If you find yourself reaching for that old bag of bows in the back of your closet this year, just call yourself environmentally conscious.
The green trend is extending to the holidays, with giftwrap a primary offender. Experts expect more interest in recyclable and recycled paper for giftwrap this year, and some companies are jumping on that trend.
Gift-givers are also turning what can be the last-minute step in the pre-holiday rush - gift wrapping - into a trendy way to send a personal message.
'Influences like Martha Stewart and publications such as Real Simple have certainly increased interest in consumers adding their own touches to their gift presentation,' said Frank Cirillo of American Greetings Corp.
Here are a few of this year's gift wrap trends:
A green Christmas
Those giant trash bags full of ripped wrapping paper that pile up at the end of every gift-giving session are starting to grate on people who don't want their pretty packages to tax overstretched resources and create more waste.
'Green practices will play a huge role in how consumers will be presenting their gifts this season,' Cirillo said. 'Consumers have told us that they are looking for more alternatives in this vein, while still wanting to offer their gift recipients attractive presents.'
More people are asking for recycled wrapping paper and will be recycling it after use, he said. He and others in the industry weren't sure how the reuse trend would affect sales. But American Greetings is issuing paper specifically designed to be recyclable, without the glitter or other frills that can't be broken down and recast as other paper products. A new fabric gift wrap company, Fwrap, is selling reusable fabric wrappers.
Gift-wrapping has turned into a form of expression, said Joey Diaz, vice president of marketing at Papyrus. Givers want packages to reflect the personality of the recipient, he said, leading them to attach special ornaments, flowers or trim that hint at the surprise inside. A rattle might be attached to a gift for a new mommy, for example, or kitchenware wrapped in a colorful tablecloth.
'Consumers have often taken a great deal of time to find the perfect gift, and they want the presentation to reflect this sentiment,' Cirillo said.
Handmade roll paper and gift bags are big sellers this year, Diaz said, possibly because shoppers are drawn to the unique look of craft wraps that can't be mass produced. The patterns on such papers do not repeat exactly, making the human touch visible to those who look closely. Blueprint magazine suggests creating custom designs with rubber stamps and craft paper.
Nostalgia is key
Frosty and Rudolph never went out of style, but this year they're especially hip. Traditional Christmas icons like Santa, reindeer, ornaments, candy canes and Christmas trees have made their periodic comeback, with a number of companies offering wraps and bags with a variety of twists on the themes.
Big is in for the little ones
Gifts for children tend to be on the larger side, and this year, the patterns on the wrap are sized to match. While adult gift presentation runs the gamut from wraps to boxes, bags or other packages, children's presents are overwhelmingly still wrapped, Cirillo said.
'Parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents enjoy the traditional suspense of children tearing into brightly wrapped packages,' he said, and for the season, that paper will probably be decorated with big, bold patterns to catch kids' attention.
For the picky friend who must control every purchase, or the relative who has everything but could benefit from a night out at a nice restaurant, a gift card is often the perfect solution. And presenting the impersonal piece of plastic is a long-standing problem that just might have a solution this winter, with more retailers offering creative containers for the cards.
Deidre Parkes of Hallmark Cards Inc. said the company is increasing its collection of innovative gift card holders because the cards continue to grow in popularity.