This post contains affiliate links. If you were to make a purchase through one, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.
How do you gift wrap? Do you slap some paper around a box or throw a present into a bag at the last minute?
You have put thought into the gift itself, why not spend a few extra minutes making the package look extra special?
Let me tell you that it is easy to get creative with your gift wrapping and take your presents from blah to beautiful.
Here are all my gift wrapping tips and tricks (more than 60!) including how to wrap large or odd shape gifts, how much paper you need, how to gift wrap without wrapping paper, tape, or ribbon. Holiday gift wrapping has never been so easy!
Need a refresher on how to gift wrap? Jump over to this easy step-by-step gift wrapping tutorial showing how to wrap a present perfectly.
Set up a Work Area with All your Gift Wrapping Supplies
Before you start, have all the basic gift wrapping materials around. That way you won’t waste time searching for anything while you’re busy wrapping.
- A kitchen table or a big desk are great for wrapping packages on.
- Your basic gift wrapping supplies are the gifts, wrapping paper, a pair of sharp scissors, double-sided sticky tape, a pencil, and a ruler.
- Go through your paper supply for things to use as decoration like colorful cardstock or construction paper, old greeting cards, brown paper bags, gift tags, seals, and stickers.
- Your sewing basket can be a treasure trove for gift wrap embellishments. Keep a small basket with ribbons, bits of yarn and lace, string, rickrack, and bows.
- Raid your kitchen drawer. Now is the time to use up all those gold star labels lurking at the back of that drawer. Go all out and collect extra trimmings like rhinestones, sequins, beads and buttons, small ornaments, candy canes, pine cones, dried flowers, and pieces of Christmas greenery.
- While you are packing, keep all your wrapping scraps until you’re finished: Paper cutouts can be used for trimming and making DIY gift tags. Ribbon remnants can be used for securing bows. Reuse and recycle untorn paper to wrap smaller packages.
Use your ironing board: it’s just the right width for wrapping all those small or medium size gifts and easy to move anywhere. Plus the height is adjustable, so no back pain from hunching over.
It’s all about the paper
- The best wrapping paper is thin but tough.
- Thicker, stiff papers aren’t so easy to fold and not very forgiving. Once you fold, there’s a crease and there is no turning back.
- Avoid cheap thin papers and foils because these rip easily.
- Good to know: Wrapping paper with busy patterns is more forgiving and can hide some possible messy wrapping when you’re last-minute wrapping and running out of time.
- To remove creases from folded or wrinkled wrapping paper, lightly press them with your iron on the lowest heat setting. Iron on the wrong side of the paper and test a small piece first! This works for traditional gift wrap and tissue paper. Do not try to iron waxed paper or foil.
- Store your wrapping paper rolls neatly. Stand them in a vase or magazine holder, or place larger rolls in a clean plastic trash can or umbrella stand. Or opt to purchase a special wrapping paper organizer. These are great especially if you have a lot of rolls to store.
- After the holiday season, stock your wrapping supplies with solid-color paper. Pair solids with the right ribbon and you can use them year-round for all occasions Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and baby showers.
Let’s Start Wrapping
First things first. How much wrapping paper will you need? A quick and simple trick is to wrap a piece of string around your box and add 1 or 2 inches. Cut paper to match the length of the string.
Check out the gift wrap tutorial for a step-by-step how to measure and mark your gift wrap for cutting.
- Don’t use too much wrapping paper. It makes it harder to wrap, and all that excess paper makes your gift look bulky and messy.
- Also don’t use too much tape, again, messy. And it will make it harder for the recipient to reuse the paper if they would want to.
- Instead, use double-sided tape on the inside of the paper. It makes your wrapping look totally polished and professional! Get a bulk package of tape before you start, so you don’t run out.
- To make your gift wrap look neat and crisp, go around and pinch all sides of the box with your fingertips for sharp, clean creases.
- If you need to wrap a gift without tape, use Christmas seals, gold stars, or other holiday stickers instead of tape. Instant decoration and problem solved!
No need for name tags: Use different kinds of wrapping paper for each member of the family. Gifts can be left in plain sight under the tree and no one knows which is his until it comes time to open them.
Sharp scissors are your gift wrapping friend
- Use your gift wrapping scissors only for cutting your wrapping paper and ribbon to keep them sharp and clean.
- If cutting straight isn’t your forte, buy paper with horizontal or vertical lines in the pattern and simply cut along the lines.
- If your cut edge is jagged, fold it under for a straight, smooth seam and a cleaner look.
- Cut and wrapped so much your scissors are getting dull? Fold a piece of tin foil about four layers thick and cut through a few times. They’ll be almost new again.
How to Wrap Gifts with No Wrapping Paper?
Have no wrapping paper to pack your gifts? Look around your house, there are many substitutes to use to wrap your presents.
- You can wrap Christmas presents in brown kraft paper, white butcher paper, or shelf paper. Add a bow or other trimmings to add holiday cheer. Inexpensive and great to use year-round.
- To wrap small gifts, cut open paper grocery bags. Use a low-heat iron to press the creases.
- Another way to wrap small gifts without wrapping paper, is to make enlarged photocopies of favorite family snapshots. Use these oversized photos wo wrap those small boxes in.
- Use old sewing pattern papers, wallpaper, sheet music, foreign maps, or newspapers.
- If you have no paper at all, pack your gifts in baskets or pretty tins. They don’t need to be wrapped and can be re-used by the recipient
Brown paper bags like these decorated as gingerbread houses are a great option for those small or odd-shaped gifts to wrap. So cute!
