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20th Dec 2016

Christmas Wrapping

’Tis the season… when printing is everywhere! 

As many households across the UK gaze despondently at their overflowing recycling bins, we look at all of the different types of paper that have played such an important, and yet temporary, role over Christmas.


Christmas Cards

You’re likely to hold one of two positions on Christmas cards: The Lover, who delights in every card sent and every card received. They appreciate the intricate details on display - the glitter, card cutting and festive cheer on a show. Then there’s the Hater, who finds it all a bit outdated, who doesn’t see why an email shouldn’t suffice - there are after all some lovely designs in cyberspace. Both are equally valid, and although the number of cards sent has decreased year on year, the UK still sent 1.7 billion cards in 2014. So there are clearly a lot of Christmas card lovers out there - and it is for this reason that the Victorian tradition of giving cards at Christmas is unlikely to die out completely.


Wrapping Paper

Santa and his elves get through an inordinate amount of this stuff. Each year the UK alone uses 226,800 miles of wrapping paper. The excitement of slowly (or maniacally depending on the age of the children) uncovering the nature of a gift is intrinsic to Christmas for most families. It’s also the source of some family-specific traditions; does your family go for one design for stocking presents and others for the tree? Does each family member have their own chosen design or do you share? When something evolves into the family tradition, it can be hard to break.


Letters to Santa

It is likely that St Nic accepts email, he probably even tweets and will occasionally engage in Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. However, there’s nothing that quite beats a six-year old’s thoughtful scrawl and questionable declarations of a year of good behaviour. I’m not entirely certain where all the letters that are posted to the official address given by Royal Mail: Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ, end up but maybe Santa does get them all. All 800,000 of them from the UK alone!


Paper Chains

The Christmas decoration that never lasts more than one year. Part of the fun is the making… and then more making when it collapses overnight… and then the making again… you get the picture! However, this crafty activity is a genius way to keep children entertained for a good 30 minutes while you get some proper Christmas decoration done.


Advent Calendars 

Whether you’re a traditionalist who likes to uncover a picture behind each door through December, or a chocoholic who can't wait for that daily fix, these little card doors unveil a sprinkle of festive magic every day in the run-up to Christmas. It is a shame to see it in the recycling pile come Christmas day, which is probably why many manufacturers include cutting and crafting on the back of the calendar. It’ll still end up on the recycling pile eventually, but it certainly feels less wasteful to find a second use for the cardboard.


So do we really need to use paper over the festive season? The short answer is probably yes - but not necessarily so much. There is no getting away from the fact that paper is the most used material for the Christmas season, indeed festive traditions seem to have built many of their foundations on this material. For the future, conscientious buying and attentive recycling are key. Pay attention to your local recycling rules, choose non-metallic wrapping paper and re-use when you can, not forgetting to re-purpose your Christmas card fronts as gift tags when Christmas 2017 comes around. Your efforts needn\'t be high cost or high effort. As with all things festive - it is the thought that counts.