Re-use- wrapping presents

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There are lots of Birthdays coming in August! So, I thought I’d share some of my re-use tips with you. It helps to have some storage space, as I rely on my craft ‘stash’ to help me minimise and re-use items. In the picture above, you can see this beautiful gift bag- I have a whole load of these stashed from presents that have kindly been given to me over the years or other occasions when I’ve rescued them from other people who were going to simply throw them away after one use! Think of the expense people go to to buy these and they’re usually very sturdy, so could withstand a lot of re-gifting.

This one came with a lovely little circular, matching tag attached- which you will be able to spot if you are eagle-eyed. Sometimes people don’t even use these, but on this occasion they had. So, you simply need to snip of the tag and find a new piece of card to stick it to- thus hiding the old writing behind. Again, I turned to my craft stash- I keep pretty printed papers whenever I see them. This pink patterned square came from one side of an old Kleenex tissues box! Yes, you really can find inspiration everywhere. I applied some sticky squares behind to give the circular part a little lift and voila! One beautiful, custom-made tag- just write your message on the back.

To re-attach, use a hole punch to make a hole in one corner. This bag was very straight-forward as I simply had to undo the knot in one end of the ribbon, thread on the up-cycled tag and re-tie. I think it fits in nicely with the patchwork theme of this bag.

I wrapped the gifts in tissue paper- I usually keep any that I get from any source- like bunches of flowers or gifts, but this time I had run out, as I’ve been using a lot of it lately. So this is new, but I fastened each gift (you can’t quite see this in the picture with re-used ribbons- so no need for sticky tape! I save ribbons whenever I see them- I snip out those ribbon tags you are supposed to hang your clothes with, but you rarely ever use. Sometimes boxes of chocolates have ribbons, or other gifts, bunches of flowers, cakes etc. So ribbons never cost me a thing and I stash them all at the bottom of my workbox- I have every colour, width, shape and pattern you can think of!

A friend recently gave me some gifts wrapped in sheets from an old calendar, they had wonderful photographic prints on them. You can also use pretty paper bags you may get given in shops from time-to-time. Or how about simple brown paper, tied with jute twine? You can add twigs, or pine cones or anything you like as decoration.

I frequently make my own cards, by saving the fronts from old ones that have been given to me and attaching them to a new base. Some cards have paper inside to write on, if you rip that part out- the card is often like new underneath! If there is a rip mark left, then why not glue in a new piece of paper? You can also save photographs from old calendars and anything else you like.

So there you go- just a few ideas on how to wrap presents on the cheap and also in an eco-friendly way 🙂 I’d love you to share your tips. Do you re-use wrapping paper? My dad used to smooth it out and carefully peel off any sticky tape and then iron it flat, well he did grow up in war-time. He’d still do it now, but it makes my mum cringe.

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Food Waste- Emptying the Cupboards of Out-Of-Date Foods

I had to concede it was time to empty the kitchen cupboards of out-of-date foods. I try to keep things longer than their best before dates, but I even I had to admit it might have been risky to consume any of these foods at this point. It should teach me a lesson because a) most of the items related to home baking and b) many of the items I had bought short-dated in the hopes I would use them up, so ultimately I just ended up wasting money. Lesson learnt!

I shall list the items now as a point of personal interest and reference for the future.

  1. 2 tubes of liquid glucose, 1 full, 1 3/4 used. Bought on a special offer at the supermarket for my attempts at making fudge. I think I lasted 3 attempts. I really enjoyed making it, but my first attempt before I purchased a sugar thermometer seemed to be my best one. After that, I just burnt it- maybe the thermometer is not accurate. But it is blooming tricky stuff to make and although very tasty indeed when you get it right, it is such a waste when you get it wrong. Overall, I believe I would be better off to purchase some quality fudge when I fancy some because of this. The quantities you make when you try it at home are too vast for one person to eat!
  2. Half a packet of marzipan- left over from making the Christmas cake. I need to diarise to make a cake, like a Battenberg that uses it up much sooner. Or, alternatively I am thinking I won’t bother making a Christmas cake anymore. I’m usually the one left eating it up, by which point I’m sick of it. If I just bought a tiny one from the supermarket- I could have that taste and then be over it!
  3. Half a packet of white roll on icing- again left over from Christmas (not only this year, but the year before!) Even though I attempted to use some of it up on Christmas biscuits, I’ve still ended up throwing it away. I actually hate the stuff- I think it’s overly sweet and tastes nasty. Another reason not to make a Christmas cake and just stick to un-iced biscuits.
  4. 1 packet of dried egg whites- used about half of one packet making an experimental dessert for my husband which he had seen on the Great British Bake Off (GBBO). It turned out to be totally disgusting! What a waste on every level.
  5. 1 packet gelatine- again from said dessert above. I guess I should have made more effort to use these up and make lemon meringue pies or my own jellies. But I think the fact I didn’t shows that we rarely eat these foods.
  6. 1/2 packet pudding rice- for a while I made my own rice pudding, often to use up coconut milk from my husband’s favourite soup. However, whatever recipe I used- it always came out thick and stodgy and we never enjoyed it that much. So we went back to tinned and this lay forgotten in the back of the cupboard. The plan from now on is to stick to tinned!
  7. 1 packet creme brûlée mix- again, this was a real favourite for a while. But I went overboard and bought too many because it wasn’t stocked often at the supermarket. Trouble is- everyone else got sick of it, so I stopped making it and this packet got forgotten at the back of the cupboard (lesson learned).
  8. 3 squares of Green & Blacks dark mint chocolate- we were given this as a present and no-one liked it. I tried to plough on to the end, but it was pretty grim!
  9. 1/2 bar nougat-Given as a present, again- no-one really liked it!
  10. 1/2 box meringues- bought on a 2 for 1 offer as we had guests coming to stay. Shows that mostly 2 for 1 offers are wasteful!
  11. Tin of dried yeast- I was given loads of flours and a recipe book as a present one year, as I have to eat gluten-free. But my experiments were short lived because the results were so poor! Actually, this got forgotten because I passed everything else on to a friend who was gluten-free for her to try it all out!
  12. A handful of pistachios- my favourite nuts, but I obviously don’t eat them enough
  13. 1 packet scone mix- bought on an offer and then languished at the back of the cupboard for too long!
  14. 4 tubes writing icing- bought reduced because I thought I’d use them. They actually turned out to be rubbish because they were all natural, made from fruit purees and didn’t show up on anything! I guess they were just a bad choice all round.

Overall, I would estimate that’s around £10 of wasted food here which disappoints me on every level. Often we have suggested food gifts would be more suitable to us as Minimalists- however, ultimately they can create just as much waste. I would much prefer that people don’t send us gifts or postcards. However, there are some older members of my family who just can’t break this tradition. I guess the solution is to quickly and discretely pass the items on to those who really can use them. Or possibly try talking to them again about the fact we really don’t need gifts etc.

Have you looked in your cupboards recently? What strategies do you have to try and avoid as much waste as possible? How do you deal with gifts from well-meaning friends and relatives? I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions.