Chances are, if you celebrate Christmas and have a gift-giving tradition with your friends and family, you’ve got a few presents to wrap still. This can, unfortunately, turn into a chore; but I’m hoping some of the ideas and resources I’ve gathered here might help make it a little bit easier.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned to keep in mind when it comes to wrapping presents:
1. Choose paper carefully, but also use what you already have. When it comes to shopping for wrapping paper, I tend to gravitate toward sturdy and simple. Thick paper, with good texture, in solid colors or simple, monochromatic designs will get you a long way. But when it comes right down to it, your own creativity is a more powerful tool than new wrapping paper is; take a look at what you have around you. Do you have paper grocery bags? Cut them up and you have gorgeous kraft paper wrapping. (You can also find rolls of brown paper postage wrap sold very inexpensively.) Look, too, for old sheet music or newsprint. And what about the rolls of wrapping paper you already have? Flip them over, or draw and stamp on them for a completely new look.
2. Stick to a color scheme throughout your gifts. This is not at all necessary, but it can make an elegant grouping out of your gifts (and a fun challenge in wrapping them). You can go with classic red and green, rustic kraft paper and twine, simple white and red, or any variation on the theme. For some reason this year the slightly untraditional red & blue look is appealing to me; I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve been watching too much Smallville or because of the subtle blue in some of the gift tag designs I downloaded, but either way, it’s been a fun change.
3. Don’t ignore the tag. Even if it’s just a simple square of paper with a handwritten TO and FROM, how fun is it to look under the tree and see your name written on a package? And, in this day and age, there are many resources for making your gift tags more exciting than that. I was a little sad to see that Trader Joe’s didn’t reprint their gift tag grocery bags this year (although my mother wisely saved many of them, so I’m sure I’ll be seeing them under her tree), but I did stumble upon a couple of other great free resources. Designer Kelli Murray has offered these absolutely gorgeous gift tags (pictured in this post) as a free download on her blog. Another option (especially good if you don’t have a color printer), is this free printable gift tag download from Hey Look.
4. Ribbon, raffia, twine, and string are all your friends. (Even just a little bit of them.) The only thing better than a crisply wrapped package is one with twine wrapped around it or a bow tied on top. Why? I don’t know why it makes such a difference; it just does. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to end in a traditional bow, but if you have any sort of string or ribbon around: put it on that gift. (And if you would like help learning how to tie a traditional bow, check out this bow-tying tutorial from Design Mom.)
5. Practice makes perfect: learn and practice measuring, cutting, and folding paper. I toyed with the idea of posting a photo tutorial for the actual process of wrapping a gift, but then I discovered that Design Mom had already posted it. Check out her beautiful wrapping tutorial; it will help you whether you are a seasoned wrapper or a beginner. I definitely learned a thing or two. I will just reiterate one thing she mentions in her post: make sure you don’t leave too much paper on the ends of your package; the secret to a good end-fold (which I’ve learned by making this mistake many times), is not having excess paper to work with.
6. And one more thing… if at all possible, do yourself the favor of setting up a temporary workspace for wrapping gifts. Even if it’s a tiny part of a desk somewhere or a card table in the corner of your bedroom, wrapping gifts, like any task, is made infinitely easier and more enjoyable by having the proper surface and tools readily at hand. I’ve done the “Set your box of wrapping paper on the bed and attempt to wrap on a soft surface while hunting for the scissors and tape” thing more than a few times, and it is amazing how much easier it is when you give yourself permission to just go ahead and set up wrapping camp.
(Our wrapping station this year. So, this may be a little extreme. But then again… if you are not a wrapping paper hoarder like me, you won’t need this much space to work with.)
I hope some of that was helpful! Merry Christmas, and happy wrapping.