Stamped Gift Wrap
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.
Eco-Friendly Paper Gift Wrap
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.
Green and Brown Gift Wrap
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.
Cloth Gift Wrap
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.
Tissue Paper Bottle Wrap
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.
Natural Gift Wrap
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.
Fabric Bottle Wrap
Wrap bottles of wine in colorful fabric and top with a spring of holly or pine for a seasonal touch.
Potato-Chip Bag Gift Wrap
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.
Stamped Shopping Bag Gift Wrap
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.
Tower of Boxes
Several boxes are stacked and tied up in two giant ribbons. Each box is wrapped first in colored tissue paper, then frosted over with a sheet of glassine, available by the sheet or roll from archival-supply houses.
Kraft Paper Gift Wrap
Kraft paper makes an attractive yet sturdy wrapping for oddly shaped packages. Once wrapped, add special trimmings and gift tags to your package.
Color-Coded Wrapping Paper
Assign each family member a different color paper, and you won't even need gift tags. This is a fun way for everyone to identify his or her presents.
A Unified Color Palette
Choose a palette to unify the gifts you wrap -- then vary the materials; everything you give will have your signature for the season.
Biodegradable stuffing cushions small, fragile items just as well as plastic bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts, a recycler's worst nightmare.
Newspaper Gift Wrap
If you're still searching for that perfect gift wrap, look no further than your local newsstand. Add a memorable twist by wrapping your presents using foreign-language newspapers.
Translucent Gift Wrap
With a series of crisp folds, glassine -- or less expensive tissue -- serves as both wrapping paper and ribbon.
Yarn-Embellished Gift Wrap
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.
Vintage Linen Wrap
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.
Button Gift Wrap
This button-stamped gift wrap is fun to make. Affix button to a cork with double-sided tape. Place plain paper on a piece of felt or a folded piece of fabric (this cushions the paper so the mark will be even). Top with a pretty button tied on with baker's twine.
Jingle Bells Wrap
Re-create the sound of Santa's sleigh with a small bell attached to Christmas parcels. Purchase the bells at crafts stores, and use lengths of thin ribbon or cord to secure to packages. The box shown here is also decorated with a band of velvet ribbon.
Woven Ribbon Wrap
Here's our idea of thinking outside the box: interweaving ribbons to dress up a gift. The weaving begins with a single ribbon stretched across the top of the package, its loose ends fixed to the bottom with double-sided tape.
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.
Custom-Print Wrapping Paper
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).
Tassel Gift Wrap
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."
Brightly Striped Gift Wrap
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.
Nature-Inspired Gift Wrap
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.