I can hear the reindeer practicing their takeoffs, Santa making sure he has enough cough drops so he can “HO, HO, HO” all through the night, the elves are talking in low voices about getting in touch with the union representative, and the noise of wrapping paper, ribbons and other decor going on packages.

Hopefully the number of gifts on hand are higher than the amount of gifts that need to be purchased or come by various delivery businesses. May I suggest some ways to cut back on holiday stress in gift wrapping and related programs? There is a selfish reason for making this statement; it's so I remember to take my own advice! I also had helpful suggestions from friends who are concerned about saving, reuse and recycling year-round.

We can put a big dent in the budget with just buying wrapping paper and labels. It just breaks my heart to see a $6 piece of wrapping paper get ripped to pieces, a $5 card opened and tossed to the side, and $2 of tissue paper rolled in a ball in order to get to the gift. On top of this, most can't be recycled! When shopping for gift wrap, check to see if you can find brands that say they are recyclable. Almost all gift wrap and ribbons can be reused if care is taken during the opening time. I am a super collector of wrapping and tissue paper so I can go home and iron it. Yes, Virginia, I do iron tissue paper and it is one of the most relaxing things I do. (Note, I do not iron clothing.) Create your own gift cards by cutting up Christmas cards. The cool scissors and punches are very helpful but not necessary. You can also make bookmarks and postcards from the wide assortment of holiday cards. Wrap with something you probably have on hand and don't need to buy. That would be the daily newspaper, sales fliers and grocery bags. Put your arts and crafts skills to decorating and think of using non-traditional ribbon things like kitchen string or shoe laces.

Skip the basic wrapping thing and make use of the super wide variety of gift bags. Almost all of them are constructed for multi uses besides being pretty and useful.

Have you heard of “furoshiki”? It is a Japanese method of wrapping gifts with fabric. There are many books available on the how-to and of course you can spend hours searching the internet. This probably will not be right for every present, but a crafty person may like the wrapping more than the present. I would be out of my mind with delight to get my present wrapped in wool fabric so I could reuse it for rug hooking. You could just wrap my presents in complete Pendelton wool skirts or other wool goodies; no need to make pieces.

Another one of my secret passions is wallpaper. No, not the computer kind, the real stuff made to put on walls. Now that is a product of so many other uses than applying to your walls. One of my best ever Christmas presents was about 20 books of wallpaper samples. When I worked at McDonald's we had a Christmas party and the person who got my name had just closed his decorating store. He asked me what I wanted and said I wanted his wallpaper books. His wife said that was not a gift to give so I ended up writing her a note and saying YES, it would be a perfect gift for me. As a side note, I got the wallpaper books and a glass Christmas plate as the plate was supposed to be the real present. Happy wife, very happy me!