All of Our Smartest Gift-Wrapping Tips and Techniques


Your shopping is done, and something has been purchased for everyone on your list. But those objects aren't presents until they're wrapped up right: Slip them into boxes topped with sprigs of greenery, tie them with a great big bow, or hide jewels and other treasures inside cardboard containers disguised as lumps of coal.

Follow these simple gift-wrapping strategies to give family and friends one-of-a-kind packages this holiday season.

01 of 14

Mixed Prints

gold foil gift-wrapping paper
Kirsten Francis

For a pile of gifts that's elegant but fun, mix wrapping paper prints and textures. Loosen up your ribbons, too. Go extra-wide and gauzy, or skinny and sparkly—the more billowy, the better.

02 of 14

Marbled Boxes

decoupaged gift wrapping
Kirsten Francis

Cover round boxes with marbled paper, and lucky recipients get chic organizers they can put to good use and proudly display. Tucking more presents inside is purely optional: A nested set this striking holds its own on opening day.

03 of 14

Shibori Fold

fabric giftwrap
Addie Juell

For the friend whose dinner parties you never miss, give a plain linen journal (for jotting down memorable menus and recipes) and a couple of tea towels an artistic upgrade. We used craft paint and painters' tape to add stripes, and freehanded dashes and X's.

The clever conclusion: Bundle them up shibori-style. Place folded towels atop the notebook in the middle of an open towel. Fold top and bottom edges of the towel over items. Flip the bundle over, pull the ends snug, and knot.

04 of 14

Crepe Paper Wrapping

stripes and patterned gift wrapping ideas
Addie Juell

Flexible, forgiving, and just a few dollars per extra-long roll, crepe paper is the versatile and enthusiastic wunderkind of gift wrapping. Pick up some eye-catching colors like tomato, fuchsia, and emerald; throw in a fun metallic; then use our ideas to creatively package any shape to your heart's delight.

05 of 14

Flora and Fauna Cut-Outs

decoupage gift-wrapped
Kirsten Francis

Wield your sharpest scissors, and an illustrated poster can enliven every package under your tree. Neatly cut out pretty flora and fauna, then paste them directly onto petite boxes or cylinders (see our butterfly, snake, and pansy).

Another artful option: Glue them onto card stock to keep the edges from curling, then tuck them under ribbon as tags, or tape them on top, letting them extend just beyond the edges.

06 of 14

Wrapped Journals

decoupaged desk supplies as gifts
Kirsten Francis

Desk supplies join forces fashionably when they're dressed in a matching pattern. Trace the exteriors of a journal and pencil case on paper, then tack on an extra inch. Brush adhesive onto the items and adhere the paper, tightly wrapping the excess around the edges to make clean corners.

07 of 14

Mosaic Boxes

decoupaged gift-wrapped boxes
Kirsten Francis

This aha-moment mosaic will give any party a photo finish. Here's how to do it:

1. Arrange multiple 3-inch boxes in a tight square.

2. Measure the total area of the lids, then cut patterned paper to the same specs.

3. Lightly draw a grid with lines 3 inches apart on the back of the paper.

4. Cut out the squares, keeping them in position, and glue them onto the lids.

5. Tuck tiny favors inside, and push the boxes snugly together for a stunning send-off.

08 of 14

Plant Gift Bags

plant gift bag
Pernille Loof

However pretty an amaryllis may be, nothing says "I got this for you at the grocery store" like a cellophane plant wrapper. To present a green gift—rosemary, orchid, paperwhite, mini boxwood—in a unique way, spray-paint a paper sack in a metallic shade. Let it dry, fold down a cuff at the top for contrast, and drop the plant into your upcycled package to deliver it to a happy hostess or teacher.

09 of 14

Dyed Ribbons

dip-dyed ribbon on gift-wrapped packages
Jong Hyup

It may be your holiday tradition to spend a small fortune on embellished ribbons. But these eye-catching double-dyed bows, made of inexpensive cotton twill (stiffened by ironing with a touch of starch to help them hold their shape), will have everyone wondering who gets to open that box.

Here's how to dip-dye ribbon:

1. Cut desired lengths of ribbon and soak them in water until saturated.

2. Mix fabric dye in bowls according to package instructions (1 cup per color is enough for this project).

3. Dip each ribbon in halfway, holding ribbon in the dye until the desired depth of color is achieved. (Keep in mind that color will look lighter when dry.)

4. Lay ribbon flat on paper towel to dry until no longer dripping.

5. Dampen opposite halves of ribbons again if they feel dry, then dip in dye of another color.

6. Place ribbons on paper towels, keeping colors separate until dry.

7. Iron ribbons and use spray starch, if desired, to help them retain their shape when tied in a bow.

10 of 14

Streamer Decorations

party streamers gift-wrapping
Jong Hyup

When you crisscross crepe-paper party decorations on plain packages, you get a kicky plaid motif that'll delight any recipient. But rest assured: If you can fold streamers, cut shapes along the edges, and layer them with skinnier strips, you can pull off one of these graphic glories.

11 of 14

Mesh Wrapping

brown mesh Christmas cracker
Jong Hyup

Brown paper mesh—aka the eco equivalent of bubble wrap—has lots of winning qualities. It's flexible, durable, and recyclable. And with a pattern this pretty, why hide it inside boxes? Roll up a bottle of wine or olive oil in colored tissue paper, then in paper mesh, letting the color shine through; tie off the ends with colored raffia.

You can also put this method to use for more than just cylindrical gifts. Stuff small goodies in a cardboard tube, or roll up clothing, to stump anyone trying to guess the contents.

12 of 14

Gilded Cardboard

raffia-tied gift package
Jong Hyup

Designed to cushion basically anything and everything in transit, hardworking corrugated cardboard has an artistic side: Its fluted rows keep colored raffia in line brilliantly.

Wrap a parcel in gold paper, then cut the cardboard to fit the top and center it there. Hold the loose end of a roll of raffia, and wrap the other around the box a few times, letting it settle into different grooves. Cut the raffia, leaving a few extra inches, then tie the loose ends into a bow. Repeat with other hues.

13 of 14

Magazine Wrapping

magazine paper gift-wrapping
Jong Hyup

Glossy magazines have something e-readers never will: crisp, saturated pages you can repurpose in this genius way.

Here's how to make the wrapping:

1. Flip through old issues and snip parts of images containing colors and patterns you like.

2. Press clippings onto double-stick card stock, then cut out gift tags, decorative disks (punch a hole or two in each, and thread them on waxed twine), or postcard-size toppers.

3. Using punches will save time, but you can freehand it with scissors.

4. For extra style points, accessorize with colorful paper beads and tassels, made from the same stock.

14 of 14

Painted Paper

red and gold painted gift-wrapping paper
Kate Mathis

For an extra-special presentation, we took plain paper, which you can buy in bulk, and made smaller pieces super-pretty with a little paint and an unexpected tag or bow. We thinned acrylic paint with water, then splattered gold dots with a narrow brush.

Pictured top right: Spray-paint lines across each sheet, or go over some bands again for an ombré effect. Pictured bottom: Use gold acrylic paint and a brush to dab dashes or make stripes across the paper.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles