Wrapping Gift Tips: Make the Outside of Your Gift Look As Good as The Inside!


I’m a bit of a wrapping queen. I hate sending out a gift that’s wrapped in a basic way – it has to have some “wow” factor to it! Here are my top ten tips for wrapping gifts and a step-by-step guide for wrapping fantastic looking gifts:

1. Make time for it. Wrapping your gifts well shows them off to their best advantage, makes them appear even more special and they look great under the tree. But if you rush, not only will it be hard to make them look nice, but it will be so much more stressful. I like to choose an evening when everyone’s out, but what time is good for you will depend on you and your family’s schedule and what time is good for you as a Spoonie. I have been known to even wrap in the middle of the night with insomnia!
2. Make space for it. If you have a good sized flat hard surface, wrapping gifts is so much easier. Sitting at a dining table is often the best idea – but make sure there are no remaining crumbs, dust or sticky spills!
3. Get prepared before you start. Yes, this is starting to sound like quite a mission, isn’t it? But getting prepared will make the wrapping go so much more smoothly and you’ll get less stressed doing it. I like to get everything I need – the gifts, scissors, double sided tape, papers, tissue papers, ribbons, tags, embellishments, gift bags – together on the dining table and then sit down with a glass of wine, with Sinatra singing Christmas songs on the hi-fi!
4. Be inventive in thinking of what can be used – this can both make your gift look so much more special AND save you money. It doesn’t have to all be Christmassy as a few bits of Christmas paper or ribbon can make a wrapped gift festive, or you can just go with more festive colours, including a bit of red, gold or silver. Wallpaper remnants are a great idea and even if you don’t have leftover wallpaper in the house, you can quite often get amazing bargains for end of line rolls. If you have any long thin scraps of material, then use these instead of ribbon. Paper tablecloths can be great for the base of wrapping large items and paper napkins are an often cheap alternative to tissue paper for the base of wrapping small items. Special wools are often a good alternative to ribbon and it’s so much cheaper than buying ribbon, especially when they sell it in 2 or 3 yard pieces in gift shops!
5. Double sided sticky tape! This is a wrapping queen’s secret weapon. Hiding the tape makes it look so much nicer, but it saves the problem of wrapping without tape.
6. Decide on a colour theme for each gift you wrap, even if the theme is bright multicolor! Making your own tags is simple enough, especially if you’re using a stiff wallpaper – just cut out a rectangle, punch a hole in one end and thread a piece of thin ribbon through it. Or you can use basic card (even recycle tissue boxes) and use your double sided tape to stick a piece of your wrapping paper on one side to make a matching tag.
7. Layer. This is one of the biggest factors in “wow” wrapping. You don’t just use one paper, you use at least two. Plain tissue paper as a base (or a paper tablecloth or napkin as discussed above) is the simplest way to start, then add a wrap of paper, either patterned or in a complementary colour, allowing some of the tissue paper to be seen. The base should cover the whole gift and then subsequent layers should cover less and less. This actually saves on the amount of more expensive paper you need for the top layers.
8. Ribbon or bows or embellishments. I always use either a ribbon (even if its wool – see number 4) or, for very large or unwieldy gifts, a bow. Embellishments can be anything from wired crystals and stick on rhinestones, to basic stickers, feathers or paper flowers. You can even use holly leaves, bits of fir or cinnamon sticks for a festive feel.
9. Remember that cubes and cuboids are the easiest to wrap. If you have an irregularly shaped gift, see if you can put it in a box to wrap. Or if it’s something small that you don’t have a box for, then get an appropriately sized gift bag, line it with tissue paper (allowing some to peek out the top) and put the gift in there. Tying gift bags handles together with ribbon makes it more secure and more special and a bow, tag or embellishment added to the outside of the bag can add the “wow” factor.
10. Cut paper to size. It sounds simple, but it makes wrapping so much easier. When wrapping a box for your base layer (which covers the whole gift), there should be enough paper going around to overlap by a few inches, including folding one edge under to give a smooth finish (you can stick the fold down with double sided tape). For the ends, there should be enough paper extending beyond the box end that would cover more than half the height of the box, but less than the full height of the box.
Step-by-step guide:
1. Measure out the base paper with the gift on it (see number 10), then cut it to size.
2. Fold one edge under for that smooth finish, sticking the fold down securely with double sided tape.
3. Put another piece of double sided tape ready on the underside of that edge, but don’t remove the backing paper yet.
4. Then get the gift placed on the paper so that your neat, folded edge will sit halfway along the box when it’s all done.
5. Pull the paper securely around the box, sticking it down with the double sided tape – your neat folded edge should be outermost and centred.
6. Fold the ends in neatly, taking your time so you can get good neat folds. With a cuboid box and paper cut to the right size, you should be able to get neat folds quite easily.
7. Then stick each flap down with a piece of double sided tape.
8. Now take your next or top layer of paper. Measure this out so that it will go round the box with a few inches overlap, including an inch or so to fold under. But make the width, the width of the box. For an extra neat finish, measure it so that the ends of the box that will be on display are not the sides with the folded base paper. Cut the paper to size.
9. Then fold the long edges under, sticking them down with double sided tape, so that the paper is slightly less than the width of the box.
10. Fold the end under, sticking the fold down securely with double sided tape, and add a piece of tape that goes along the underside of this folded edge but don’t remove the backing paper yet.
11. Place the gift on the paper so that the folded edge will be in the center of the box.
12. Pull the paper securely around the box, sticking it down with the double sided tape – your neat folded edge should be outermost and centered.
NB. Steps 8-12 can be repeated if you want to add more layers of paper.
13. An optional step at this stage is to put a piece of wide ribbon or a fabric strip around the box in one direction, sticking the end down with a piece of double sided tape. The main, thinner ribbon you use will then go on top of this
14. Now get your main ribbon (or thin fabric strip or special wool). If using wool or thin ribbon, you may want to double it up or more. Measure it out so that you have enough to go around the box widthways and lengthways, plus some extra for bows. If it is a very large or long box, just go around the narrowest bit.
15. Place the gift on the center of the ribbon, pull the ribbon up and around the top of the box and twist it around itself where it meets in the center of the box. At this point it may be useful to have someone help you as you then need to turn the box over, with the ribbon still in place. When you’ve done that and you’ve checked the ribbon is still centered on the box, pull it around the other sides of the box and then tie it in a bow or knot on top (someone else can help here to keep the ribbon in place while you tie the knot or bow).
16. Add any embellishments or tags you want and your gift is done.
Article submitted by Lindsey Middlemiss Butyoudontlooksick.com, ©

