Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Why I recycle holiday trimmings and cards December 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:31 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

ONCE THE GIFTS are opened—after we’ve played the steal-the-presents game—gift wrap and trimmings are scooped up in a furious rush to rid the room of rubbish.

And if I’m not quick enough, I miss the opportunity to salvage ribbons and bows, tissue paper and gift bags.

I cannot bear to see these items trashed. My extended family knows this about me and they laugh as I hurry to gather in the goods at our annual holiday get together.

I used festive holiday trim and a card from Christmases past to decorate this gift.

I used festive holiday trim and a card from Christmases past to decorate this gift.

But I was raised right, by a Depression era mother who saved everything. As the eldest daughter in a family of six children, I assumed some of her saver traits, including the recycling of holiday trimmings.

I do not, however, rescue wrapping paper as Mom did so many years ago while a farm wife guarding every penny. She would fold each piece of gift wrap with great care, attempting to remove strips of Scotch tape without ripping the paper. And then she would pack the pretty paper away with the previously used bows to reuse the following Christmas.

Examples of Christmas cards in my stash that could be recycled into gift tags.

Examples of Christmas cards in my stash that could be recycled into gift tags.

Like my mom, I also learned to recycle holiday greeting cards into gift tags. Why not? With a few snips of the scissors, I have a lovely tag to adorn a present.

I like to think, as I’m clipping cards and gathering the pretties ripped from presents, that I am honoring my mother, honoring an entire generation of Americans who saved and scrimped and got by as best they could with what they had.

We could all learn from them.

Long before recycling and going green became trendy buzz words, they already understood the importance of reusing/repurposing.

A recycled ribbon and card grace this package.

A recycled ribbon and card grace this package.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Do you recycle anything from the holidays?

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


30 Responses to “Why I recycle holiday trimmings and cards”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Yep—your mom and mine are cut from the same cloth. To the point where she gets made fun of at times….One of the bloggers I follow has a piece on Huffington Post about recycling for gift wrap along with a bunch of other things she has made using repurposed items. It is amazing what she comes up with. Here is a link to her blog so you can check it out.http://reinventingtheeventhorizon.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/10-steps-to-holiday-ecology-diy-gift-wrapping-with-trash/

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I checked out the link you suggested and agree that the ideas are quite creative. Wow, I could never think of this stuff. But I wouldn’t have the time and patience either to do all she’s done with the package featured in the post. It’s like a work of art.

      • Beth Ann Says:

        She is an artist, for sure, and really has an eye for color and using her imagination. I limit my wrapping to fairly ordinary most times—I have cats that like ribbons, etc. And I don’t like the consequences of them eating it! 🙂

  2. Erin Says:

    My mother in law does reuse and repurpose everything from the holidays. She comes from a large family of 10 children and parents that were from the Depression era as well.
    I love seeing how she creates cards and gift tags with old items. I, however, am not too good with reusing items. I do recycle all the cardboard from my children’s toys, but not much more than that. This post has inspired me to think before I toss things away. Merry Christmas!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Excellent that your mother-in-law reuses and excellent that you will now consider it.

      A Merry Christmas to you also, Erin!

  3. I mostly use fabric ribbons which I reuse for years. I save the boxes to use for future gifts.

    What I really want to know is: what is the steal-the-presents game?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      If I ever had to purchase ribbon, which I don’t because I have such a collection, I would buy fabric, like you.

      As for the steal-the-presents game, we each buy a $10 gift, suitable for a man or a woman or either. Then we draw numbers and in numerical order choose a gift then open it. The next person can either “steal” that gift or pick another. Gifts can only be stolen two or three times or something like that. The whole game becomes quite entertaining, especially when several people want the same gift. Great fun for a large group.

