Gift Wrapping 101

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Gift Wrap

Gift Wrap (Photo credit: themarina)

The other day my sister confessed to me that she has no real idea how to wrap gifts. It wasn’t a surprise – it is fairly obvious, especially since she tends to heavily favor gift bags.

Gift bags are great, but nothing beats a beautifully-wrapped box, complete with ribbons and bows. Chances are, you’ll be wrapping a gift or two (or ten) this weekend, so just in case your gift-wrapping never seems to come together quite right, here’s a quick how-to:

1. Examine your gift and remove the price tag(s). For some reason, my husband and sons can never do this (In the case of my sons, I actually believe they leave the price tag attached on purpose – they love pointing it out when I open it). I have, on several occasions, forgotten whether I removed the tag from a gift and have resorted to unwrapping gifts to check before re-wrapping them. Get in the habit of removing the tag first and save yourself the time and worry.

2. Get tape, a pen, scissors, gift tags, wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon together before you begin. This saves you from running all over your apartment looking for the tape. Put everything on a tray to the side of your wrapping station. For some reason, pens, tape, and scissors have a habit of “hiding” right when you need them, and you spend valuable time hunting around, only to find them buried under your wrapping paper scraps and piles of ribbon.

3. Roll the wrapping paper out pretty-side-down and place your gift upside down on the paper. Fold the paper over the gift before cutting to make sure you have enough paper to cover the entire package, plus some to fold for a clean edge.

4. Cut the paper in a straight, even line. Now, fold up the paper that will cover the sides of the box. Position the box so one end of the paper hits about halfway up the box. Cut the other side to match.

5. Fold the paper snugly over the gift and fold the cut side under about a 1/4 inch so the cut doesn’t show – just the nice, folded edge. Tape it down.

6. Turn the box so you are looking at one side. Fold the paper down and crease the edges on an angle out from the bottom of the box. Tape it and fold the creased edges in. Fold the bottom paper in to hide the cut edge and fold it up over the top and side edges. Tape, then repeat on the other side.

There! Your gift is wrapped without paper bunched up on the sides or mountains of tape covering the seam. Now, it’s time to decorate the box. Don’t resort to the bag-o’-bows. Instead, use something less traditional. Wired ribbon, for example, will make your gift look stunning and it is very easy to work with. Just set the gift on the ribbon so there’s an equal amount of ribbon on each side, wrap the ribbon up around the box, and tie a big bow on top. The wire allows you to shape the bow.

You may also want to use non-traditional items that accompany the gift inside. For example, the gift of a coat can be accentuated with a matching scarf tied around the box. Find a matching brooch for the blouse you are wrapping and pin it to the ribbon. You can even wrap a smaller gift and attach it to the larger.

If you don’t want to use wrapping paper, there are several alternatives. If you prefer to recycle, use newspaper, old maps, or even T-shirts to wrap gifts. Tea towels are great for gift-wrapping, especially if you are giving a kitchen-related gift or are wrapping a hostess gift.

Believe it or not, there really are hundreds of uses for duct tape – especially the new, colorful kind. Wrap your gift in plain paper and then add different-colored strips of duct tape in an alternating pattern. Repeat, leaving equal spaces, going the opposite direction for a checkered pattern.

Once you have the basics of gift-wrapping down, get creative with your packages and wow your recipients. From using decorative hole punches to stencils to stamps to doilies, the possibilities are endless. And if you don’t like the results, just start over!