Gift Wrap 101

As a Crafty Person, unquestionably my favorite part of any holiday or occasion is WRAPPING PRESENTS. (Okay, and doing fun makeup, if applicable.) This results in two things : fab-lookin’ gifts, and also a lifetime of people going “omg how even did you do this, is all of this from Saks or what.” You know how Math People will just start talking Math at you and be kind of bemused when you can’t follow along? That’s me with gift wrap. It’s not a mystery! It’s actually pretty easy! SO, I figured this would be a fine and dandy platform to offer a few basic tips, and also share some favorites. LET’S WRAP, YO. (Sorryyyyyy)

STEP ONE : ALWAYS HAVE GOOD STUFF ON HAND

The great thing about festive paper and ribbon — unlike a lot of other crafty crap — is that you know you’ll eventually use it, partially because everyone eventually has shit they need to wrap, and also because they can actually be used for other projects. Ribbons can trim a top or a headband or make a cat toy or whatever, fun printed paper can cover a shoebox for cute storage. So if you tend to feel guilty about “hoarding craft supplies” — I think this is one area where you can give yourself a break.

No such thing as too much ribbon.

WHAT COUNTS AS “GOOD STUFF”?

This is pretty subject to individual taste. But, my general rule of thumb is : simple, abstract, non-specific. That means I bypass the wrapping paper with jolly Santas in Hawaiian shirts, and the paper that says “HAPPY BIRTHDAY,” and the paper that’s printed in ten colors. It’s much like with decorating — the simpler you keep your “background,” ┬áthe fussier you can get with your trimmings. And also, it’s much more ~artsy~ AND much more flexible to have papers in just a couple colors and relatively simple prints.

FINDING GOOD STUFF FOR YOUR HOARD

Yeah, you can buy shit at the drugstore, but it’s going to be overpriced and often pretty lame. Big box stores often come through with the cool — I’ve found a LOAD of fun paper at Target, and craft shops like Michael’s are great for assorted trim things. But the single best place for basically all your gift wrap needs? PaperMart. No question. I will brook no argument on this. Do you need a 15′ roll of ornately embossed silver foil wrapping paper for five bucks? PaperMart. Stripes, plaids, woodgrain print, zebra print? Papermart. A HUNDRED YARDS of actual fabric grosgrain ribbon available in dozens of colors for $3.98? PAPERMART. They’ve also got hundreds of different kinds of gift bags, tissue paper, colorful shred fill, and pretty much any size and type of box you can possibly imagine — standard shirt boxes, jewelry boxes, tiny takeout boxes, pirate treasure chests. PAPERMART! (I effing adore PaperMart.)

That’s a shit ton of gift wrap.

NOW I’M OVERWHELMED AND DON’T KNOW WHAT TO GET

Get a mix! And by “a mix” I mean a couple of things in bright colors and/or simple graphical patterns, and a couple of things in neutral colors and/or more fiddly patterns or textures. Plain brown kraft paper, a brushed gold metallic paisley, blue and white gingham, green polka dots. The same general rule goes for ribbon — a variety of types and widths in a mix of neutrals like white, black, silver, gold, plus a few bright or dark shades. I’m pretty much never without white grosgrain, silver satin, and gold organza, because at least one of them will go with whatever paper I’m using. ALSO, if you tend to frequently have large things to wrap — I mean the size of a bike or microwave, not a shoe box — then it would behoove you to have at least one thing on hand in an extra-wide / extra-long roll, and in a large-scale pattern, since tiny patterns can look weird on big boxes.

BUT ALSO, THINK OUTSIDE THE GIFT WRAP AISLE

You know what’s thin and flexible and tie-able and comes in fairly large quantities for not much money? Yarn. Crochet thread. Raffia. Flat suede cord. Wire garland with tiny pompoms or fake pine needles.

And then there’s fancy rope, pompoms, tassels, jingle bells, and whatever other Weird Shit you can glue on a box.

I HAVE ALL THIS STUFF BUT I’M BAD AT GIFT WRAP

And that’s where our little tutorial slide shows come in!

Gift Wrap Tutorial 1!

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Position box upside down on cut-to-size paper, and anchor one long edge with a piece of tape on the bottom.

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Shove box toward tape to tighten the paper around it.

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Pull paper tight, around the bottom edge where you taped down the other end. While holding it snug, fold paper over that edge to mark it.

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Make a sharp crease where you marked the edge.

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Lift up your crease, and place a few pieces of double-stick tape right along the box's edge.

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Pull your top piece tight again, and press it down onto the double-stick tape. Voila, a sharp as hell seam with no visible tape.

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Cut a slit at an angle on each side of one open edge, going almost all the way to the corner of the box.

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Fold down the sides, and fold the bottom piece over, taping tightly and securely.

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Pull the top piece straight down snug over the box's end, and tuck the angled cut edges of the paper under to create a sharp crease that just meets the box edge.

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Make the final sharp crease on the long edge of the end, so it just hits the edge of the box. Adhere with double-stick tape, just like before.

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WOO, A VERY NEAT BOX.

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On shouty paper, I like multiple types of contrasting ribbon in a harmonious color family. Here, raffia, cheapo antique goldy-green plastic ribbon, and spring green grosgrain.

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NEXT LEVEL : tiny pearl stud stickers are cheap as hell but look cool AF.

Gift Wrap Tutorial 2!

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Place your box lid or base on a cut-to-size piece of paper -- big enough that each end will wrap up around the box's side and partway down the interior edge. You can anchor box to paper with a little piece of double-stick tape in the center. Then, cut diagonal slits almost to each corner.

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Wrap the left and right sides of the paper snugly around the box's edges and tape them tight. Don't worry about the little corners sticking out!

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On the other two sides, pull the paper tight against the box's surface and crease so that it'll hit right at the corner.

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TIGHT CORNERS YEAH. Before you tape them down, you can smooth down the two little sticking-out corners from the other two sides so they're snug.

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SHARP.

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Do the exact same thing with the other half of the box. OOO, in a contrasting paper maybe?

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For layered ribbons, cut them plenty long enough to do whatever kind of bow, and lay them down on a flat surface smallest to largest, centering them as best you can.

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Then place the box on top and wrap them around, adjusting their placement before you pull them tight and tie them.

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VOILA, FANCY BOX. After your primary bow is tied, you can thread smaller ribbons or trim bits through the knot or underneath it.

Truth : the red marble paper box is literally an empty box I wrapped just for those pics. The stripey one was a Finch Prezzie, which she’s already opened so I’m not spoilering anything. :D

AND THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT. Right now. Are you a gift wrap fiend too? Got any favorite shops, favorite tips, favorite anything? Tell us!