I once watched Jamie Oliver cook a chicken. He made some flour-and-water pastry and rolled it out. He then stuffed the chicken with all sorts of tasty herbs, garlic, butter, onion and other ingredients, placed it on the pastry then folded the pastry around the chicken.
After it had been cooked for about an hour Jamie removed the chicken from the oven, chopped off the corner of the pastry and poured out the wonderful cooking juices.
He then placed the 'chicken pasty' on a huge serving dish and suggested that if we ever made this at home that we then carry it aloft to the dining table. After being placed on the table we should bash the top of the pastry - which would shatter, revealing the yummy chicken underneath.
We were all horrified at the thought of destroying the pastry. But Jamie said that the whole point of the pastry was not to 'eat it' just as a wrapping to cook the chicken in!
And so it is with wrapping Christmas presents, the wrapping is something that once the present is opened, gets thrown away.
So now for some ideas for wrappings which don't become redundant after the present is opened:
Make hampers: from old cardboard boxes, wooden pallets or apple crates. Fill with biodegradable stuffing or old newspapers - and hide gifts inside.
Recycle: ribbons and bows, trawl through charity shops for old paste jewellery or fake precious stone necklaces, snip ribbons off old skirts and dresses, especially the ones which aid hanging up the garment. Ribbons and similar also come from boxes of chocolates.
Collect buttons and feathers. String them all together to make a vintage extravaganza.
Forage: fire cones, pine fronds and be-berried holly sprigs.
Gift tags: cut old Christmas cards into shapes, make hole in corner with punch and thread through string, twine or wool (could plait three colours together for fun).
Search: the beach for little pieces of drift wood, dry them and then hand-punch a hole in a corner. Using chalk or charcoal, inscribe a message, tie to gift with twine or old ribbon.
Save: plastic coated wires (tie tags) from new kitchen utensils or children's toys for attaching tags and decorations.
Print: Potato-print wrapping paper and shoe boxes. Cover shoe box with paper and print on top. For paint could use poster paint or paint left over from decorating.
Ideas: could wrap presents in useful fabric, such as a gift for an avid cook inside a bottling jar, wrapped in a pretty drying-up cloth or vintage cake tin; gift for a gardener inside a flower pot; gift for a child inside a flannel or knitted hat; a gift of anyone wrapped in a vintage scarf or cushion cover. Could put a home-made Christmas decoration on a wrapped present to make it look glam.
Reusable: If the paper is to be reused then the less sticky tape used the better. Beautiful pictures from magazines make wonderful wrapping paper too or you could wrap a present with newspaper of a date which is special to the recipient.
Of course, if you have a small child, kitten or a dog in the house, they just love to play with the wrappings, so everything is being recycled anyway!
Using imagination the list is endless ...