The greatest Christmas lifehack of all time

At Christmas, my wife likes watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I like watching A Christmas Carol. They’re basically inverse stories, right? George Bailey feels terrible until the angel visits him and he realizes he’s lived a great life. Scrooge feels great until the ghosts visit him and he realizes he’s lived a terrible life.

Sometimes I wonder if one story speaking to you over the other says something about your self image. Deep down, do you think you’re a good person like George Bailey or a bad person like Scrooge?

Some parts of Christmas definitely bring out the penny-pinching, sharp-as-flint miserly Scrooge in me. For example, last minute shopping for wrapping supplies. I mean, I get that Scotch tape is a space age miracle without which we’d all just be using spittle and hopefulness to hold things together, but that stuff is priced like it’s made out of petrified moonbeams and reindeer tears.

But the absolute worst is when you’ve already wrapped some gifts and you run out of gift tags. You desperately need to do something before you forget which gift is which, and you don’t want to just write on the wrapping with a sharpie because that would be utterly déclassé, so you go to the store and all they have are the cheap-looking gift tags that are just a sheet of cartoony stickers, and you’re like, “$4.99 for this! That’s 31 cents a humbuging tag! A fine excuse for picking a man’s pocket this 25th of December!”

I’m going to let you in on a Christmas secret. “Gift tags” are just pieces of paper with fancy Christmas printing on them that happen to be shaped like tags.

You might have noticed that people already send you lots pieces of paper with fancy Christmas printing on them every year: Christmas cards. The only problem is that Christmas cards aren’t shaped like tags.

If only there was a way to turn Christmas cards into tag shapes, you could have an endless supply of gift tags from the cards that are already being delivered to your mailbox! Basically, it would be like discovering perpetual motion, or something.

Well, it just so happens that there is a way to turn Christmas cards into gift tags, and it’s probably as close as your nearest craft store: the Fiskars Tag Lever Punch. Buckle up for a ticket to savings town because this is like printing free money!

All you have to do is get one of these punches, take any Christmas cards you get, and punch a bunch of tag shapes out of the front. Since you’re punching the shapes out of Christmas cards, the tags will have, like, great pictures of mistletoe and elegant snow-covered cottages on one side and they’ll be blank on the other side (assuming your grandma didn’t write you a massive letter all over the inside flap of the card). When it’s time to give a gift, you just write on the blank side and tape it to the gift. Boom! You’re on an all expenses paid cruise out of the spending rat race!

Obviously, I’m not the first person to figure this out. Other people have discovered this as well, but I want to make sure the word keeps getting out. This is what Big Gift Tag doesn’t want you to know!

Plus, there’s another benefit besides saving money and reducing or reusing or whatever: I actually enjoy receiving Christmas cards again! The old me was like, “Oh great, more fodder for the recycle bin to graze upon.” But, these days, every time I get a Christmas card, I immediately start thinking about making it into tags. “Frosty’s face would make a great tag! But if I punch out his face, will there still be enough room to get the top of this Christmas tree? What if I center the tag over Frosty’s hat instead?” Every Christmas card is a fun little optimization puzzle to see just how many tags I can squeeze out of it.

I mean, there are some caveats. You still need a pen to write on the tags. And you need some tape or string (or old-fashioned Christmas ingenuity) to attach the tags to presents. Also, you do need some friends and family to actually send you Christmas cards—but you don’t want them to be the kind of high rollers who send photo cards or those fancy ones full of electronics that sing “Wonderful Christmastime” when you open them. You need plain old cards.

So, this Christmas, if the high price of gift tags has you more upsot than the horse in “Jingle Bells,” consider making your spirits bright by getting yourself a tag punch. It’s a small, one-time investment and you’ll be freeing yourself to spend more on bows or wrapping paper or, you know, actual gifts for the special people in your life.

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