It’s that time of year, when we begin thinking about Christmas and Hanukkah gifts for our loved ones. If you’re like me, you put a lot of energy into choosing a present that’s just right for your friend or family member. But what about the wrapping? How much thought do you give to the outside of your gifts? It doesn’t have to be hard, expensive, or time-consuming to wrap your gifts in a creative and special way that shows how much you care. Here are a few ideas to help jump-start your creativity.
Sometimes the simplest elements can yield the most pleasing results. For instance, consider Kraft paper. The humble brown paper is just calling for your embellishments. (More on those below.) Newspaper can also be used as the perfect black-and-white background for your creative ideas. Or try the comics section if you prefer some color.
If you’re buying your wrapping paper, think outside of the box and look for non-holiday paper. Dots and stripes are great choices. Don’t feel compelled to stick to red and green for Christmas or blue and white for Hanukah. Choose an unusual color combo, such as black and pink, turquoise and gold, silver and navy, or orange and tan. Imagine a package done up in black wrapping paper with tiny white dots that’s been embellished with a gift tag in red, black, and white. Or how about purple and white stripes tied up with a bright red ribbon?
Maps, either original or photocopied, are great for wrapping gifts. Road maps work well and are inexpensive and readily available.
Got a child or grandchild who enjoys art projects? Why not have them stamp or finger-paint designs onto some plain paper? Imagine how happy mom, dad, or grandparents would be to receive a package that’s been decorated by their favorite little artist.
Old sewing patterns can be used in the same way you’d use tissue paper, for wrapping gifts or to line gift bags. Decorate with old buttons or rick-rack. Sewing patterns can be picked up very inexpensively at your local thrift store.
There are wonderful gift tags available for purchase anywhere wrapping paper is sold. But for a more personal touch, you might want to make your own. It’s super-easy to do. Just pick up some seasonal scrapbook paper from a craft store such as Michael’s. You can even get a tag punch machine for a quick and easy way to punch out uniform tags. Rubber stamps or your own hand-painted design add flair.
Etsy is a great source for tags. I saw some cute reindeer ones there that were affordable at $12 for 24. You’ll find plenty of choices, including ready-made and downloadable tags that are instantly available for printing with your own computer.
Also consider stickers. You can find holiday and other colorful stickers just about anywhere, from Michael’s to Etsy to your local drug store. They work well on both solid paper and prints. You can even make your own stickers using a favorite photo at Zazzle.com.
Another way to add distinctive decorations to your gift packages is to find appealing illustrations in books and photocopy them using a color copier. I did this one year with pictures I found in a Christmas book at my library (see images below).
Ribbon is the traditional way to finish off a package, and today there are loads of colors, widths, and materials to choose from. Don’t confine yourself to holiday ribbon. Take a look around your local fabric shop, Target, Walmart, or Michael’s. For a cheerful, unique wrapping, remember to try off-beat colors, such as turquoise paper tied with sparkly gold ribbon. Or try combining contrasting materials, such as Kraft paper and wide velvet ribbon, maybe in dark green or bright orange.
For something completely different, tie your present with yarn, string, rick-rack, lace, or raffia. I had a friend who for years wrapped her holiday gifts in Kraft paper tied with bright red raffia. Her packages had a sort of country feel and really reflected her personal style.
I like to add something little and fun as a finishing touch to my gifts. I love using bright vintage buttons that I find in thrift shops and antique stores, but you could also use little jingle bells or old keys. Or go natural with shells, mini pine cones, twigs (yes, twigs!), cinnamon sticks, sprigs of holly, or snippets of pine boughs.
Take a tip from interior designers: layer it up. Paper that’s been decorated can be topped off with a wide ribbon layered with a thin ribbon, raffia, or string. The final touch is your little embellishment tied to the package.
It can be really fun for both the giver and the receiver if you develop a theme for your gifts and your gift wrapping. For instance, consider doing multiple packages in a naughty and nice theme: black paper & black ribbon (naughty), and white paper with red hearts (nice). Or choose wrapping to reflect what’s inside. For my pen-pal, I bought a fuzzy throw that had images of postcards printed on it. It seemed only right to wrap the throw in paper that also had images of postcards.
I’m sure you’ll agree that special people deserve special gifts with special wrapping. And with a little thought and creativity, you can make your presents not just presentable, but memorable.
Beth Schoch is a creative Mainer, constant dreamer, retired writer, passionate photographer, positive thinker, and cancer survivor. Perhaps her love of creative gift wrapping was inspired by her artist dad’s wonderful Christmas packages, which were as much fun to look at as they were to open.