All of Our Most Beautiful Bows, Ribbons, and Gift Toppers
You could buy patterned wrapping paper, but why do that when you can easily make your own winsome designs? We can show you how to use everyday party-store finds (think paper cupcake liners, tinsel garlands, pom-poms, and colorful confetti) to spread mirth and merriment—even before the boxes are opened.
Once wrapped, it is the ribbons tied up into pretty bows, tags, and creative toppers that make for a finishing touch on any gift. Most ideas can be recreated with inexpensive materials and just a little finesse. For instance, with a little scissor work, basic self-adhesive bows are transformed into sumptuous blooms. For each "flower," cut the loops of one small bow and one large bow at an angle; then affix the small bow to the empty center of the large bow. Showcase a single bloom, or pair with more matching ribbon. Accenting sprigs, berries, and leaves with glitter, silver paint, or microbeads (as shown here) turns packages into natural wonders. Tassels and beads can be upcycled out of magazine clippings. And when it comes to loose spirals, there's only one rule: The more, the merrier. Run a scissor blade down ribbon, from middle to ends, varying the tension for tight or loose curls.
All of these easy-to-make toppers can live on long after the special occasion has past and the wrapping is in the recycling bin. Once the gift has been revealed, the handmade trinkets can serve as ornaments or holiday decorations for seasons to come.
Magazine Paper Beads and Tassels
Glossy magazines have something e-readers never will: crisp, saturated pages you can repurpose in this genius way. Flip through old issues and snip parts of images containing colors and patterns you like, then make one of these two toppers.
To make beads, cut skinny triangles out of magazine pages: 1 by 8 inches for smaller beads; 2 by 8 inches for larger ones. With the image face-down, dab white glue onto long tip of triangle. Then, starting at wider end, use a wooden skewer to tightly roll triangle around itself into a bead shape, pressing down on glued tip to secure. Hold for a minute to set, then remove skewer and let dry. Thread twine through middle to attach to gifts.
To make tassels, cut a 2-by-4-inch strip of a magazine page (or, for a longer tassel, increase just the first measurement). Using fringe scissors or regular scissors, cut fringe starting from bottom of rectangle's long side, leaving a little space intact along top edge. Dab a little white glue along that top edge, and with help from a wooden skewer, carefully roll from one short side to the other. Remove skewer and let dry. If desired, cut a strip of contrasting color paper to overlap base of fringe; wrap and glue on. Thread both ends of a piece of twine through center of tassel. Knot ends, forming a loop you can use to attach tassel to gift.
Jingle Bell Toppers
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 them to your packages. The boxes shown here are decorated in various styles: clustered bells, a single jingle bell, or with a band of twine.
Shop Now: Creatology Silver Jingle Bells, 6 mm, $4.29 for 72, michaels.com.
These twig toppers add a whimsical touch to gifts, and you probably already have most of the supplies. First collect a few small twigs and lightly sand them, then brush on a coat of craft paint. Tightly roll small pieces of tinsel garland into pom-poms, trim them to size, and glue them to the twigs.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint, in Party Streamer, Pond, Arrowhead, and Granny Smith, $2 for 2 oz., michaels.com.
Paper Punched Toppers
With just a bit of scissor work (and our handy templates), you can make your own paper embellishments for topping wrapped gifts—including a pretty poinsettia, a tidy bow, and a cheerful clutch of berries. Or get a craft punch to do the work for you (the 3-D snowflake and tree-ornament designs were formed using punches). Holiday bonus: You don't have to add a tag if you choose a paper decoration—just write the recipient's name directly on it.
Pom-Pom and Pipe Cleaner Toppers
These crafting staples aren't only for the grade school set. Pipe cleaners can be bent and twisted into cool gift toppers (or tree ornaments!) even grown-ups can appreciate.
