Wednesday, December 22, 2010

gift wrapping – a tutorial

Many of you have commented on my gift wrapping. I grew up with the gift wrapping master, my mother. Every Christmas, I was her wrapping partner, and we stayed up late into the night many times making pretty packages.

I know a lot of people don't think they have skills in this area. It's really not hard to do, you just need to know a few tricks!

(Maybe you don't care about pretty packages. If not, read no further. Pretty packages are not for the haphazard wrappers.)

First of all, put your gift in a box if you can. Odd-sized or -shaped gifts are nearly impossible to wrap nicely. If I don't have a box to fit an odd gift, I may put it in a cute gift bag. (And I don't like using gift bags, because then I am deprived of using cute wrapping paper.) That's how hard it is to wrap something like that. Also, sometimes I will put a DVD or video game inside a box, just so the recipient doesn't immediately guess what it is... I like surprises, and I like to inflict them on others, as well.

Secondly, not all wrapping papers are created equal. I still buy cheapo paper from Walmart or the grocery store sometimes if it is really cute, but I usually regret it. It just doesn't wrap as nicely as the thicker stuff you get at Hobby Lobby, Xpedx, TJMaxx, or Michaels. (The printed grid on the back of some papers is a nice bonus.) I have a bit of a wrapping paper fetish, and have had to restrain myself from buying more Christmas paper for the last two years, as Marc reminds me we have plenty.

Here, I chose to use a sub-standard paper because it just fit the recipient better than the nice paper I had on hand. Sometimes I can be a glutton for punishment.

Measuring your paper properly is key to a nicely wrapped package. Loosely fold the paper around the box to make sure it is big enough to go all the way around. Cut the sides with a margin roughly equivalent to the height of your box or less. (Eyeball it here, I'm not crazy enough to measure!)

This is a good height for doing those tricky end folds. (If your paper is too long, you will never be able to get it nicely folded.)

Wrap your paper around your box lengthwise. Crease the paper along the edges of the box. Bring the paper around the other side of the package, pulling taut (but not too tight or your paper may tear). At this point, I like to fold the edge under, creating a nice, finished edge. (I always factor in a little extra for this purpose when measuring the paper.) Tape.

With one end of the package facing you, fold the top edge down and crease along the box.

Press paper down into the corner of the box and crease the triangle that is formed. Repeat on opposite side of same end.

Fold triangle in toward box end and crease along bottom and the new triangle that is formed. Repeat on other side.

If you have enough paper, fold along edge to make another nice, finished edge.

At this point, I usually turn the box around and repeat the folding steps on the other end. Then you can stand the box up on one end without crushing the paper (because it's already folded in).

Tape where necessary on one end, then turn the box around and tape the other end. Voilà!

Now onto the ribbon portion of our gift. You can make a respectable bow with cheapo satin ribbon from the craft store, and it is infinitely preferable to curling ribbon or stick-on bows (in fact, I used it for years). But if you want an effortlessly beautiful bow, you need decent ribbon.

If you're using nice ribbon, don't bother doing the whole criss cross over the package. Once around will do. And even a simple square knot can be very pretty, especially on a small package or with wide ribbon.

If you want more of a bow, try this invention of my mom's: make one long loop, drape it over your knot, and knot the original ends again. (You can take it even further by cutting another straight piece and including it under the loop.)

Easy peasy. Notch your ends and you have got a super-easy, pretty "bow."

I like to add some sort of embellishment to a gift, such as a miniature ornament, a sprig of greenery, or – my favorite – a glittery something. (Target sells glittered snowflakes in the ornament section; I bought a bunch on clearance after Christmas one year. I bought these sayings this year at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.)

Of course, I love to have plenty of cute gift tags on hand. Wrapping is not fun at all if you don't have the supplies you need. I have been collecting free downloads of gift tags, and today I went through them and printed and cut out a bunch. This is a whole lot of happy in my book.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good record of the sources for all of these, but I do have some: (really cute ones in 3 colorways!) (multiple versions!)
angry chicken printable tags (these are funny!)

Happy wrapping!


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Why, THANK YOU! Your tutorial is one gift that will just keep on giving and giving and giving.

Who knew to try and match the paper with the person's personality?

I shall now be on the lookout for tags, glittery ornaments, and sprigs.

Thank you.

I still remember clearly the gift you wrapped for me. In fact, I stil have the silver tag with the "J" stamped on it. This is quite remarkable considering I'm not a storer. But...I keep it for inspiration on making things cuter.

TX Girl said...

This brings back HORRORS from my days as a gift wrapper at ZCMI. The year that the thigh master was a big Christmas gift (oh and it was) was probably the most entertaining year of all. Those things were a bear to wrap!

thanks for the label links! I loved those black apple tags too.

Jill said...

I think you're brilliant to do a tutorial like this! You have such a gift for beautiful wrapping. I want so much to have this talent, but get impatient so easily.

I printed out several sheets of the tags from and love them.

amy gretchen said...

thank you for sharing this michelle. I will not look at wrapping corners again. I had no idea.

I agree, it's fun when you have all the stuff you need on hand.

Petey said...

The "infliction" of surprises, ha ha ha! I love it!

Rebekah said...


gift to Philippines said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial that was absolutely a great gift wrapping ideas.


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