Sunday, December 5, 2010

Steal This Trashy Idea

We usually give homemade jelly to neighbors and teachers for Christmas, packaged nicely with a box of crackers. It's personal, and the recipient doesn't have to eat it right away, so they can spread the holiday caloric orgy out a bit. I don't know exactly how much this jelly-giving costs. Pectin runs about $3 per batch (of around 2-3 quarts of finished product); sugar may cost me about a dollar per batch; the fruit is homegrown, the cost is minor; the lids and rings are another $4 or $5. We only just barely finished using up the jelly jars that came with the house, so that will add a bit to the cost next year. So maybe a dollar or two of cash cost per jar? (The time involved is much more significant, but that's not what I'm accounting for today.)

I do, however, know how much it costs to make the jelly jars presentable as gifts. Gift bags are absurdly expensive. From $1.99 to 4.99 for an 8" x 6" x 3" bag (plus tissue), for a container that may very well be thrown out after one use, and almost certainly can't be recycled. My little green heart just can't quite fathom it.

I used to look for once-used bags at yard sales, but I haven't done much of that this year (my kids are too big for most of the wares one finds at yard sales around here). White paper craft bags are one way to go, but they were sold out when I last needed them. I've tried just tying the jelly jar and box of crackers together with pretty ribbon. No joy. Maybe it's just me, but it looks like a 6-year-old did it. So I've been looking for other options.

Coincidentally, I've also been looking for ways to recycle my kids' juice pouches. Yes, I know, I should be sending them to school with reuseable beverage containers. You do that with an ADHD kid for a year and see how many reuseable beverage containers you go through. We're sticking with the juice pouches.

Last year I realized that mylar juice pouches could be sewn together when I saw bags like this one from online "green" retailers. They really aren't my style, so I never bought one. But I did collect a few of my kids' empty juice pouches, run them through the washing machine and play around with sewing them together. Nothing came of it until this week, however, when it finally occurred to me that I didn't have to use the printed side as the outside.

This is a week's worth of juice pouches. the flat sections are zigzagged together, then joined at the corners with a straight stitch. No sewing with the right sides together and turning them right-side out, however. Mylar juice pouches are too stiff for that. (Now that I think about it, though, maybe I could try a leathercrafting technique and hammer the seams flat...)
The finished product is still a little rough. But don't be surprised if next year's holiday goodies go out in handcrafted recycled mylar bags. Shall we start a trend?


  1. I think that's great!
    We have a gift bag in our family that says Happpy Birthday. It's been given twice, so it's now becoming the joke to keep birthday gifting with it to see who gets it next.

  2. I sew gift bags - they're essentially a pillowcase with a ribbon tie set into the seam. If I want to get *really* fancy I square off the bottom.