wrapping papers and is easy to store between my books
    – and if the presents are not wrapped in the shops _plus_ bigger then the papers in the book i buy a piece of cloth to wrap them…

  29. posted by stephanie on

    I check out the christmas wrap after the holidays. You can find some great generic looking stuff that is great for birthdays, etc.

  30. posted by Rachael on

    Right now we’re halfway through an enormous roll of navy paper. One side has navy and medium blue stripes, the other has a swirly scrollwork pattern in the same colors. It has worked well for birthdays, Christmas, baptisms, and even a non-formal wedding. For fancier weddings, I have been working through the dozen or so we got for our own wedding three years ago! I do like the silver idea, and I’ll keep my eyes open for a giant roll of it!

  31. posted by Sky on

    I have a huge roll of white semi-shiny paper and use different colored ribbon. For Christmas, I use red and green ribbon and the tags really stand out on the white paper.
    It keeps things simple.
    Erin, I do like the silver paper idea. Maybe when my roll is gone I’ll try that.

  32. posted by Christine on

    I inadvertently took on a similar strategy a few years ago. I got a roll of shiny green & silver paper at holiday time but realized it’s generic enough to work for any occasion. It didn’t work for a wedding, so I got another roll of black and white. I think I’m set for a couple more years.

  33. posted by Another Deb on

    My giftwrap and bag collection is pretty stagnant. We have relatives in several distant states and tend to send gift cards or have online shopping choices for them. My side of the family decluttered gifts altogether for Christmas. What a relief! I can fit a LOT of wrap selections into a long tote bag. Small rolls slid inside medium rolls, and then into larger rolls. Flatfold wrap can slide alongside the rolls in the tote. It hangs on a clothes hanger in the closet. Robbons are in a shoebox. One spool of white, one of pink, one of blue.

    Now, if only the scrapbook materials would collapse into a smaller area…

  34. posted by Penny on

    Our city (Phoenix) recycling will not take wrapping paper, whether it’s metallic or just plain paper.

    When I moved seven years ago, I bought a small box ($7) of plain newsprint from Uhaul, because I didn’t want to get newspaper ink on the things I was packing. I used quite a bit from the box, but there was enough left over to keep me in gift wrap ever since.

    The newsprint is 100% recyclable, looks great with a variety of ribbons to dress it up, and you can even write a message on it if you don’t have a card.

    Granted, it’s not fancy enough for most weddings, but in that case I usually get a gift bag at the store when I’m buying something off the registry … especially as many registry gifts are bulky items (towels, sheets, etc.) that seem to work better with a bag.

  35. posted by Ann on

    I like your silver paper idea. I have a great drawer in a hallway that is about 3″ wider than the length of a standard roll. I really keep my inventory down and am VERY liberal about tossing excess wrapping paper. That one drawer for everything is enough.

  36. posted by isles on

    According to Earth911.com, most wrapping paper is non-recyclable.

    There are suppliers of recyclable wrap, though. I bought big rolls of red, light green, orange, and silver (which is on the matte side), and have been using them for years for various occasions. Sometimes if I have a little throwaway type toy around, I’ll tie it into the bow on a kid’s birthday present to make the package more festive.

  37. posted by anne_d on

    I buy paper with celestial designs when Cost Plus has their after-Christmas sales, and use it all year. I do the same at Joann’s with their shiny colored foil paper; green and purple and turquoise and gold and silver work all year ’round. My family also has a tradition of keeping and reusing interesting gift wrap; some pieces get cycled through for years before they finally fall apart.

    I also pick up pretty tote bags at yard sales and thrift shops to use as gift bags.

  38. posted by Suse on

    Our family does a gift bag exchange each year. We pool them together and people take what they want, or if an occasion arises we will ask each other if we have a certain bag for a gift (birthday – boy – large). Most kids don’t care about the wrapping – they want what’s inside.

  39. posted by Dorothy on

    Because we have four kids, I always color coordinate at Christmas. Nat gets green wrapping paper, Emily gets purple, Casey gets red and Laura gets silver. Everything for my husband goes in a (recycled) bag. Makes things much simpler, since a big family can mean a lot of presents, no matter how “uncluttered” you are.

  40. posted by Melissa on

    I use aluminum foil. It’s fun, shiny, cheap and has a multitude of uses!

  41. posted by Cassandra on

    When my grandmother died we took her huge pile of road maps and have been using them as our signature wrapping paper ever since. We also use the free maps we get in junk mail and National Geographic.

  42. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I’ve also been a fan of silver paper for years.

