Foolproof Gift Wrapping
Back away from that rack of seasonal gift bags. Our crafty packaging ideas are just as foolproof and they'll make your presents felt at the holidays -- and at birthdays, weddings, and showers all year long.
Tie One On
If it's the thought that counts, what does a slapped-on peel-and-stick curlicue ribbon convey? You can easily make package toppers that feel much less perfunctory and predictable than a store-bought bow. Grab beads, blossoms, bells, or other bling from a crafts store and knot one piece at a time onto embroidery floss or thin ribbon. To make it truly personal, spell out a giftee's name with charms, or turn a locket into a gift tag (cut dark paper to fit inside, and write your message with a gel pen). These little touches have a big impact, which means you can keep the rest of the package simple. To dress up a gift tube (which is a nice way to bestow a holiday gratuity), we just taped a strip of pretty paper around the belly.
Assorted boxes and gift mailers, containerstore.com. "Orbs" box (far left), $9, katespaperie.com. Flower (on box), $2; bells, $4 per dozen; leaves, $1 each; beads, $2 per dozen; locket, $3; flower (on tube), $1; all at Toho Shoji, 212-868-7465. Alphabet charms, $11 per pack, the Ink Pad, 212-463-9876.
Ink For Yourself
Dancing Santas not your style? Custom-print your own wrapping paper using plain old rubber stamps. For a look that's contemporary, not scrapbooky, stick to clean graphic shapes and patterns, and press beyond common color combos: Try celery ink on olive paper, or shimmery gold on natural kraft paper. You can also stamp names in block letters (or write them with a matching gel pen).
Mini square stamp, $9; circle stamps, from $6; block stamp set, $20; alphabet stamps, $15 for set; ink pads, from $6; all at the Ink Pad, 212-463-9876.
Contain Your Excitement
What they lack in suspense, these semitransparent plastic vessels make up for in drama. We smoothed gold foil tape around the bottom of every lid and topped each one with a regal tassel. Attach the tassel by making a hole in the lid with a craft drill, inserting the tail, and knotting it. To size tassels to suit different containers, just give them little haircuts. "This idea is best for small tokens that come in fun shapes, like candies and flowering tea balls," Shane says. "The outlines make an interesting visual effect."
Boxes, $1 to $3 each, containerstore.com. Metallic film tape, $10, art-alternatives.com for stores. Dremel 275-02 multiPro rotary tool (to make holes for tassels), $44, amazon.com. "Chainette" tassles, $1 each, M&J Trimming, mjtrim.com.
Stick to It
Bright stripes revive even your lamest wrap attempt much better than a sad pile of scissor-curled ribbon. "They let you create extra-crisp lines and designs that look slick and modern," Shane says. Use fluorescent artist's tape or plastic lacing (that stuff you braided into key chains during recess). Colors really sizzle when they're contrasted against paper in a rich, muted shade, like brown or mustard, or a more organic texture, such as a marbled pattern. Tiny cards with matching envelopes make nice gift tags, or you can multipurpose some mini Post-its for a neat post-modern touch.
Sparkles Will Fly
Bust out these bedazzled boxes, and with luck they'll deflect attention from Aunt Linda's battery-operated Rudolph cardigan. The five-minute projects shown here include gluing metallic discs to the top of a plain brown parcel, or carefully sandwiching loose neon confetti between layers of white tissue paper so it jumps out when torn open (we stuck a few stray pieces on top, too). More shining examples: Swap ribbon for sequined string, or drag a glue stick across a package and pepper it with complementary confetti. Like the other confetti box, this one is designed to create some festive messiness when opened.
Metallic discs, $2 per pack, confetti.com for stores. Assorted ribbons, from $4, katespaperie.com. Gift tags, from $3, paperpresentation.com. Sequin string, $1 per yard, Toho Shoji, 212-868-7465. Confetti, $2 per pack, confetti.com for stores. Tissue paper, $4 for 24 sheets, containerstore.com.
"A good time-saver is to wrap all your gifts in similar paper, then add flourishes that reflect each recipient's personality," says Shane Powers, deputy style and home editor.