RENEW IOWA: Sustainable presents by wrapping gifts in items you have around the house

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Christmas is now just three days away. That means the rush is on to wrap all your presents perfectly. But, you don't have to run out and buy paper, ribbons and bows. One metro woman has an eco-friendly way to use items you have around the house.

Emma Thomas-McGinnis says, "I still have some to make, so they're not all wrapped." The mother-of-two says she's rushing to wrap up Christmas. But, she's doing things a little differently this year. She says, "My strategy used to be to just get out the wrapping paper and wrap it all at once. But, I didn't like all the paper."

She recently blogged about the topic on This year she created five ways to wrap presents reusing items from around the house. She says, "So, there's not a mountain of paper whenever you're done wrapping presents to just throw in the trash."

She says to start by looking around your house, especially for sturdy boxes. She says, "This was a frozen corndog box and it has a nice opening and I wrapped it in contact paper, which I had from my kitchen just for shelves." She also suggests using a brightly colored shoe box. Just cover up the logos with scrapbook paper or an old greeting card.

She says, if you can sew, you can make a bag. The quilter says you can find holiday fabric that costs about as much as wrapping paper. You just cut out rectangles and sew together. She says, "After the holidays I can store it away just like I would a roll of wrapping paper. But, this will be nicer for years to come rather than throw away each year."

She says you don't even have to buy fabric to stitch up a nice bag. She says, "This was just made out of a bunch of Target bags. I fused them with just an iron between two sheets of parchment paper, and it's a few layers, and it makes a fabric that I can sew a tote bag out of."

And, don't worry if you can't sew. She says you can still give green by wrapping your presents in a reusable bag. You can find those just about everywhere for about the same price as a disposable gift bag. She says, "This was at a craft store a couple dollars, and it's really sturdy. It's meant to be a shopping tote, but it can be a great gift bag first."

She says it's something the recipient can enjoy long after the present is opened.

You can find a tutorial on how to make the bags on Thomas-McGinnis' Quilties blog.