  43. posted by April on

    We do that, only not with just silver. During the after Christmas sales I’ll look for any paper that is a non-Christmas pattern in colors I can use throughout the year. We have a dark/light green checked tube, a red/white striped tube, a blue with silver stars tube, and a cream with white paisley-print tube. Those, with an assortment of ribbons and knickknacks to tie into the bow, I’m set for any occasion.

    (Examples of some knickknacks: A plastic bouquet of daisies that I’ll cut a couple flowers off of, a feathery hair-tie from the dollar store, a beaded bracelet, etc.)

  44. posted by WhoWhatLogos on

    Silver does work for every occasion as do white and kraft. It’s kind of like accessorizing a room. You can change the whole look and style of a gift by finishing it off with the details!

  45. posted by Kairisika on

    Environmentally speaking, I can’t possibly justify buying paper to be used once with no functional value.
    I wrap presents first in gift bags or paper given to me by others (gotta get it out of the house), second in interesting scrap paper lying around (shoebox tissue paper is nice) and third in leftover tissue paper I have lying around from god knows what.
    I’ve never needed a step four, and this year everyone’s getting wrapped up in shoebox tissue. I have all kinds of brands and colours from work!

  46. posted by Kairisika on

    (and no, it’s not fancy enough for a wedding. But I can’t justify wrapping paper even for a wedding. If you have an issue with the wrapping my gift comes in, we probably have an issue in our friendship.)

  47. posted by Lee on

    We have one jumbo roll of yellow and have taken years to get it down to about half of a roll. Christmas is the only time where another color might be better.

    I can make a gift bag by choosing a rectangular or square box or container and wrapping it on all sides except for one end. Then I slip the box out, turn the top down to the inside, punch one or two holes in the double layer, and run one or two ribbons through the holes. Quick and inexpensive and saves shopping for or storing bags. The only thing better is if we can use part of the gift (tea towel, baby blanket, etc.) for wrapping.

    Although not a wrapping issue, many of my friends keep greeting cards and later cut out the picture or design and paste it to small white paper for cards or plain tags for gifts.

  48. posted by Btoblake on

    Having put a lot of thought into streamlining gift wrapping over the years:

    Silver paper works, and is extremely versatile, but needs to be handled well, and still needs to be pretty. If it looks more like steel than silver, people won’t smile when they see it (It may seem superficial, but let’s face it, the smile is half the fun of a gift). A smooth shiny surface will also make small crumples or tears more noticeable, so give it more tlc than you’d give packing paper.

    If brown or white paper is useful for your other projects, just get a big roll. Simple paper makes a great background for crafty touches, such as drawn on gift tags. This is also a good approach for cost savvy and eco-friendly people. Try the office supply store for big rolls, which may even have recycled paper content, rather than the gift shop, which will price them like the rest of the wrapping paper. Look for brown packing paper for forgiving qualities and durability, or white butcher paper for big cheap rolls.

    Comics are great for amusing friends and family. If you use this… please use the whole sheet, so we can get the punchline. It is informal and requires a bit of storage space, but makes a free, fun family tradition.

    Recycled sari cloth bags and vintage scarves can be cheaper than paper bags, and can really add wow factor. While with good color choice, this can be a unisex approach, the extra dollar or two is more worthwhile for women, who are often thrilled to receive a pretty accessory with their gift, and are more likely to keep using them.

    As a sidenote, if you do like traditional wrapping paper, do try a good quality gift shop like hallmark. I’ve found good quality wrapping paper often comes with more paper on the roll, and often has grid lines on the back to make wrapping easier.

  49. posted by Keri on

    Does anyone have a good solution for storing gift bags? With three kids under the age of 4, we have accumulated quite the plethora of gift bags. I don’t want to throw them out because they are useful. Right now I just have them in a big box, but I’d love to minimize that.

  50. posted by Coco on

    That silver paper shown (from Ikea) is not generally recyclable. Even though it isn’t the ‘foil’ type wrapping paper, the process of makin it silver renders it unsuitable for recycling (as a few others have pointed out). Almost all metallic wrapping paper is not recyclable.

    Also, I don’t own those exact Ikea papers, but I own many Ikea wrapping papers, and most Ikea wrapping papers sometimes you can see through them, and need 2 layers of paper for items with high contrast or bright colors. If you are wrapping a white, brown, etc. box or one without high contrast, the Ikea papers are fine, but they do tend to be thin.

  51. posted by Jeannie on

    We wrap presents with old maps that might otherwise be thrown away. They take up very little room to store & you can get a stack of them at yard sales for 25 cents –or free by clearing out your glove compartment. You can dress them up or down with ribbon, raffia or twine. We also use old maps as shelf-paper for the kitchen and drawer liners for dressers and bathrooms.

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