Gift Bags: Bane of my Existence

I hate Gift Bags.  Don’t get me wrong, I love getting gifts.  I just hate when they come in bags.  Why?  Because I (and everyone else, it seems) feel compelled to save those stupid bags that I’m never going to use again.

Here is a sample of the gift bags that are stuffed in the back of my closet, taking up space, never to be used again:

This is approximately 1/100 of the gift bags that I have received throughout my lifetime.  And most of those were given to me during the time that I was pregnant with Josh.  Nearly every gift I received came in a Gift Bag, and my lovely helpers saved every. Single. One of them.  And about five years later, I finally threw all those baby bags away. Ok, I thought I threw them all away.  Turns out I didn’t.  There were still a bunch lurking in there.  And this is only a small portion of the gift bags in my house.  There are a whole bunch more downstairs with all my gift-wrapping supplies.  They’re trying to take over my house.

Maybe it’s because I’m a wrapper.  I come from a long line of wrappers.  My mom is a wicked gift-wrapper, as are several aunts and cousins.  Even my brothers can wrap gifts (one better than the other… the “other” will do it when a gun is held to him, otherwise, he gets his wife to do it… and she’s a wicked wrapper, too)

When I was a kid, I remember going to family Christmas parties, and just looking at all the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree.  No two looked alike.  The bows were all homemade.  There were decorations of lace, pine cones, flowers, anything you could imagine on those gifts.  Often, even the gift tag was a little gift – like a Shrinky Dink (remember those?) ornament with your name emblazoned on the chest of a puppy or something. Sometimes a gift didn’t even look like a gift.  I remember seeing an entire train under the tree once – my mom and dad had taken boxes of fruit and turned them into an engine, cars and a caboose.  How clever is that?

Now, though, wrapping is a lost art.  It has been replaced by the infernal gift bag with a little tissue to “make it look special”, but often, the gift is just shoved in there, not wrapped at all!  What’s the point of that???

I’ve always enjoyed opening presents.  The mystery!  The shredding!  The appreciation of ‘all that work’, but knowing that the work was disposable – that the wrapper took just as much pleasure in watching you shred her work as you are taking in doing the shredding.  And no, I’m not kidding.  I’ve spent time wrapping and decorating presents.  Folding the edges so they’re just so.  Adding the little doo-dads.  Matching ribbon to paper, and creating ornate bows.  I’ve told people who are trying to preserve the paper for use another day… “Just RIP IT!!!”  Why?  BECAUSE I DON’T WANT THE PAPER BACK!!!

Which leads me to my second gift-related pet peeve: saving wrapping paper.  Why do people do this?  Do they really think that the next gift-receiver isn’t going to notice that their gift is wrapped in wrinkled, torn, previously used paper?  That’s almost worse than getting an unwrapped gift that’s been plopped in an old Hannah Montana gift bag!  And it makes you wonder what’s really in there?  If they can’t afford gift-wrap, what kind of cheesy, second-hand, used-up item lurks beneath?  Probably that White Elephant that’s been sitting in a box on a shelf collecting dust for ten years.

Please.  Take mercy on your recipients.  Spend a few extra minutes wrapping the gift.  Make a bow (don’t know how?  I’ll show you.  It’s tremendously easy, and looks SO MUCH BETTER than those stupid pre-fab, pre-sticky ones).  Let your receiver know that you care enough to take the time to wrap the gift, and that you care enough to let her enjoy the opening.  Because taking a gift out of a gift bag is about as much fun as taking flour out of a Wal-mart bag.  It isn’t.

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27 Responses to Gift Bags: Bane of my Existence

  1. Joy says:

    Oh how I love this post. I’ll be back in the morning. I’m computered out now and need some Wii bowling.

  2. Sue says:

    I like to wrap presents, but I have given gift bags as well as received them and ya know what? They’ve saved my butt in a last minute pinch when I forgot to get wrapping paper for the gift I bought. I save bags too, but only the ones that are perfect! No wrinkles or creases or written on tags. My grandma Claus was a mean gift wrapper and she always made them look neat with bows and ribbon and stuff, but some stuff just doesn’t fit in a box! That odd sized item that really doesn’t have a good way to be wrapped has put me through some stress before, but thankfully you can get any size gift bag these days. Sorry Laura, I’m going to have to disagree on this one!