To make a snow fairy, cut three bumps from a white bump-chenille stem. Fold one bump in the middle for legs; repeat with another for arms, trimming the ends a little. Twist the ends of a third bump into a spiral to form the hat. Draw facial features on a wooden bead. Glue the parts together to form the body. Bump-chenille stems are used to create a poinsettia topper with a soft, full look. And this Star of David is composed of two interlocking triangles—no glue required!
Shop Now: Darice Chenille Pipe Cleaners, in Iridescent White, $7 for 25, amazon.com. Caryko Fuzzy Bump Chenille Stems, $7.49 for 100, amazon.com. Creatology Sparkle Pom-Poms, 3/4", $1.49 for 15, michaels.com. and Artminds Wooden Beads, 3/8", $4.49 for 71, michaels.com.
Washi Tape Toppers
Until recently, this decorative tape from Japan was available only in a limited range of colors and patterns. Today, the selection has greatly expanded—as has its popularity here in the U.S., where it's sold nearly everywhere (from office-supply stores to big-box retailers). Here, four ideas are pictured for beautifying your presents with it.
Instead of tying a box with ribbon or string, adhere tape down the middle and around the box, crisscrossing it with another piece of tape to mimic the look of a present tied with ribbon (as on the white gift box). We created the upright nesting-circles topper (also on the white box) by sticking a length of tape to paper, then cutting the paper into strips and bending the strips into circles. For visual interest, add another piece of tape, in a contrasting pattern or color, on the flip side of the strips.
Shop Now: Chugoku Diagonal Stripe Washi Tape, $2, cutetape.com.
Cupcake Liner Toppers
Liners for muffins, cupcakes, and candies come in a whole slew of sizes and a multitude of colors. It's no wonder they make delightful gift toppers.
To make tassels, cut a piece of waxed twine long enough to go around a wrapped box several times. Pinch liner at its center to form a conical shape; knot pinched end with twine to close. Wrap around box, then repeat to make another tassel on other side. To make dots, use a glue stick to adhere flattened cupcake liners directly onto a wrapped box or envelope, layering smaller circles over larger ones and folding designs over edges. To make tags, flatten six or so liners; fold a few, if you desire. Then layer them and glue them together. Using a craft knife, cut two slits in center and thread a ribbon through.
Shop Now: Party City Baking Cups, $2 for 75, partycity.com.
Silver Bows and Toppers
Make your presentation really pop with inexpensive metallic accents (hint: think inside the bow). They add a wonderful three-dimensional element to boxed gifts.
Center a strip of paper-fringe garland on top of a wrapped gift; tie down with silver ribbon, as shown, top left. Or stick a line of self-adhesive mini bows down center of box, as shown, top right. Glue the bottom of a small gift box on top of a store-bought star-shaped tag. Then glue another star tag on top of lid. Or, nestle a tiny box inside an oversize metallic bow.
To make bow tassels, shown in the bottom center, first adhere two mini bows together, flat side to flat side, with one end of a length of bakers' twine in between. Wrap around a wrapped box, then repeat on other end of length of twine.
Instead of tossing the bright paper cutouts, use them to dress up your holiday presents. These happy circles, sold in every color in the rainbow, provide endless cheer.
With a small hole punch, punch out tiny bits of confetti from colorful paper. Adhere double-sided tape to an envelope flap and trim to fit; cover with confetti. Or simply place one strip of double-sided tape on a gift tag, then cover with confetti.
Put a handful of store-bought and mini DIY confetti in a small cellophane bag (trimming as needed to turn it into an envelope), and slip a gift card inside. Or cover a wrapped box with cellophane and toss in confetti before taping up final flap. On the wrapping paper, adhere a strip of double-sided tape down the side of a gift box, and cover with confetti in different sizes and colors to create a fun band of circles.
Shop Now: Shop Sweet Lulu Custom Tissue-Paper Confetti, 3/4", 1", and 1 1/2", in Red, Orange, Tangerine, Carnation Pink, Hot Pink, and Silver Mylar, $7, shopsweetlulu.com.