1. What are the best types of wrapping paper?
Kate: The best types of wrapping paper are made from post-consumer waste. There are some wonderful eco gift wrap manufacturers now and their products are the most beautiful on the market as well as being the most environmentally friendly. My favourite is Earth Greetings which do beautiful wrapping paper and gift bags but Biome also have some beautiful alternatives.
I tend to use recycled or found materials - fabric remnants are good, brown paper is a good standby and sometimes the wrap is part of the gift - muslin baby wraps for part of a baby gift, an apron for a kitchen gift, a tea towel, the kids artwork on butcher's paper - I even used oyster shells to wrap pearl earrings once!
Kid's artwork on butcher's paper makes a colourful, unique wrapping paper design
2. What is your wrapping technique? Why is your method the best?
Kate: I have a selection of boxes of gift wrapping supplies because it always seems like we need to put together a hostess gift, a birthday gift or some other gift at short notice when we don't have a lot of time to be shopping around for the gift and then the wrapping paper and embellishments.
I have a selection of papers and recycled ribbons, fabric scraps, gift tags, paper and cloth flowers that I can use to decorate gifts and then I play around with the different patterns and colours to make sure that I come up with a combination that works for the gift, the occasion and the recipient.
3. Ribbon or no ribbon?
Kate: I really think ribbon or some kind of embellishment is necessary so that the gift looks gift wrapped but I don't necessarily buy ribbon. I use upcycled ribbon, fabric scraps, jute string, raffia or wool depending on the overall look of the gift wrap.
Jute string is a natural, inexpensive alternative to ribbon
4. How does your style of wrapping vary for gifts for men, women and kids?
Kate: I tend to keep it simpler for men. I still use beautiful gift wrap but probably string instead of ribbon and a simpler gift tag.
With women's gifts I like a vintage look with lace, embellishments like doilies, paper flowers and decorative gift tags.
I have a lot of fun decorating kids’ gifts. I once made gift wrap into a fabric reuseable noughts and crosses game with Velcro backing on the noughts and crosses. I like making little girls’ gifts pretty and fluffy - strips of tulle look nice as ribbon and I embellish them with pom poms or silk flowers on hair clips that form part of the gift.
Paper flowers add a feminine touch to gift wrap for women
5. What are some cost effective/eco-friendly solutions?
Kate: While there are some lovely reclaimed materials available, I still think the most eco-friendly (not to mention cost effective) solutions are using what you have around you.
I make gift tags from cereal boxes and cover them with thrifted paper or fabric remnants. Using the kids’ artwork for relatives is always appreciated and it’s surprising how good it can look. As set out above, making the wrap part of the present can add to the sense of abundance of the gift while still being beautifully presented.
I also love putting together gift hampers in baskets from thrift stores which can look spectacular - particularly when embellished with herbs or flowers from the garden. I wrap wine in sleeves of old business shirts. I make the main part of the shirt into dresses or shorts for the kids but I don't need the arms. This looks very effective and only requires very basic sewing skills.
One of Kate's gorgeous gift hampers
These tips were kindly shared with us by Kate Schwarz from Gift Club. Kate has developed a gifting App for smartphones, called Gift Club. Users can create searchable wish lists, coordinate group gifts and allocate Secret Santa. Gift Club is a free App that can be found on iTunes here and on Google Play here. You can also find more gift ideas, gift wrap and celebration ideas the Gift Club Facebook page.