CHRISTMAS may be the season to be jolly but for those who have loads of presents to wrap and yet want to be environmentally friendly, it may be a time of major headaches. Sixteen-year-old Selma Masood, however, has solved that problem. She has abandoned the conventional way of using fancy paper to wrap her presents, using old newspapers instead. And it never takes her more than five minutes. 'It is good to wrap Christmas presents and put it under the Christmas tree to surprise friends. But it is going to be opened and there is no point wrapping it neatly. Buying special stuff for that is a waste of money and paper and does not help the environment,' said Selma. Instead of buying special wrappers to add glitz to the presents, using recycled or reusable material could as well yield an enchanting gift, with an extra personal touch. 'We can be a bit creative and use our brains to come out with alternative ways of wrapping presents,' said Mrs Mei Ng Fong Siu-mei, the director of Friends of the Earth. 'The important essence is the fun of creating the wrapping and testing your skills. The recipient will be more appreciative of the personal touch you have taken.' Using shower caps to hold small boxes of chocolate, pillow cases for bigger boxes of biscuits and socks for bars of soap might surprise your friends even more than enfolding them in fancy glitzy paper, said Mrs Ng. 'It costs $4.80 for a shower cap and a wrapper costs probably double. The recipient can receive two for one present and it shows your creativity,' she said. Children could save their paintings during school lessons, old maps and posters as wrappers. Computer printouts and even pastry boxes from cake shops could be re-used creatively and aesthetically to yield a unique present wrapper, suggested Mrs Ng. 'They can even have a corner like a little treasure trunk where they put every bits of reusable material in a gift treasure chest. Whenever they have to wrap a present, they can just go to the chest and dig out fun things for wrapping. 'The process of creating wrapping is fun,' said Mrs Ng. But most young people are like Karen Mak, 18, who never hesitates to spend time, effort and money to create beautifully-wrapped presents for her friends. 'Gifts must be wrapped. It shows your thought and sincerity. I feel great seeing the recipient unwrap the present jubilantly,' she said. Karen views the packaging as part of her gift and, using materials such as fancy paper and ribbons, may spend up to one hour of time to put together a beautiful offering. 'I don't mind spending money buying wrapping materials as it makes the present look special,' Karen said, admitting that this may be at the expense of creating a bin of unnecessary waste. In fact, this concern about image and appearance is pervasive. Courses on how to with fancy material are offered by organisations such as the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 'It is a trend from Japan. People like to make their gifts look as entrancing and appealing as they can. The issue of being environmental friendly does not seem to concern them at all,' said Ms Jor Yin-fun, instructor of the design packaging course run by the SCS. Ms Jor said that the increasing popularity of gift corners and wrapping services in department stores has reinforced the trend. 'You can get all sorts of fancy material imported from Japan and Western countries in the stores. People don't mind spending money on that as long as they can make their presents stand out,' she added.