  • Rebecca

    This year I had filled a ‘fish bowl’ vase with baubles as a Christmas decoration – and I still had some beautiful glass baubles left over. I bought a couple of rolls of metallic ‘string’ ribbon and threaded one or two baubles onto each one, wrapping around the presents. Made my gifts look beautiful, and each ‘gift’ also has a bauble for the tree!

  • Sue, here’s a thought on the beautiful gilded special cards. If you do those on ACEO blanks, ATC blanks, then put your special work into a PVC collector card Top Loader protective sleeve – they may get the idea it belongs in their ACEO/ATC collection instead of the trash.

    I tend to save even the giftwrap, if someone put crystal bobs and bits onto the package they’d go into a box of “stuff to decorate with” and wind up on the tree or another package a year later. When I was a kid we always saved the ribbons and bows and reused them along with any papers that didn’t get ripped up – even us kids were supposed to carefully untape and flatten the paper.

    My old stash is gone because I moved out of state but I’ll start collecting more. Best time to buy holiday stuff is right after Christmas.

  • Sue/minisue

    What fun! I like to use inexpensive brown kraft paper (cut-down paper grocery bags in the “leanest” times) and decorate it by stenciling simple holiday shapes, making random swirls and squiggles with glitter glue (it can be found in bottles with tips), or even potato-stamping simple shapes with paint. Then I just wrap the (preferably) box and tie it with string, yarn, or curling ribbon; or I use intact brown paper grocery bags to begin with, decorate as above, and pop the gift inside. It’s fun, and people usually (not always!) appreciate the extra effort.

    The real enjoyment, for me, is what I do for close friends and closest family. For all of these I start with plain white paper that comes on a huge roll at the art store. I decorate it with more intricate stencils or stamped designs (using “real” stamps), etc.
    ***For a treasured few, I use just the plain white paper with the handmade card as the only decoration. That can involve (often) calligraphy of some type, plus a “special feature” involving my own work, which varies from gift to gift: fairly intricate Origami; illuminated calligraphy (with gilding); a piece of bobbin lace (made by me); a bit of very thin wood with a woodburned design; a stamped design using a stamp I carved myself; a tiny sketch, possibly accented with watercolors; Scherenschnitte; or, for fellow quilters, a bit of crazy or “sane” quilting–you get the idea.
    My hope for the special ones is that they will be saved and treasured, but inevitably I find out that one or more were discarded, sometimes with the recipient never noticing the “it’s-just-the-card” in the hurry to open the present (which rarely has taken the time and effort of the card, even–or maybe especially–“it’s just what I wanted”). *sigh* At such times I must remind myself that the joy is truly in the journey.***

  • Good article on creative wrapping. But why stop with unusual sources of paper? Especially if you have sewing or quilting enthusiasts on your gift list, stop at the remnant table and look for interesting fabrics that remind you of their projects.
    Quilters appreciate getting packages wrapped in calicoes. It doesn’t matter if they have ten thousand different calico patterns — that extra yard the package is wrapped in brings a huge grin. Also you can get lace ribbon in very large quantity like ten yards or more in cheap two or three for a dollar packs at craft departments. Again, classy and crafters love it.
    Also try Dick Blick for screaming bright tissue paper assortments in large quantity for projects and wrapping, if you’re into the bright tissue paper. Keep in mind that artists, scrapbookers, collage artists and ACEO artists may really appreciate things like the “pound of art paper” bargain bag and you can get fancy art papers that they’ll later unfold and use.
    Finally, if you want to seriously “tightwad” a great gift presentation, get that remnant fabric and make fancy gift bags by sewing drawstring bags on the sewing machine. If it’s something large, a drawstring bag in a sturdy heavy fabric with a strong cord can also give one of the guys on your list a drawstring laundry bag as an extra.
    Folding origami cranes and other forms as decorations is also classy and appreciated. I used to do small ones out of gum wrappers. You can use any bright paper for it including dayglow Sticky Notes — they’re square.