  3. Jenny says:

    Gift bags for us, our so convienent. Why? Because people give us gift bags so I reuse them!! LOL It takes time to wrap, and I’m such a terrible present wrapper! Really I am, just ask my family. So I like gift bags. I have a few in my basement that come in handy from time to time.

  4. SKL says:

    I do both. I normally like to wrap, but it’s good to have those gift bags handy in case you are down to the wire and have no time to wrap. I also use the gift bags for my kids’ and friends’ birthday gifts. Easier for them and me. I should probably make it a point to use up some of the Christmas gift bags I have, though, because I would normally not use those for my kids or close family.

    As for saving wrapping paper, I remember when my grandma used to admonish me to do this, so I would do it for her sake (when she was there), but I never re-used it. She lived through the depression and I could see why she’d feel like pretty, re-useable paper shouldn’t be wasted. Nowadays, not only is paper easily accessible, but it’s usually recycled anyway, so waste is less of an issue. Also, how often are you going to have another gift exactly the right size for that paper? How much paper would be saved indefinitely until the right size gift came along again? Nah, not for me.

  5. LVISS says:

    You have two hands and carry only one and not two at a time. You would look odd carrying two bags.
    when I was serving in the Bank I used to get diaries by the dozen so much so that when I get more than what I can use I used to wish no one else comes up with another.

  6. Morocco says:

    I save the bags as well because most of them are pricey and I just hate to waste anything. I use the smaller ones to carry my lunch in when I go to work.

  7. Laura says:

    Boy, I was cranky when I wrote this, wasn’t I???

    Ok, let me clarify – gift bags are not the spawn of the devil as I seemed to be thinking up there. I do, however, prefer wrapped gifts. Wrapping is fun.

    I can see the benefit of a well-decorated gift bag to add interest under the tree, or in a pile of gifts. I also understand the time thing, although if you’re going to wrap the present anyway, and decorate the bag, I don’t see how it saves time. I just get irritated when people don’t wrap the gift inside, and just stick it in a bag. THAT’S when it feels like taking flour out of a Wal-mart bag.

  8. Joy says:

    I think this is such a good topic. I wrap whenever possible. For Christmas, I almost always wrap and try and make look pretty with bows and ribbons. I don’t put ribbons on little kids gifts because they’re too hard to open. But I remember “back in the day” LONG before bags, we’d admire the gifts all day while they were under the tree and the nicer they looked and the fancier they were made up, just made it more fun. The Erickson living room was packed with gifts and it was just what we did. I think Sharon and I did the best job if I do say so myself.

    If I’m trying to disguise a gift, I might use a bag or if I buy something like a gift card or am giving money, I think gift bags are cool for that. I do like Jenny mentioned and use bows and tissue paper. I don’t just stick it in a bag.

    I’m known for disguising presents and I’ve been known to use cracker boxes or cereal or 12 packs just so people won’t know what’s inside. I’ll put coins and marbles or buttons in the box also so yes, I spend a lot of time getting my gift ready to give and I really do think it’s important to care about what it looks like. You spend a lot of time choosing a gift and I think it’s so last minute to throw it in a bag. I’ll admit that “at the last minute” I’ve grabbed a gift bag too but more often than not, I don’t buy a gift on the way to an event so I’m never really running “that” behind. Seriously, do people really stop on the way to a birthday party or occasion and buy their gift that “last minute”????? Oh my! I can’t even imagine that. It makes me nervous just thinking about not having a gift that late.

    But, given that all said. I do like the gift bags for some things. I also have a HUGE problem throwing them out. I’m not kidding you but I still have bags from Bailey and Trinity’s baby showers. I’M. NOT. KIDDING! I’m not sure why I can’t just throw them out but time after time I dig through them trying to find “just the right bag” cause I know there’s one somewhere. My grandma used to be so careful when she unwrapped a gift because she either saved the paper because “it was so pretty” or she’d reuse it. I guess when you’re that poor, you have to do that.

    I use both but I only use bags for certain things and I use paper way more.

    • Vicki says:

      Joy, My grandma used to do the exact same thing with the wrapping paper, Save it, reuse it..She took for ever to open a gift Id always say grandma hurry up just rip into that present! lol

    • Karen Joy says:

      I SO remember that about Grandma too.You could always see were the tape had been though but yes,I think it was about saving money.

    • Laura says:

      Ahh, Joy. You are my sister in this and so many things. I wish we lived closer… we could have wrapping parties! It would be SO much fun!

