The cleverest holiday gift wrap I ever have seen was as ugly as it was unique. It came from the mind of a teenage boy, who used pieces of drywall to wrap his gift. Nails served as tape, and duct tape was ribbon. It did the trick to disguise the gift for sure, but more than that, it was entertaining and memorable. So, what do you have around the house that could double as gift wrap? Our first reader tip offers a great idea that would make any gift stand out as both attractive and unique.
• MAP WRAP. Many public libraries sell old books, magazines and periodicals. I buy old maps for 10 cents each and use them as wrapping paper for gifts. I buy plain ribbon from the $1 bin at my local craft store. Some people spend $20 for gift wrapping for the holidays; I spend $2. If only books and magazines are available, buy old copies of National Geographic with maps inside and use those. — Melissa C., California
• TURKEY TIP. Supermarkets often run good sales on whole turkeys before and after the holidays. I remove the legs and wings and pack them separately in freezer bags. One turkey can make quite a few meals, and it’s easier to fit in the freezer once it’s cut apart. — Jill M., e-mail
• GIFT GAME. My daughter started a game with the presents at Christmastime. We wrap gifts without name tags. Each person chooses a gift and, after opening it, tries to determine whom it is for. We also wrap “junk” in fancy packages and watch the faces as each gift is opened. Then we hand out the real gifts after the laughter dies down. The important thing is to know your family and what would work with them to make it fun. — Veronica B., e-mail
• CHRISTMAS TREE SKIRT. Several years ago, I gave up on the velvet Christmas tree skirts that need to be dry-cleaned. Instead, I use a metallic flannel-backed tablecloth. They come in gold, silver, red or green for $1 to $5. I cut in from one side to the middle and place it around the base of the tree. I tuck it in and scrunch it up a little, and it reflects the tree light. After Christmas, I clean the skirt with a damp cloth or just throw it out with the other holiday trash. — Bonnie K., California
• IMAGINATIVE IDEA. This Christmas, my family has agreed not to spend our usual amount of money on one another. Instead, we’re going to buy one another small gifts. Then we’re going to pretend we have a million dollars, cut out photos of the gifts we would give to one another from magazines or catalogs, tape the pictures inside boxes with notes saying why we wanted to give these gifts, and wrap up the boxes in beautiful paper with bows! — Pamela B., New York