Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gorgeous Gift-Wrap How-to

Often when people get a gift from me, their first response is, “That’s too pretty too open!” My friends and relatives save my ribbons and tags and other embellishments, instead of tossing them like those bows you buy in a big bag at Christmas. I have one friend that calls me “Martha”, and though I don’t actually have my own gift-wrap room, I do take pride in a gift well wrapped.

This may seem like a lot of wasted effort to most people, and I totally understand that I’m working hard to make something pretty for a rather finite period of time. But I don’t care. I love everything about giving gifts, from buying them to wrapping them to watching people unwrap them, so I put a great deal of thought into every step of the process. This applies to both personal gifts, and items that I gift-wrap from my etsy shop.

If you want to make a great first impression with your gifts, here are some handy tips for you.

1) Coordinate your gift-wrappery.

When choosing wrapping paper, make sure any tags, cards, ribbons or bows all coordinate. This does not mean that everything is all exactly the same color, print or design; it just means that it’s a similar color palette, design or type of print. If you have lots of money but minimal design sense, just got to Hallmark or The Container Store, and look at their gift-wrap. Find a design you like. Nearby, they should have matching bows and little cards and all sorts of doo-dads that will make your package look like a million bucks. If you have less money, but a great eye for style, find a more inexpensive paper that you like, and go to the craft store for ribbons and other accessories.

2) Buy double-sided paper or coordinating sets whenever possible.

Double-sided paper, with a different design on each side, gives you at least two patterns to choose from (more if one is a stripe or design that you can use vertically, horizontally or even diagonally). At Christmastime, I LOVE to buy those sets of paper with three rolls of wrap and coordinating bows, ribbons and tags. These sorts of sets take all the thought out of wrapping great-looking presents.

3) Have a “signature wrap”.

Some people have a box of random gift wrap at home, each purchased for a different birthday, holiday, anniversary, wedding or other event. And this is just fine. But, if you want to simplify your life, get two very large rolls of coordinating paper in a unisex design, and use those for every gift occasion. For an elegant look, you could get a roll of plain black, and a roll with a black-and-white pattern. Use different ribbons, bows and other doodads to add interest.

This approach has at least two advantages. You’ll save money in the long run, and everyone will know that the gift is from you without even having to look at the tag. This is especially great if you have a shop and want to “brand” your gift-wrap.

4) Color-code your gifts

This is really helpful for me at Christmas, but you can use it for any occasion where you’ll be giving gifts to multiple people. Use the same color scheme for each person or group of people, and hopefully that will help you keep all your piles of gifts organized.

At Christmas, I wrap my mom’s gifts in one color scheme, my sister’s in another, my dad’s family’s in another, my friends’ in another, my husband’s family in another, and my husband’s friends in another. Sounds complicated, but I can easily see which gifts go to which party or get-together.

5) Make your own wrapping supplies.

Get large sheets of newsprint or butcher paper, and draw on them or use rubber stamps or sponge on color from a stamp pad. You should be able to find everything you need at an art supply or craft store. Get matching card stock and envelopes, and stamp them as well.

Make your own gift wrap for tiny presents with a color printer. Use scanned photos or clip art that go with the occasion. Make yourself a matching card while you’re at it.

If you have a pre-made gift-wrap that you love, and want to create gift tags that match exactly, try scanning your paper. Print out on thin card stock, and cut around the design or into any shape you’d like. (Please be prepared for people thinking you are crazy if you do this.)

You can also make your own wrapping paper from old newspapers, large calendar pages, maps, scrapbook paper, and pages from books, anything you can fit around you gift, really!

6) Make the wrap a part of the gift

Be a little greener with your gift-wrap. Instead of using paper that most people just toss, try a reusable fabric wrap. The Japanese have been doing it forever, go to for info. Etsy seller also has the right idea, with affordable, stylish and reusable bags in lots of sizes.

If you’re giving a housewarming present, wrap it in napkins or a tablecloth. Use a baby blanket to wrap a shower gift. Use a large, stylish scarf as gift-wrap for a classy lady. Try a Jolly Roger flag for a pirate-themed present, or a red handkerchief for a cowboy theme.

Remember that baskets aren’t just for Easter. A nice assortment of items in an attractive basket makes a great gift for those who have everything. My favorite house-warming gift to give is the “Bailey’s Gift Basket”, which contains coffee, glasses, whipped cream and a bottle of Bailey’s, cushioned with tea-towels. (If you are lucky, the recipient will ask if you’d like to share.)

You can also create a one-of-a-kind memento box for your gift. Take a sturdy box with a lid, and then either carefully tape or decoupage paper or fabric around the lid and the bottom separately. Add embellishments if you wish, then simply tie it shut with an appropriate ribbon. This is especially nice for people who enjoy handmade gifts.

7) Be creative with your bows and ribbons.

Other items you can use instead of a pre-made bow include:

· Lovely satin hand-tied ribbon bows
· Dried flowers, pine cones, feathers or leaves other natural elements
· Floral picks (especially great at Christmas time)
· Small toys
· Tiny photo frames…insert pictures of the recipients inside
· Anything small that you can attractively tie, tape or glue to the top of a present.

Some alternatives to that cheap plastic-y ribbon everyone uses...

· Satin, grosgrain, organza or velvet ribbons
· Rick-rack, fringe, or beaded trims
· Raffia or kitchen twine
· Shoelaces (fancy colors or patterns, especially great for athletic recipients)
· Large, colorful rubber bands
· Long strips of coordinating wrapping paper
· Electrical or duct tape (For a handy kind of guy, or, if you want it to be very hard to open)
· Anything else that you can tie or tape around your gift!

8) Make a Pile-O-GiftsTM*

If you have several gifts for a person that all fit nicely in different sized boxes, wrap them in two different coordinating papers, stack them on top of each other, and tie the entire thing together with a ribbon. Sort of like a square layered wedding cake. In fact, this is an awesome way to wrap wedding gifts. Wrap your bottom layer in a white or cream solid paper, wrap the next layer in a white or cream patterned paper, and use light peach or pink ribbon. Incorporate some faux flowers into the bow at the top.

9) Keep your supplies together

Get a special gift-wrap container or use a tall cardboard box for all your rolls of wrap. Another small box would be great for ribbons, bows, tags and other doodads. In addition, it’s a good idea to keep a dedicated pair of scissors and roll of scotch tape in there as well. One of the more annoying things in life is trying to find tape to wrap your gift 10 minutes before you’re leaving for a party.

Keep your supplies somewhere easily accessible, preferably near a nice, clean, large table. If you don’t have a table that fits this description, you might want to get yourself a folding table. They’re great to have on hand, not only for gift-wrap, but also for other craft projects or extra table space during parties.

10) Follow proper gift-wrapping procedures

Go here to learn how to wrap a gift. Really, it’s not hard. If your gift is not already in a nice square box, put it in one. Or, use a basket or piece of fabric or pretty bag (see #6).

To make your gifts even more professional looking, used double-sided tape on the underside of your paper. (This is something that even I don’t do, but it’s how Martha does it!)

OK, those are all the tips I have for you today! Hopefully this will give you some great ideas for making your presents stand out in the crowd.

*Not actually trademarked.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe how generous you are with your beautiful ideas!!!

    Thank you and Happy Holidays.