  4. My parents were Depression-era, too, and I remember being taught to fold up the paper from my Christmas presents instead of crumpling it up. I don’t do that anymore – I just put the used wrapping paper in our recycling bin. But I love making gift tags from last year’s holiday cards. I’ve been doing that for several years. And bows get reused until they are so rumpled they don’t really look all that great anymore. Boxes and bags all get reused. One year, I felt particularly domestic and sewed “Santa bags” from red and green fabric instead of using paper bags. I hope those are still being circulated somewhere!
    Merry Christmas, Audrey!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m laughing at the rumpled bow comment because eventually some of these bows do have to be tossed.

      I bet those felt Santa bags are out there somewhere and perhaps will make their way back to you eventually.

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Kathleen!

  5. Amber Says:

    Oh good! The pretty one is for me!!!

  6. Amy Says:

    We do something like the steal-the-gift game you mention with my dad’s family. Except it involves dice. We have multiple pairs of dice floating around, often in a pie tin, while we sit in a circle…or as much of a circle as you can with upwards of 40 people…and pass the plate. Everyone brings $1 gifts (favorites are 2 liter bottles of pop, Little Debbie snacks, and other trinkets) and whenever doubles are rolled, you get a gift. You aren’t allowed to steal the gift until the table is empty of presents. It is certainly fun. Ever played the game of Apples to Apples? With 20 people?! There is no going back to the game of 6-8 after that…..I do love my family…And CHRISTmas!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      We played the gift game with dice at Family Game Night at church. It took forever and I NEVER rolled doubles, which was quite boring for me.

      Sounds like your extended family has a great time together. Mine does also, even bunking out overnight in my middle brother’s basement.

      Will you get in on the family Christmas this year?

  7. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    We used to but when we downsized our living quarters we had to give up keeping much of anything.

  8. Tom & DeLores Johnson Says:

    Hi Audrey,

    Yes I save Christmas cards and remake them into Christmas Cards for Veterans. I donate them to our local American Legion and they distribute them to V.A. hospitals and nursing homes Vets. I have been told that for some of them it is the only Christmas card they receive. They did lots for me and my country and I can do some
    little thing to make them happy.

    Your packages look beautiful.


    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, DeLores, this just warms my heart to hear how you are recycling Christmas greeting cards to make cards for our veterans. I would like to hear more about this project so I am going to email you with some questions. I’d like to post about this if you’re willing to share more.

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    Your post is a little similar to mine, Audrey! I was talking about my mother’s generation too and how they saved the butter wrappers to line their cake tins but how we just chuck them out and buy brown paper and baking paper to line our tins. We are so wasteful compared with the previous generation. I’m trying to be more like them and I’m glad you are too xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That whole idea of saving butter wrappers simply seemed so ingenious. Whatever we can do, every little bit helps.

  10. Love your holiday recycling program:) I enjoy doing this too, especially gift bags (who throws out gift bags anywho?!?). Have a Great One!

  11. treadlemusic Says:

    Yup….that’s me, too! And the family knows it. When finished opening a gift, the paper/wrapping is immediately handed to me. Paper irons really well…LOL! Gift bags are even easier!!! I have cards from years back! It’s a sickness…..LOL!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      OK, I do not save the paper and iron it. You most assuredly receive the Christmas wrap recycling award.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        It’s a sickness, I tell you!!!! Please, don’t send my name in to “Hoarders”….Puh-leeze!!!!!! Heehehe!
        Still waiting for the snow….it’s just south of us…”on our ‘doorstep'”!!!!!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        So, give me a snow report now, Doreen, some 12-plus hours after you submitted this comment.

        And, no, I will not report you to hoarders. I will allow your children to do so.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        They have subtly suggested such!!!!!

  12. Vicki Williamson Says:

    You sure did a lovely job onyour packages. Thanks for the ideas! 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much, Vicki. You should see my sister’s packages. Lanae is a floral designer and everything she wraps is almost too beautiful to open.

  13. Bernie Says:

    Your presents look so pretty!!!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family…so fun to have family get-together memories!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Bernie. I hope you’re getting together with your extended family also.

      A blessed Christmas to you and yours!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.