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It’s a Wrap!

Ten unexpected ways to spruce up that brown paper package


Want a cheap, easy alternative to dreidel-print gift wrap? Buy a roll of Kraft paper. It’s easy to decorate, easy to work with, and looks elegantly rustic with the smallest effort. Here are ten unexpected ways to spruce up that brown paper package.

  1. Tied up with string. Use colored twine to tie your package — black looks super sharp. Add a matching gift tag. Voila. It’s one of my favorite methods.
  2. Lovely labeling. Grab a gold paint marker and use your prettiest, loopiest script to write the recipient’s name on each package. Tie with a ribbon. For a more casual look, use grosgrain ribbon, tied off center, and write the name vertically, in block letters, with a Sharpie.
  3. Sweet treats. Tie gifts with ribbon or string. Add candy of choice instead of a bow. Chocolate coins are particularly apropos, but anything goes!
  4. Add some lace. Tape a strip of lace around the package, followed by a satin ribbon. Sweet and sophisticated.
  5. Tape it up. Make diagonal lines over your package using washi tape — the shinier the better! Or use tape to make a menorah.
  6. White out blizzard. Grab a bottle of white out. Hand it to a child you trust, along with a wrapped package. Let ’em make polka dots. Let dry, add ribbon, and admire. If you have particularly artistic offspring, let them doodle with a white out pen.
  7. Darling doilies. Find a doily that will fit onto the top of your package. Attach it with double-sided tape. Write the recipient’s name in the center. Done! This also works with those paper snowflakes your kids make.
  8. Pretty pleats. Allow for an extra 6–12 inches (15–30 cm) when cutting paper to size. Fold a few pleats into the paper, making sure the creases are super sharp. Tape the pleated ends and wrap as usual. Slide a bright card into one of the pleats for a snazzy finish.
  9. Cheat. Grab a sharpie. Draw a bow. Add lines where you’d place ribbons. Let everyone think it was an intentional design choice. (This looks super cute, so that’s actually a valid argument.) 10. A picture is worth a thousand bows. This one is particularly beautiful for bubbies and zeidies: Print your favorite family photos in black and white or sepia tone. Wrap a ribbon around a gift and top with a picture. After all, isn’t family the greatest gift?Get the Grease

Whether it’s the neiros that attack you or the latkes, Chanukah laundry can be a challenge. Luckily, you don’t have to be a Maccabi to defeat grease! Try these instead:

For oil, make sure you’re working with dry fabric; pre-treatment, water will just trap the stain in the cloth. Blot up as much grease as possible. Then rub in some of your favorite dish soap. (Hey, it’s designed to wash away grease.) Let sit for five minutes. Rinse with warm water, then wash in the hottest water possible with detergent and Oxiclean. Air dry, check for stains, and repeat process if necessary. Don’t use a dryer until the stain is gone.

For candle wax, let harden and scrape away as much as possible with a spoon or butter knife. Heat an iron to low heat. Sandwich stained fabric between sheets of brown paper or paper towels and iron until the wax residue is gone. Replace paper as necessary. Wash with detergent and Oxiclean.


Dollar Store Deals

It’s winter. The nights are long and cold. Your kids haven’t been outside in a week and your sanity is slipping. Salvation is at hand! Head to the dollar store, my friend. Here’s what to stock for simple, inexpensive activities that will keep everyone happy.

  • Check out the selection of miniature cooking tools for your play kitchen and pick up a few sets of tongs. Have your little one sort pompoms by color using mini tongs to strengthen fine motor skills. Challenge everyone to clean up the living room without touching any toys with their hands. Design a wacky race. Everything is more fun when you’re using a knipper!
  • While you’re there, grab some measuring cups and spoons, dish basins, and maybe some strainers. These are great for sensory play with any material, be it water, sand, snow, or something more exotic. Oh, and take a few cookie sheets. They’re perfect for magnetic play, especially in the car, and they also help contain painting messes.
  • Moving on to the food aisle: Pick up cornstarch and baking soda for slimes, snows, and science experiments of all sorts. You’ll also find coffee filters here. Use them for snowflakes, flowers, butterflies… There are a gazillion things you can do with thin, precut paper circles. If you’re brave enough to allow food coloring as a craft supply, take a box, but know that it’s exceedingly non-washable.
  • Toiletries next! Buy lots of shaving cream. Use it to keep the little ones happy at bath time, and feel free to keep dispensing as you read Mishpacha beside the tub. (Guilty!) If you’re a sensory-play sort of family, get conditioner and baby oil, for making cloud doughs, clays, and snows.
  • Check out the office-supply and craft-supply aisle, making sure not to miss the stickers (I like the boxed rolls in the school section), and if you’re up for painting projects, the canvases. Take a look at the coloring and activity books to see what works for you.
  • Before you leave, find some spray bottles (check the utility, cleaning, and hair-supply sections). Have the kidoodles “help” you clean, stage a bathtub water fight, or add food coloring and paint some snow — the possibilities are endless!

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 721)

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