Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - January 14, 2011

Ultimate recycling: re-using gift wrap

You don't have to wait for the holidays to find uses for ribbons and paper

by Kit Davey

Getting new stuff at Christmas is always nice, but what really thrills me is the gift-wrappings. Just think of all the neat things you can do with all that paper and those bits of ribbon!

If you're the sort who carefully peels off the tape from your Christmas gifts and collects the loose ribbon, you may enjoy recycling them in new ways. Don't just save the paper 'til next holiday season, use it throughout the year in decorating projects.

Recycling ribbon

* Do slippery stacks of magazines annoy you? Gather a year's worth of magazines and tie a long piece of ribbon around the bundle, as if it were a package. Layer the bundles at angles and place them next to an overstuffed chair, or stack neatly in a bookcase.

* Dress up a clay pot with a fat, colorful bow.

* Tie back cafe curtains or your shower curtain with a long length of color-coordinated ribbon.

* Show off your hatpin collection in an old saltshaker. Tie a bit of ribbon around the shaker's neck and poke a few pins into the holes in the shaker's cap.

* Mesmerize an infant by hanging strands of ribbon in various colors and lengths from the ceiling over her crib.

* A clever friend used ribbon to hang a decorative "window" in a windowless room. Her husband retrieved a small discarded wooden window from the junk heap. After cleaning it up she tied sturdy ribbon around both sides of the window.

She installed two hooks from the ceiling, about two inches away from the wall and hung the window using strong fishing line looped through the ribbon. A peaceful view was added by tacking an impressionistic landscape poster behind the glass.

* Tie a small wooden or porcelain box up like a gift. Place the "gift" on a stack of books, on your vanity top or dresser.

* Make your guests feel special by tying a pastel ribbon around the necks of a few padded hangers in your guest room closet.

Give the closet a fresh smell by adding a homemade potpourri bundle. Place several tablespoons of potpourri in the middle of a lacy handkerchief. Gather the bundle, tie with ribbon and dangle the pouch from one of the hangers. Tie a fat bow around a stack of fresh towels and place a bundle of dried lavender on top.

* Make yourself an unusual necklace. I inherited several very small (less than an inch tall) saltshakers. I looped a bit of wire through the holes in the top of one shaker, and then tied a length of ribbon through the loop to make a "necklace" with the shaker serving as a pendant. I added a few beads and a contrasting ribbon around the neck of the shaker. When I'm not wearing it, I tie it around the neck of one of my stuffed teddy bears. An old key can be used up the same way if you don't have any tiny saltshakers.

* Tie a bow around the neck of your child's stuffed animals or dolls.

* Use a wide ribbon (3 to 4 inches) as a table runner or mantel decoration. Place an odd number of pears evenly spaced along its length.

* Dress up a vase, ginger jar or lamp with a bow around its neck.

* Tie ribbon around a bundle of dried flowers or herbs and hang them from a knob in your utility room.

* Suspend a medallion or crystal ornament from window frame or from your chandelier.

Recycling paper

Start by smoothing the wrinkles out of the wrapping paper by passing a warm iron over the non-printed side. Then re-use the paper in projects such as these:

* Line a desk or dresser drawer with cut-to-fit squares of wrapping paper.

* Wrap cardboard magazine storage boxes. The boxes look much more attractive when wrapped in colorful paper.

* Do you have a framed photo or picture with a dirty or torn mat? Recover it with a section of wrapping paper.

* Individually wrap several small books with paper and stack them on the night stand in your guest room.

* Make your own decorative photo storage boxes by re-covering old shoe boxes.

* Store smaller bits of paper with your art supplies to re-use in collages.

* If you have stacks of cardboard filing boxes in a corner of your office you can make them more presentable by decoupaging squares of wrapping paper onto the parts of the boxes that face out.

Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, specializes in re-design, staging, design consulting and professional organizing. E-mail her at KitDavey@aol.com, call her at 650-367-7370, or visit her website at www.AFreshLook.net.

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