I dislike it as well, and I always just wrote a check and was finished with it.
We've done the wrapping papers too and I still have plenty for years to come.
My daughter's school has something different this year and I liked it much
better: parents buy a white tile (8 x 8) for $ 50.00 and the kids (or parents)
paint the tile (ceramic colors were supplied). The school bakes the tiles and
mounts them on a dedicated wall. So far, about 100 tiles are already in place, and it looks so nice and colorful. It was fun painting and I might even buy some more tiles (one can buy as many tiles as one wants to).