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Wrap it up!

Jan./Feb. 2016 California Bountiful magazine

Recycling household agricultural products for gift giving




El Dorado County Farm Bureau's Reneé Hargrove shows some of the many agricultural products she recycles into gift-giving boxes, bags and wraps.

These ideas from Reneé Hargrove, executive director of El Dorado County Farm Bureau, will inspire you to find all kinds of ways to recycle everyday items. From crafting a Valentine's Day gift box out of strawberry containers (see below), or making gift bags with tomato and citrus netting, or using woody sprigs from the garden to decorate a gift box, the possibilities go on and on.

"I'm often asked how different wrapping ideas come to me and the best answer is that it's handy to simply look at things differently, not take them at face value," Hargrove said. "Turn them sideways and upside-down."

When it comes to repurposing, Hargrove suggests:

  • Be creative and fearless; there are no mistakes.
  • Save bags, containers, string, leather, burlap, tree bark and metal. What you find to be useful from sheds, gardens, barns and along roadsides might surprise you.
  • The use of natural materials will lend texture and depth; layering and building decorative elements allow you to use whatever is handy.

"Also, imagine what the gift recipient's favorite things are and then create a theme," she said. "It has been fun to discover how much people enjoy receiving a gift wrapped uniquely and especially for them."

Here, Hargrove shares how to create gift boxes from strawberry containers:



Strawberry basket gift box

  1. Place one strawberry basket on top of the other, rims touching.
  2. On one side, create hinges about 2 inches apart with twine or ribbon or whatever you'd like to tie together basket tops—and tie loosely enough to allow the box to easily open and close.
  3. Open box and fill the bottom basket with straw, shredded or crinkled paper, leaves, grass or other nesting material. Place gift item in center. Add more nesting material if you wish to hide the item.
  4. Close box and secure it with ribbon, twine, beads or whatever you'd like. Try different closure methods, such as creating a clasp from an old clip earring or barrette.
  5. Embellish the outside of the baskets by gluing or taping on dried flowers, artwork, additional beads or ribbon, etc. Weave ribbon, twine or mini-ornaments through the baskets, and let your imagine fly!



Strawberry clamshell gift box

  1. Remove label and wash container. Add nesting materials, seasonal ornaments, burlap, crumpled wax paper or fabric.
  2. These containers are great for placing another box or small gift bag inside, filled with jewelry, treats, candles and more. The clear quality lends itself to having fun while trying to hide the gift that's inside! If the gift will be given at night, place battery-operated flicker votive candles inside.
  3. Tie mesh ribbon, hay-baling twine, shoelaces or whatever you have handy around the entire box and embellish with dried flowers, cutouts, etc.

Options: Glue paper or fabric to the inside bottom and outside top, using gems, rickrack trim, glitter, etc. If the contents are aromatic, such as dried herbs or bath salts, place them in opaque bags so the scent can waft through the container. Decorate the inside bags or gifts and add simple decorations to the box to ensure the contents are the focus.


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