At Mum and Dad’s, we’d just had a big family lunch with our aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
So there was plenty!
Suddenly, a sparkly piece of red gift-wrap caught my attention.
That’s pretty, I thought, picking it up.
Then, I had a brainwave.
‘Kyle, hand me the rubbish bag,’ I said.
I was going to make a beautiful ball gown out of the leftovers!
My Grandma Craven had taught me to sew when I was a little girl, and I’d made my first Halloween costume of Link from The Legend of Zelda, from scratch, aged 11.
Studying art at uni, I loved unconventional materials – better yet if they were recyclable!
In class, I’d already made papier-mâché dresses, and others out of dried paint and food wrappers.
Gathering up two big garbage bags of gift-wrap, I lugged them into the guest room, where I was staying.
The only scraps that didn’t make the cut were Grandma’s.
She loved to wrap her pressies up in newspaper comic strips, and while I admired her eco-conscious attitude, it wasn’t quite the look I was going for!
Rather, I imagined an elegant strapless frock fit for a Disney princess!
Luckily, Mum works at a school, so she had plenty of craft supplies.
While Kyle and my dad Johnny played with their presents, and my mum Debbie pottered in the kitchen, I carefully glued the ripped pieces of paper together.
Then, I ‘laminated’ them with lots of packing tape so they wouldn’t rip.
My parents’ white cat, Yoshi, kept coming in to inspect my work – and soon she was covered in red glitter from the sparkly paper!
Working into the night until I was sleepy, I got back to it as soon as I woke up.
Constructing the bodice out of mesh that’s used for making Christmas wreaths, I wanted the back to lace up, so I used a hole punch and threaded gold twine through to tie it up.
It needs something else, I thought.
Rushing out to the Christmas tree, I pointed to a massive golden bow that was hanging on it.
‘Can I have that?’ I asked.
Affixing it to the back of the dress, it was perfect!
Now, I had to try it on.
I needed Mum’s help, so I didn’t wrinkle the gown.
Putting my arms up, she slid it over my head.
Spinning around, I was ecstatic – I’d made a gown out of paper overnight!
Sharing a photo of me in my masterpiece on Facebook, it was shared over again – and went viral.
I want to make a dress out of wrapping paper every year! I decided.
The following Christmas, most of the gift-wrap was too ripped for me to use.
So Mum offered to let me use the red paper that was still left on the rolls.
This time, I made a Victorian-inspired off-the-shoulder red and gold beauty.
Doing a shoot at an estate with majestic historic buildings, a woman and her five-year-old son came over to say hello.
‘He asked if we were going to see any princesses today!’ she smiled.
It was so sweet. But halfway through the shoot, it started to rain.
Grabbing my skirt to walk up the stairs and out of the wet weather, my fingers went straight through the sodden paper!
Back home, I let it dry out, then repaired the holes.
When the silly season rolled around the next year, I wanted to try something a little different, so I searched for purple paper to make my newest outfit.
Fringed with silver tinsel, it was spectacular!
Last year, I used shiny green paper to make a sweet knee-length creation!
Instead of packing away your holidays decorations, allow me to suggest wearing them! I wrote when I posted a picture on my Instagram page, called @avantgeek.
I haven’t just been making festive costumes though.
I’ve made an incredible prom-dress out of Mountain Dew wrappers and bottles that my friends and family helped me collect, a wedding gown out of toilet paper, and
a retro frock from black bin bags!
I don’t just stick to paper – I’ve sewn a hilarious handpainted fabric pizza gown, and a taco one too!
Now, I create costuming how-to videos on YouTube and Patreon – a platform that allows generous benefactors to donate to artists like me so we can keep creating.
When I started a year and a half ago, I was still working full-time at an art school.
But six months ago, I quit my job to focus on creating even more wacky designs.
It hasn’t made me rich yet, but for now, gift-wrap’s helping me to pay the bills.
I’m wrapped! ●