Alternative to buying gift boxes: Simply use a box you have around your house. Many foods come nicely packaged in boxes that vary in sizes perfect for most gifts. I've used cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, and snack boxes before. It is always funny to see someone's reaction when they see the box. :)
Alternative to buying wrapping paper: Use extra pieces of fabric or even old t-shirts turned inside out to wrap your box. For this gift, I used an old t-shirt that I am planning to use for an upcoming sewing project. Because I didn't want to cut up the shirt, I just tucked in the sleeves on each side and used masking tape to hold the fabric wrapping in place. The gift was just going to my husband, so I didn't have to worry about trying to get the shirt back after the gift was opened. If I was giving the gift to someone else, I would just make sure I didn't need the fabric.
Alternative to buying bows: Make your own gift topper. It can be so quick and simple to put a cute gift topper together using your stash of creative supplies. I was able to put this topper together fairly quickly using the scrapbooking supplies I had on hand.
Supply list for gift topper: Fiskars love embellishment from the Fuse (letterpress and diecut in one) from the September/October 2012 issue of Creating Keepsakes; Glitter Glue (Gary M. Burlin & Co.); Distress Crackle Paint in Vintage Photo (Ranger - Tim Holtz); Heidi Grace Rub-ons; Colorbox Fluid Chalk in Chestnut Brown; Making Memories Sanding Block; Glue Dots Minis. Other miscellaneous supplies included: chipboard heart; lace; rhinestones; sticker.
NOTE: I created this gift topper for the Fiskars Fuse Contest.
If you would like to vote for my entry, please click here. You are able to vote 5 times a day, so take advantage of that! Voting ends September 25th.
I should also note that I ALWAYS save any salvageable gift wrap/tissue paper/boxes/bags/bows when I receive gifts from others. These items are easily stored and then I use them when wrapping my own gifts to give. Just remember--it's always smart to volunteer for cleanup at holiday parties after the gifts have been opened and the wrapping thrown aside--no one will mind if you take the shiny bow that once sat atop their gift--they were just going to throw it away anyways. ;)
I hope these tricks come in handy next time you need some pretty wrapping!