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Parents get crafty by using Trader Joe’s holiday bags to wrap Christmas gifts

It's a green and thrifty way to wrap gifts this holiday season.
The Trader Joe's paper bags look festive under the tree.
The Trader Joe's paper bags look festive under the tree.Courtesy Debbie Johnson Osgood
/ Source: TODAY

This holiday season, the latest trend is wrapping your Christmas gifts in decorative Trader Joe's bags.

The fad is spreading in several Facebook groups devoted to the grocery chain, and people have been sharing their crafty and surprisingly gorgeous boxes under the tree wrapped in the iconic TJ's bags.

For San Diego grandmother Debbie Osgood, who originally saw the idea in the Facebook group "Trader Joe's Meal Ideas for Busy People," decided that she would give it a go.

"I thought, 'Well, I'm just gonna give that a try,' because I ended up with a couple of bags," she tells TODAY.com, adding that she normally brings her own reusable bags, but, naturally, ended up with a lot of groceries for the holiday season.

"So I started and I thought it was ... a lot of fun because I like creating something, having some parameters, and that kind of gives you a little challenge," she said.

Her post sharing her handiwork has thousands of likes as of Dec. 24.

Another group member, Karen Stuart Spence, also got in on the trend. She tells TODAY.com that she saw the trend on Facebook initially and then checked TikTok — where as of press time the search "Trader Joes Christmas bag" had more than 3.5 million views.

The Palmdale, California, resident decided to follow suit and spiced her gifts up with rosemary and winterberries from her garden.

Trader Joe's didn't immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment.

The tradition of using holiday Trader Joe's bags goes back for years. There are Pinterest pins and Flickr images suggesting doing so that date back at least 12 years, from what we could track down.

Those who couldn't afford wrapping paper have for decades used newspapers and paper bags to conceal gifts ahead of the holidays. In recent years, it's been lauded as a great green idea to help reduce the amount of waste going into landfills each year, too.

Most traditional holiday wrapping papers are actually not recyclable. Papers that contain foil, plastic coating, cellophane and glitter are not able to be recycled, per the American Forest and Paper Association, nor are ribbons or bows.

Spence's gifts, wrapped in Trader Joe's paper bags.
Spence's gifts, wrapped in Trader Joe's paper bags.Courtesy Karen Stuart Spence

Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year, according to National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group devoted to helping people to be more environmentally responsible.

If you're not willing to switch to paper bag wrapping paper, you could always go for recyclable wrapping paper or reusable fabric wrap.

Other tips for cutting down on waste this holiday season include saving and re-using bows and gift bags, as well as ribbons on packages.

As for Osgood, she says that with three children and seven grandchildren, she will probably try the Trader Joe's gift wrap challenge again next year.

"It depends on what the bag is!" she tells TODAY.com "But I probably will and the great thing about the bag is just like it doesn't say Trader Joe's all over it ... so it makes great paper."

She adds that she loves to shop at Trader Joe's because of how "creative" their shops and staff are.

"I like all their ... their flyers, their signs in the store. Everything is so creative," she says. "It's a fun place to go. So it makes sense that their bags would be fun also."