Elf Bags

Elf Bags, some of which you can purchase here, are an infinitely reusable alternative to gift wrapping. They are perfect for family celebrations, to be reused every year. They can be a gift in themselves, for a friend, with a gift inside, even! That's a double-gift! Your friend can then regift the bag as a gift to someone else or use it for their own family Christmas as a non-gift.  That's a lot of gifting.

Elf Bags are full of happiness and warm, tree-huggy fuzzies
Several years ago I decided to do away with gift wrapping, and instead, started sewing festive bags for our family Christmas merriment.

The idea, which I'm sure originates a long long time ago, in a place far far away, was introduced to me by my mother in law.  She'd sewed a stack of reusable gift bags from some in-your-face Christmas fabric that was sold dirt cheap after the holiday.  The textile made my eyes sore.  With a pained grimace on my face I walked into Spotlight and found some vaguely non-hideous Christmas fabric. I sewed a pile of gift bags. And that's how it happened.  No more mountains of ripped wrapping paper and bits of sticky tape stuck to the cat's behind. Finally I would no longer anxiously linger by the plastic tree, trying to salvage whatever paper was somewhat intact, while everyone else helped themselves to pudding. Instead, the cloth bags would get folded and stashed away with all the decorations, for more gifting next year.

Our family gift bags prop up Christmas trees every year
As with all expanding families, every year we'd find ourselves making more presents and needing more bags. Every year I've been sewing more, with a sneaking suspicion that a family member or two likes to keep their gift bag, instead of returning it.

Last year, on RNZ National, Jesse Mulligan got all the treehuggers to crawl out of their burlap sacks to frantically send in their ideas for alternatives to non-recyclable shiny gift wrap.  Apparently lots of people use it, and many of them contaminate their recycling with it. I emerged from my black burlap sack to email Jesse a photo of my gift bags, and he responded with enthusiasm and a suggestion that I turn this idea into a business. Thanks Jesse, I am acting on your wisdom and turning my house into some sort of a sweat shop to create Elf Bags.

Elf Bags come in a variety of sizes, fabric types and textile designs.  The sizes are loosely grouped into Small, Medium and Large, and there are a few narrow, long bags also. Someone told me they are good for wine bottles.

Festive Reds

Stylish neutrals

Bold blacks

Would you like an Elf Bag? No, you would like a large stack of Elf Bags. That's excellent! You can buy some from my Storenvy shop. I will be selling them at the Brooklyn Christmas market on Saturday, December 8th.  Alternatively, you're welcome to browse the Elf Bag gallery and get in touch to let me know which bags you'd like to collect from me. I can also post them to you, if it can arrive before the gifting obligations.  I will keep adding photos to the gallery over the next few days and weeks.

Custom Elf Bags
If you have some fabric you're particularly fond of, I'm happy to sew custom Elf Bags for you.  Elf Bags are an alternative to gift wrapping, so they will most likely be used only for birthdays and other gift-centered celebrations, and with good care, should last for generations. That's generations of not forking out on wrapping paper every year. You might need to wash an Elf Bag once a decade or so, which means that precious fabrics of high sentimental value but little practical application are perfect for this purpose.
Oh look, a decorative snowflake. I make those, too.

Perhaps you have your old baby blanket that will never snuggle another baby, but it's a shame to feed it to the moths in the attic.

Maybe your kids have grown out of their cutesy dinosaur curtains, and the curtain edges are too sun-faded, and they are too old to give away, but you want to hold on to the fond memories of curtain peekaboos and infectious giggles, and it's fun to test the progeny's knowledge of Dracorexes vs Eoraptors when the are twenty. 

You might have some hideous holiday shirts that are too offensive to wear, but their nostalgia value is phenomenal.
How about those neat decorations for your custom Elf Bag?

There's that psychedelic tea towel that your, now deceased, uncle gave you ten years ago.  You never actually used it, but it seems disrespectful to take it to a charity store.  Show your relatives that you cherish the memory of your eccentric uncle by transforming the towel into a gift bag to sit under the family Christmas tree.

How about your grandma's selection of novelty scarves?

That Christmas table cloth that got a massive hole burned in it by a rogue firework that your inebriated cousin let off last year? Grandpa was not impressed.  Only a third of the table cloth is completely wrecked.  The other two-thirds, made into Elf Bags, will remind your family about the fireworks incident.  That might keep the cousin from drinking too much this year, and Grandpa can find someone else to swear at.

An Elf Bag can have a family story to tell. A funny story or a really weird one; and every year, when the gifts are bagged under the tree, the stories are retold and new tales join the family history.

Santa has a big sack. It's full of naughty children who accept sweets from bearded strangers in eccentric attire.
If you need some inspiration, have a look in the gallery for examples of ready made Elf Bags.

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