How to pack large and irregular hard-to-wrap gifts
How to wrap presents if you don’t have enough paper? Try turning the package diagonally and wrapping it at an angle.
If there is no way it will fit and the package is too large for your wrapping paper, you have to think outside of the box. Here are a few options:
- You need bigger paper. Wallpaper is great for large gifts.
Or you can fasten two pieces of wrapping paper together with double-sided tape. This makes one large piece of wrapping paper hopefully big enough for your gift. Treat the taped line just as you would a crease in the paper.
- Another great option is to wrap large presents in paper or plastic tablecloths. Christmas tablecloths are a low-cost solution to wrap big, odd-shaped gifts, like a skateboard or bike. And you can keep and reuse them after unpacking. Score!
- For those very large gifts such as bulky appliances, don’t use wrapping paper at all. Instead, spray paint the box. Use stencils and stickers and put a big ribbon bow on top.
- If the gift is too big or bulky to put under the tree, put it out of sight somewhere and buy a toy version of the real gift. Tie on a big bow and put that under the tree.
- Instead of a miniature version of the gift, make use of the instruction manual, if the gift has one. Wrap the manual to symbolize the real gift. Add a note where the recipient can find the actual gift.
- Put odd-shaped gifts like stuffed animals and mittens in boxes for easier, neater wrapping.
Do what I do and save good boxes throughout the year. Look for sturdy, rectangle shapes in different sizes.
Round, circular presents like a beautiful candle, can be a bit of a challenge. Follow the easy step-by-step tutorial on How to wrap cylindrical gifts. If you’re feeling crafty, check out this DIY Christmas Nutcracker gift wrap.
Ribbon and bows
Now that you have your package neatly wrapped, let’s have fun with ribbons and bows.
- Use what you have. All sorts of pretty supplies from your sewing box can be used. Look for things like ribbon, string, rickrack, sequins, rhinestones, beads and buttons.
Combine all your scraps and transform your gift wrap in a pretty ribbon ornament Christmas gift wrap!
- Learn how to make a bow and practice your bow-tying. The bow is the first thing people see, so don’t treat it as an afterthought. A basic gift wrap bow is simple and quick to make, so don’t skip.
- You can fix wrinkled ribbon, by taking it through a slightly warm curling iron. Test on a little piece first.
- Cut your fabric ribbon at an angle to prevent fraying. Fold the ribbon vertically and snip the tip downward. This makes a tiny “v”, and gives your bow a professional look. You can also use something like a liquid anti-fray on the edges.
- A simple bow goes a long way. Ask a friend to hold up two fingers. Loop your ribbon around a couple of times. Cut off a small piece and tie it around the looped ribbon. Take the ribbon off the fingers, spread out the loops, and attach it to the package. Voila.
- Run out of ribbon? If you don’t have any ribbon but want a bow, use several different colored pieces of yarn or bakers twine twisted together. Wrap around several times and tie in a bow.
A classic layered tailored bow looks impressive and is made in just a few easy steps. A great finishing touch to your gift wrap!
You can make your own handmade gift tags by recycling old Christmas cards or wrapping paper scraps.
Cut gift tag-sized rectangles from the card or paper, glue on cardstock paper if needed. Write recipients’ names on the back, punch a hole in the top, and thread ribbon or string through.
Trimming your packages
- Finish your gift wrap with fun trimmings. Use bits of holiday greenery and small ornaments.
- Get creative and visit your local Dollar store or thrift store. Besides the holiday and craft sections, also walk down the jewelry aisle.
Look for beaded necklaces, jeweled bracelets, and hair accessories. You can take them apart and recycle bits and pieces to decorate your gift wrap with.
- Have an old collection of postal stamps collecting dust? Use them to decorate your gift wrap! (Please make sure you are not using one-of-a-kind super special stamps). Tie some string around to give the whole package a vintage look.
You can also purchase sets of assorted used postal stamps on Amazon. If you prefer, you can also get Christmas stickers that look like stamps.
- Cut a special message out of letters from newspapers or magazines. Or use the letters to spell out the recipient’s name. Glue to the front of a plain package.
- Pressed flowers can make striking decorations. Combine them with a baker’s twine string tied around a few times and tied in a bow.
Sweets for your sweet. For boxed gifts, fill the spaces around the present with jelly beans, chocolate kisses or another favorite candy.
Gift Wrapping Kids Presents
Handmade pompoms are great to put on kids’ presents. Or add some whimsy by using colorful shoelaces, yarn, or licorice laces instead of regular ribbon.
Steal the show with this easy DIY honeycomb snowman gift wrap!
Bonus gifts in the form of small toys or stuffed animals can be charming ornaments for a gift.
Or, for a big toy or game, choose a pillowcase printed with a favorite cartoon character.
Reuse and Recycle Wrapping Paper
Don’t toss out the paper after unwrapping. Quality wrapping paper can be reused, especially if the packages are carefully unwrapped without too much tearing.
You can recycle plain, non-laminated wrapping paper. Don’t recycle foil wrap or if the paper has lots of leftover tape, ribbons, or bows still attached.
Be frugal and save the wrapping paper scraps even after you’ve finished wrapping: Why pay for expensive specialty papers for your scrapbook or other paper crafts like your next decoupage project, when gift wrap works just as well?
You can also use scraps to decorate your presents like these easy-to-make paper ornaments.