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5 Ways to save on gift wrap

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Kids holiday crafts

Wrapping paper with Christmas and Hanukkah themes is expensive if you buy it at full price (which it is right now). Why not use the need for wrapping as an opportunity to do a great, fun craft project with your kids?

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper is expensive and, in this tight economy, it's an expense that can be cut and used in more productive ways. This holiday, eschew the brightly colored paper that rips before you can even get the tape on to secure it. There are fun alternatives that can turn inexpensive materials into fun, festive wrapping paper and other parents are using them

Stamp it to me

Using craft paper, white paper or even paper bags from the grocery store, you can create unique, homemade wrapping paper, many moms say.

"We have used potatoes and cut them with stars, angels, Christmas trees -- any type of shape -- then rolled poster paint on them and used them as stamps on tissue paper and large rolled white paper. We have also used sponges to gain a slightly different effect," says mom Christine S. David of The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

Snowflake effect

Do you remember creating snowflakes with little cuts of folded paper? Revive that technique, using the results to paste to packages for a special paper decoration.

If your child can't yet use scissors, no worries. "To create a truly personal paper, we rolled paint on the children's hands then had them place their hand print on the paper -- you could stop at this if you wanted. We went one step further and arranged the hand print to look like a snowflake by putting five little hand prints around a circle. The arrangement of the fingers and palm made the print look like a beautiful one of a kind image," says David.

You can also create a snowflake look using a regular doily as the template. "Another type of wrapping paper was made with the use of doilies. They are laid on the paper and then the sponge is dipped in poster paint and dabbed on top of the doilies. Everywhere there is a hole in the doilies the paint goes through to the paper. This creates a snow flake affect," says David.

Wrap bags

Forget pre-made gift bags! Break out the sewing machine and whip up some reusable gift wrap bags.

"My mom whipped up some holiday themed fabric Christmas bags a few years ago on her sewing machine and we've been using them ever since. She created a variety of sizes... a wine bottle one and a couple that fit shirt boxes... the bag idea came out of the need to wrap a very large Radio Flyer scooter for our little one. The box was way to big to put so much paper around," says Alyse McConnell, of JoyWork Coaching and Consulting.

Artwork outerwork

Take advantage of all of your children's artwork from school. When there are too many masterpieces to save them all, use them as special handmade wrapping paper. "When they were (ages) 2-6, I took all those large pictures they painted at school and at home and used them as wrapping paper. We never know what to do with them, and they can't hang on the fridge forever, but they work wonderfully and are very colorful! Use matching ribbon and it almost looks planned," says Sheila Gregoire, author of four books including, To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you Feel More Like a Maid than a Wife and a Mother.

Upcycle holiday cards

Katrina Cristobal might not be a mom yet, but the owner of Miami's Eclectica store has a great idea for old holiday cards that kids can help with. "Use last year's Christmas/Holiday cards to make this years gift tags. You can make use of the image on the front as well as the sentiment inside. Be creative with the shapes you use. Circles and rectangles are fun, but why not try something different like a candy cane or the first letter of the gift recipient's name," said Cristobal.

Save money and wrap green, what more could you want?

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