Gift Wrapping Techniques

You just need to know a few basic gift wrapping techniques, along with some ideas for adding a creative and earth-friendly element to the process if you want to make the gift-opening experience more exciting, express creativity and even show an extra measure of personal appreciation for the recipient.

The Basics

Choose Your Paper. This step is as simple, or as creative, as you want it to be. It could entail a trip to the store to purchase a roll of pre-decorated gift wrapping paper. However, many other gift wrap options can easily add a personal, whimsical or artistic flair to the gift.

You can go with eco-friendly gift wrap or make some out of what you have around the house. Here are some suggestions: brown bags cut and turned inside-out (decorate with stickers, paint, stamps or even personalized messages to the recipient), newspaper or magazine pages (tape pieces together to make a larger piece), fabric scraps, wallpaper remnants or samples, tissue paper, kids' art projects, posters or old maps.

Adjust the Paper Size. Put your chosen paper printed side down on your work surface. Put the gift upside down on top of the paper so that there is enough paper to curl over at least half of the edge of the gift on one side. Bring the other side of the paper over the gift, covering it entirely and meeting the other edge of the paper. Now the gift wrapping length is just over double the length of the gift. Cut or add to the paper size until it is right for the gift to be wrapped.


Wrapping the Gift. Now that the paper is the right size, move the gift so that it is sitting relatively in the middle of the wrapping paper. Bring the two longest sides to meet in the middle of the gift, and use clear tape to tape one side down on top of the other. Turn the entire package over so the part that was just taped is now on the bottom and the gift is right side up.

Time for wrapping the gift sides. Both sides of the gift should have paper overhanging. Adjust the gift if necessary to make it evenly centered inside the gift wrapping material. Then, choose one side, and fold in the left and right sides of the paper overhanging the gift (as opposed to the top and bottom) to touch the gift. Crease the paper neatly. Now there should be the top and bottom flaps left to fold in. To make a neat, finished look, it may be necessary to trim the excess paper a little, or else fold it over before closing the top and bottom flaps toward the center of the gift. Tape the top flap over the bottom flap once they are closed. Then, repeat the process on the other side of the gift.

Wrapping Irregularly Shaped Gifts. Try to follow the basic steps above, adding flaps on the sides if necessary, or extra pieces of gift wrapping material. Pages of a magazine taped together to make wrapping paper can be arranged in any size, and they also make the wrapped gift fun to examine. Imperfect wrapping can be made to look whimsical by adding some accessories, such as bows, ribbons or even some raffia tied in a bow. You can also make the job easier by putting irregular-shaped gifts into a regular-sized box before wrapping, and the gift will be harder for the recipient to identify from its shape.

Getting Creative

Here are some unique gift wrapping ideas that are eco-friendly and save money:

The Personal Touch. Plain brown bags are great for wrapping a gift and, they're recyclable. Cut the bags open along the side and around the bottom with scissors, turn the printed side down and then decorate the paper as you choose.

If you have children, they'll enjoy getting involved in making the paper. They can splatter paint on the bag, add colorful drawings or use sponges as stamps. They can also cut shapes from construction paper, lay them on the paper, paint over them and pick them up. Stickers, pictures cut from magazines, decorative string, ribbons, shapes, leaves, flowers, glitter or sequins would look great on homemade wrapping paper.

Finally, you can take some brightly colored markers and write occasion-appropriate sayings on the paper. Adding little drawings to accompany the sentiments, along with some compliments to the recipient can make plain gift wrapping into an artistic tribute to the recipient.

Creative Containers. Looking around the house can yield other ways of wrapping a gift. You can either place the gift into a container and then wrap it or decorate the container itself. Here are some common household containers that lend themselves to great gift-wrapping possibilities: coffee cans, paper towel tubes, plastic containers and metal cookie tins. Consider wrapping one of these containers with ribbon, or covering it with stickers or hand-drawn pictures.

The Wrapping Is a Gift. Consider wrapping a gift in something that can be a gift in itself, such as a new beach towel, pillowcases or sheets. A child would love a gift wrapped in a new t-shirt that is tied with ribbons along the bottom and neck.

Creative gift wrapping can make gift giving even more fun for the recipient and the giver. Add eco-friendly, artistic and personal flair to your gift wrap ideas, and you may find that the recipient remembers the gift wrapping longer than he or she remembers what gift came inside it.

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Have you ever made your own handmade gift wrapping paper or handmade gift bags? Let's face it, there's always something going on that requires some type of gift-giving, and we all enjoy giving.

These gift wrapping ideas merge classic tips with new innovations, such as texture and going green. If you want your gifts to be special and creative, don't conform to the old standbys. Instead, start thinking outside the box.

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