  9. Vicki says:

    Gift bags are not so fun, they are the fast, easy, lazy, expensive way to wrap gifts. I have used gift bags just for those reasons. I think gift bags take the fun out of opening presents. For the most part I wrap everything.

    • Joy says:

      I think it’s way more fun to wrap gifts and I think it’s a lot more fun to open a wrapped gift rather than just lifting it out of a bag. You’re right Vicki. It’s lazy as well as really expensive. Unless you get those dollar store bags, they’re quite expensive.

  10. Nikki says:

    I use bags if it is an odd shape, or a last minute thing. I always have them around. I do wrap the gifts though, at least in tissue. There are some really pretty bags, but I don’t buy those. IF I buy any they are the cheapy $1 ones. I like to open presents, and I actually enjoy wrapping too. I used to work for a retail store that offered gift wrapping, so I had to watch this video on seamless wrapping. So, I’d like to say I am good at it!

    I have nothing against bags, I never really even thought all of this to be honest! I’m a no fuss kinda gal, so getting and receiving a gift in a bag is no biggie to me…it’s what’s inside that matters….and the thought of course. I don’t look at the bag and think, “well they didn’t put too much thought into that” It’s just something I don’t think about.

  11. Karen Joy says:

    I actually love wrapping gifts with paper and think Im not to bad at it.More and more though Im giving gifts in bags and I like those too.I like reusing ones Ive recieved.I think you can make them look really nice too.Such nice bags out there and with pretty colored tissue.So often the gifts are odd shapes so bags are great.Each to their own…its the thought that counts.

  12. Gary says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I can honestly say that I have never given a gift to anyone in a gift bag. I’m a wrapper! I know it’s the thought of the gift that matters but like you said, I like the anticipation of unwrapping the gift to see what it is. I totally suck ass at wrapping gifts but I do it anyway. LOL

    That photo looks like a shelf in my basement. My wife keeps all those gift bags as well and we have got to have like a bazillion of them. LOL

  13. starlaschat says:

    Growing up at Christmas time as a kid I would hear ” save the paper, save the paper. ” I think it was a joke towards my grandmother. At that point I would tear into the paper as fast as I could. It was a bit of a family joke. My grandmother use to wrap amazing gifts always with a special outstanding bow and a trinket I always appreciated gifts from her they were so attractive. I’d say I’m a wrapper I just feel funny about gift bags I don’t know why I think they are pretty and can save time if your in a jam. I think to much ahead so usually plenty of time to wrap.

  14. Laura says:

    On the subject of “saving the paper”… I think things have changed a little over the years. I can remember, when I was a kid, Mom and I would stock up on wrapping paper after Christmas for the next year. We’d find cute stuff, pretty stuff, whatever, and buy it at the 50% off After Christmas Sale. We’d have a TON the next year. So saving paper was never a big deal for us.

    But, because of that habit (which I still have, btw), I’m very conscious of wrapping paper. And WOW has it gone down in quality! Holy COW. The stuff is so thin now that you can almost see through it. One wrong move, and it rips. I’m still ok with Hallmark – the stuff you get in their stores – because it’s a little heavier-duty. But it’s getting really expensive.

    I don’t know, though, if I could ever become a “save the paper-er”. I’m not afraid to switch to plain butcher paper, or brown paper, because I can then use it as a blank canvas for decorations.

  15. SKL says:

    Although I do like to wrap, I’m not big on all the bells and whistles. It depends what it is and for whom, and how many gifts I have to wrap. I think at Christmas, it’s all about quantity – there are so many presents, if everyone took the time to “appreciate” the way they were wrapped, it would take days or weeks to get the job done. And if everyone’s going to just RIP off the paper, then why go the extra mile with the wrapping? Unless, of course, you are one of those families who put presents under the tree in advance and look at them all week. We still do “Santa” so it all shows up on Christmas morning.

    Once I wrapped up a gift for my niece, and decorated it with some pretty Native American bead jewelry that I’d bought during a cross-country trip. She didn’t even realize it and lost the jewelry among the discarded paper. So I am not in a big hurry to do that kind of thing again.

    When I receive a gift that is all decorated, I kinda feel bad busting it up by opening it. Honestly, I prefer to receive a gift that doesn’t involve a lot of fruitless sacrifice on the giver’s part. I guess that is part of my “less is more” mentality.

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