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Wrapping in Style

LLUM Christmas Store

Last week Mary Tobin and I took a fun outing over to the Little Lights Christmas Store. (I help out at Little Lights Urban Ministries as much as I can now that the princesa is here—which, let’s be honest, has been far less than I expected. As Israel likes to point out, she’s a tough boss.)

The Christmas Store is a new tradition for Little Lights, replacing a big party, which in years past has been held at a church in Maryland with volunteers and donors providing food, gifts, etc. This year all those resources were channeled into smaller celebrations within LLUM’s after-school programs, and then—drumroll—the Family Center was transformed into the Christmas Store for four days.

The parents of Little Lights kids received an invitation to shop (and enjoy Christmas music, cookies, coffee, and hot chocolate) and select a gift for their child from 200+ toys. Video here.

Instead of kids each receiving a gift at our Christmas Party in early December, parents got to choose the gift and save it for Christmas morning, or whenever their family celebration is.

Although the kids always loved the party and went crazy for their gifts (video of the madness here: “A baby alive!!!!”), the Christmas store will return since it’s more empowering for parents and keeps the celebration within the neighborhood.

Parents wrapped their gifts and wrote cards or gift tags, and I got to help with wrapping a little bit, which I love.

Typically, this is how my wrapping goes. I save all gift bags, ribbons, tissue paper, and salvageable gift wrap supplies from any event. I hoard them in my closet, which makes no sense given our place is tiny urban and hip. I also hold on to bags from local stores that could be used for gifts. (Y’all, not Victoria’s Secret bags, but brown ones or solid color ones. Lots of little shops or food places use generic bags without their logo.) I have a roll of brown butcher paper, which I must’ve grudgingly bought at some point. So, my favorite gifts are wrapped in brown paper or a brown bag, then have a bright fun ribbon.

Here are some inspiring images from a quick pinterest search:

Did you spot the awesome household items: newspaper, neon office supply stickers, cup cake wrappers!?

What are your wrapping tricks? Huge ribbon? Comics? Help us out with your wrapping wisdom.

P.S. The Washington Post Magazine ran this little piece a couple weeks ago, about a girl at a shelter who was just so happy she got a gift with her name on it, that didn’t say, “Girl, age 11.” Wow, that was killer. And it reinforced to me the wisdom of updating the Little Lights Christmas traditions. I don’t know what it will mean for you, but it challenges me to think about how our good deeds this Christmas can focus more on filling a real need, rather than fulfilling our own need to do a good deed. What are your thoughts?

OK, guys, sorry this post is schizophrenic. That’s two action items. You don’t have to do both. Wrapping technique? Thoughts about better/more empowering charitable giving?


4 thoughts on “Wrapping in Style

  1. Well – thinking of your first assignment, the wrapping techniques,(1) I remember that when we were young, lots of friends and family members would save the Sunday comics, or ‘the funnies,’ for several weeks before Christmas and use that for wrapping paper. We would use red and green markers to draw Christmas shapes and names on the packages. (2) I have a friend who used to save her prettiest Christmas cards, cut the front off of them, and tape them onto packages with solid colored paper. (That overlaps with Elizabeth’s question about what to do with old Christmas cards!)
    As for your 2nd assignment, I recently read ‘Toxic Charity’ by Robert Lupton. It was very thought provoking; he would definitely prefer the Little Lights Store over the “Christmas party with madness’ approach!
    Ho! Ho! Ho!

    • Mama Rote, you get bonus points for completing both assignments. You’ve turned into the best blog reader!

      I like the Christmas card idea. Could work well with my brown paper.

      I’ll have to borrow the Lupton book from you.

  2. I guess since I’m on break I’m not on my google reader as much.
    Have you seen Japanese tape? Sometimes those look so cute on brown paper.

    I recently made hot chocolate cones for my sunday school class. Inexpensive way to buy gifts for a large amount of people. I took cellophane cone shape treat bags, put hot chocolate mix, top with milk chocolate and on top of that top small marshmallows, tie it with bakers twine and voila! I’ve noticed that holiday tags are expensive so I bought shipping tags at Staples, stamped some holiday cheer on it and tied it with the bakers twine. I’ll give you one next time I see you! :D

    As to the second half- I was a bit sad we didn’t have the big sha’bang LL party but I enjoyed the Christmas Store so much. It’s more empowering when a parent is giving the gift to their own child. SNL (Mike/Min Cha’s group at church) did a four week advent season on giving more. (inspired from http://adventconspiracy.org/ – promo video is pretty good) First week was Min’s sister who shared about her work as a social worker helping families in transitional homes, last week was a friend of ours who started a non-profit in Philly that helps low income high school kids get into college, yesterday at their Christmas party was me/Crissy sharing about LL and today was a UVA grad who was a Leukemia survivor and started a non profit to get people to be bone marrow donors all by swabbing your cheek.

    Amazing huh? This is turning to a long post so we should meet after break! hahaha xoxo

    • Jane! These two subjects are right up your ally! I had to approved your comment since it was so long, ha! I love your wrapping style. And I love that tape. I saw someone use decorative tape to seal envelopes with invitations. Looked great, and no licking the envelopes.

      Merry Christmas!

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