Don't get me wrong - I love paper with an undying passion. But I'm trying to use it in smaller doses, particularly when it comes to wrapping gifts. There's something about a big pile of crumpled wrapping paper that makes me feel sad.
This year almost everything is wrapped in felt. Mostly because it's the easiest fabric to work with - easy to cut, no need to hem all the edges, and very sturdy.
Making the pouches is easy. You basically just act like you're going to wrap the item, but you use cloth instead of paper and you run little seams down the edges. Make sure to leave a flap open so you can slip the item in and out. You could design these lots of different ways, depending on your sewing skills. I used some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine, but you can also handstitch with some thick embroidery thread and it will look just fine.
Some of mine close with a ribbon. I just cut a slit in the folded over flap and then sewed a ribbon to the front of the package. To close, you just pull both sides of the ribbon through the slit and then tie a bow.
Others close with a button. Again, you cut a slit in the folded over flap and then you just sew a button to the bottom half of the package.
The goal is to have them in a variety of sizes and use them every year. They actually take up a lot less space than a jumble of wrapping paper rolls. They work best for grown up gifts like books, CDs, DVDs and jewelry, which happen to be the kinds of gifts I give most often.