Whether stacked under the tree or presented to a friend, these creatively wrapped presents set the tone for a memorable holiday gift exchange. Here are 45 beautiful ways to embellish store-bought gift wrap -- or make your own.
Use snowflake punches to make big and small winter decorations from pearl-finished paper. You can glue them onto onto tags and cards, or others thread them-- along with sequins -- with a large-eyed needle onto mohair yarn.
Enclose gifts in special wrapping paper covered in impressions made with a square rubber stamp. For a uniform pattern, stamp a large sheet of paper repeatedly with the same stamp, leaving a small space between each impression. Or, stamp just the center of a piece of wrapping paper. A stamp rolling pin also makes an attractive pattern. Here, we applied several different colors to a sheet of white paper to create a muted design.
Easy to find and work with, vintage and repurposed papers add pop to presents. Layer several colors and textures, or add vintage beads for a finished look.
Clockwise from top left we used: Vintage wallpaper; Chinese newspaper topped with colored paper; recycled map; grocery bag with Japanese beads.
Extend your palette with pretty favors in green and brown that are a delight to behold. Familiar materials -- paper bags, cardboard boxes, crepe paper, twine -- are easily made into sophisticated packaging for small gifts and favors with ribbon or decorative paper.
In Japan, the art of wrapping gifts in cloth is called furoshiki, and it's brilliantly eco-friendly. Secure open ends with a button, safety pin, or knot.
Clockwise from top left, we used: vintage scarf; burlap rice bag; wool scarf with a knitting needle; tea towel with rickrack; scrap from a vintage kimono.
Forgo the predictable wine bag in favor of this easy alternative: Fold two layers of 9-by-12-inch tissue paper in half lengthwise. Tape folded edge to one edge of a 12-inch square of scrapbook paper. Wrap bottle, and tape. Cinch tissue at neck with a ribbon, and add a tag.
Use blank stickers from an office-supply store to create polka dots or to spell out a name with rubber stamps. For the paper, stick to solid-color wrapping, which is versatile and economical (it's often sold in thick rolls). You can also spruce it up with bands of decorative paper.
Birch bark and fresh leaves are surprisingly pliable; just roll and secure with twine. Find them in Asian markets and outdoors.
Clockwise from top left, we used: banana leaf with cinnamon, bamboo leaves with hemp twine, bamboo leaves with star anise, banana leaves with reeds, birch bark with a feather.
Give a new life to empty potato-chip bags by dressing up your gifts in them. Cut open a potato-chip bag along its seam to reveal the shiny white or silver inside of the bag. Flatten the bag, wash it with soap and water, and air dry. Then wrap your present and adorn it with ribbons and homemade cards.
Have shopping bags lying around the house? Repurpose them into festive gift wrap. Cut an open paper shopping bag along one fold and scissor out the bottom of the bag. Wrap your gift in the paper. Dip one end of a wine cork into ink or a dark fruit juice and begin stamping patterns.
Give holiday gifts unexpected panache by using leftover yarn in place of ribbon. Wind cotton or wool yarn around presents (solid-color paper looks best) a few times for thin stripes or several times more for thick ones. Use a fuzzy yarn to give packages a cozy texture. Combine different yarns for colorful striations. Knot strands tightly on the bottom of each box. If desired, tie a bow on top.
Create a wintry scene on a wrapped present using a paper-dolls technique. Enlarge the two-tree template to desired size; cut out. Accordion-fold a piece of paper to the width of the template. Trace the template onto top fold. Make "ornaments" with a screw punch. Cut out and unfurl trees. Adhere with a glue stick or spray adhesive.
Wrap goods in vintage napkins, handkerchiefs, or other linens graced with lively patterns, and the packaging itself will serve as an added gift. Look for linens at flea markets or online. Fabrics are particularly helpful when wrapping articles whose shapes don't lend themselves to paper. The rest is a cinch: Gather fabric around item; tie with ribbon.
This package is made from a sheet of heavy, textured paper folded around a tissue-wrapped gift. The outer layer is a 12-by-27-inch piece of Japanese kozo paper (commonly known as rice paper and available from specialty paper stores) backed with green paper. Use a ruler or bone folder, available from art-supply stores, to make neat creases 9 inches, 12 inches, and 21 inches from a short side of the paper. Enclose the gift, bind the package with a green satin ribbon, and finish it off with a slim brown ribbon tied in an elegant knot.
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).
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."
Bright stripes revive even your lamest wrap attempt much better than a sad pile of scissor-curled ribbon. Use fluorescent artist's tape or plastic lacing (that stuff you braided into key chains during recess as a kid). 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 (top right). Tiny cards with matching envelopes make nice gift tags, or you can multipurpose some mini sticky notes for a neat postmodern touch.
Accenting sprigs, berries, and leaves with glitter, silver paint, or microbeads turns packages into natural wonders.
Clockwise from top left: Tied up in a bow, mistletoe makes a truly romantic wrap. For a two-tone pair of magnolia leaves that makes a modern statement, combine a natural leaf with one that's spray-painted silver. Make holly pop against crimson paper by silvering the berries: Paint berries with glue, then sprinkle with microbeads. Seeded eucalyptus turns sculptural atop a silver box when the leaves are painted with glue, then coated with glitter. Cedar with a hint of glitter looks enchanting on a tiny box; lightly dust sprig with spray adhesive, then dip in glitter. Vintage string, in Silver; vintage ribbon, in Silver; and silk-satin ribbon; tinseltrading.com.
Make like Santa’s elves and get busy cooking and crafting some holiday cheer with Martha.Watch the Videos
Watch Martha make festive projects perfect for giving.Get the How-Tos
Dig into our archives to see some of our favorite holiday videos through the years.See the Ideas
Make your holidays easier with Martha Stewart-brand gift wrap, craft tools, and gift ideas.Shop Now