I found THIS tutorial yesterday, and I went NUTS over it! I love package bows, have even been known to tuck them into the branches of my tree (or my hair :P), but they really just seem like an unnecessary expense. I'm also not crazy about the shiny-metallic colors, and once again, that plastic ribbon can not be healthy for a kid to chew on. These bows are made from magazines, and they tend to have a nice, slightly muted color scheme, and they're paper, so if your child or pet munches on one, it's no big deal. They're super easy, too, and almost addictive--once I got into the rhythm, I didn't want to stop making them!
A few notes:
1. There's no way these bows take 30 minutes, unless you count how long it took my brain to figure out exactly how to twist-and-loop the paper strip to make it just right. After the first one, they take just a few minutes each.
2. The length of the strips isn't as important as the proportions--I used one set of much longer strips to make a larger bow, and a set of shorter ones to make a smaller bow. The shorter ones were harder to manipulate, and harder to put together. The final loop covers a LOT of mistakes, but play with it a little to make sure you get the look you want. I made a few with final loops that were too big or too small, and they just didn't look right.
3. I used a stapler to put my entire bow together. This caused some crushing issues. In the future, I'll use a stapler to put everything but the final loop on, then glue or tape for the loop. You could also, of course, use glue or double sided tape for the entire project--I just like my stapler.
4. Pay attention to the color scheme of the page you choose. I was recycling a Wine Spectator magazine, and the colors of the ads tend to be much more sophisticated than the ads in say Woman's Day or Family Fun (which I won't be cutting up anyway, thank you very much. That mag ROCKS! :P), which are brighter and bolder. The pages I chose from Wine Spectator were shades of brown, grey, and white, and were very well-suited to adult or men's gifts.
I was thinking about the lack of garland or beads for our tree, and used another page with a similar color scheme to make a paper chain (just like in elementary school--cut multiple strips of paper of the same length, form the first strip into a loop, glue or staple, push a second strip through the loop to form an interlocking loop, staple, repeat until you get the length you need). Once again, I LOVED the look of the sophisticated colors from the magazine!! I was balking against the idea of brightly colored construction paper on my Christmas tree, and I think this will be a nice substitute--with the added bonus of recycling a magazine to make it :D
UPDATE: I still love the idea of the muted color scheme, but you can see in the picture of our tree overall that you should be careful about how you put it together--my chain has a few feet of alot of white, a few feet of a lot of orange, a few feet of a lot of brown . . . You get the idea :P Those darker colors seem to 'disappear' into the tree, and I'm not sure I like that (there is paper chain draped the entire length of the tree, a total of five rows, but in my opinion you can only really see the three rows in the middle)
But the chain itself is still nice, in my opinion, and I'm quite glad we chose to do this over using the beads or tinsel garland we've used in the past.
I ran across this idea while searching for more holiday crafts using recycled magazines. Not sure if we'll do it, but it's cute :D
Christmas Tree & Ornaments (scroll to the bottom for the links to directions)