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A last-instant wrapping idea: try newsprint. Cheap, creative, and simple.

Step 1: ...searching...

Find newspaper with interesting graphics. The NY Times is great, check their Arts and Travel sections. Heading for the comics is the classic way to pull this off.

Scissors and tape also needed. Oh, and a gift of sorts. I'll demonstrate on a book, because a scented candle never changed anyone's life.

Step 2: You're the Editor

Open up and trim that paper. (You may elect to read it first. My gift's recipient asked me about the Lincoln article and only then did I realize it sounded interesting; I'll have to look for it online.)

Put your newspaper image and item facedown. Center your gift on the print and cut it so the left and right edges can be folded over the gift and just barely overlap. The top and bottom need only be as wide as the gift has depth. Apply tape.

Step 3: A Side With That

Push in the short edges then fold the other sides over. Ideally, the final finishing fold will be neat (it's the only one showing) and will angle towards the back of the gift. This avoids spoiling Honest Abe's portrait. Repeat for the other side.

Step 4: That's a Wrap

There you go. Total cost: six inches of tape and five minutes of life.

Write a note on another piece of newspaper to identify gifter/giftee. Or just write on the paper itself. Maybe add twine. Enjoy the season of consumption with a little recycling.
What's cool to is to use newspapers from other countries. We have a few neat Asian stores nearby and I have often thought about buying one of their newspapers to wrap gifts. I love the beautifully graphic look of Asian lettering.
youd be amazed how awesome gifts look wrapped in newspaper with eg.green ribbons tied around them. i love it :)
For the Christmas season the color fliers they insert into newspapers work quite well as gift wrap. So long as you don't mind having prices displayed all over. I've been doing it for a couple of years now (on purpose, not as a last minute thing). It is surprising how well they blend in among all the other gifts. I use the ones that are Christmas themed and can be pretty picky about it as there are so many to choose from. Though I do try to use more of the glossy ones as they don't take them for recycling here so they are just going to the landfill otherwise. The stuff I don't use makes its way into the recycling as per normal. Basically its recycling, crafty, cheap, and a commentary on the commercialism of Christmas all in one :)
Christmas and birthdays? The Sunday comics.<br />
Cheap, creative and recycling. Great!<br />
I used newspaper for most of my wrapping. It is the perfect size for many small/medium sized gifts. Plus, it is cheap!

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