“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favourite things!”
Uhm, this song speaks to my soul. Just saying.
But in all seriousness, these really are a few of my favourite things, especially the brown paper packages part. I just love wrapping gifts! There is something so satisfying and special about giving someone a gift that I spent time and love finding and preparing for them. I’ve heard it argued time and time again that it’s what is on the inside that counts, and yes, I wholeheartedly agree, but why can’t it also be thoughtful on the outside too? Admit it - receiving a perfectly wrapped gift makes you feel extra cared about.
Note that I’m using the term perfectly loosely here. Perfect doesn’t require new expensive supplies every season nor does it require hours spent slaving over perfect folds of wrapping paper. Perfect simply just means not throwing your thoughtful, beautiful gifts in the same dollar-store gift bags you’ve been reusing since 1998 (although I do appreciate the reduce, reuse, recycle mentality here). The kind of perfect I’m talking about only requires an extra ounce of effort, but makes a big impact on the recipient of your gift.
But how? Maybe you’re with me on this whole pretty packages thing, but you don’t know how to proceed. Where do I start? What if I don’t have a creative eye? What if I don’t have an unlimited budget?
Fear not, dear friends. In the spirit of thoughtful, joyful, and special gift giving, I’ve compiled this simple list of my favourite gift-wrapping tips to help you take your wrapping to the next level this holiday season.
Perfect Squares are Your New Best Friend
Have you ever tried wrapping a scarf? What about a cardigan? Or the worst of all - a candle (dun, dun, dun)? Between the awkward tape job and potential ripping of the wrapping paper, they aren’t exactly the easiest gifts to wrap. There’s no doubt that wrapping a square box is the easiest thing in the world, so why put yourself through the struggle of wrapping up the odd-shaped items when you could save yourself a lot of time and frustration just by placing your gift inside a box. It makes for neater lines, folds, and tape placement, and prevents the recipient from guessing what their gift is before they’ve even held it in their hands.
This solution doesn’t come with an expensive price tag either. Simply find any empty cardboard box that fits your gift – from the grocery store to your garage, there is bound to be some sort of appropriately sized box lying around. Alternatively, many clothing stores offer gift boxes with your purchase, so take them up on that. Even if you don’t use it for that particular gift, you’ll have it to use if another need arises. Perfect square shapes make for perfectly wrapped gifts, instantly stepping your wrapping game to the next level.
Choose a Palette
Although you don’t have to go overboard to have beautiful, coordinated gifts, making a couple of decisions before you begin can make a world of difference. Try to use supplies in a similar colour and theme palette, making mixing and matching of papers, ribbons, bows, and tags an ease.
Let me clarify that choosing a palette doesn’t necessarily mean choosing perfectly matched papers and ribbons to each other. The purpose is versatility, so you want to have a good variety of supplies, but ones that would work well together in a variety of circumstances. This may mean choosing a few bolder patterned papers with a set of simple and plain coloured ribbons, or choosing exciting patterned ribbons, but opting for a more simple paper design. You could also base your palette on a theme and then look for supplies that work within that. For example, my own gifts this year are wrapped in classic plaid patterned papers and burlap-based ribbons for a “rustic and cozy” theme.
It’s good to have at least one paper in your palette that you know will work well for men’s gifts. There’s nothing quite like picking out your beautiful palette of papers, only to realize that your Dad’s new hammer is going to look really silly wrapped up in sparkly pink wrapping paper. Keep your recipients in mind.
It’s worth noting that this step also doesn’t have to be expensive. Look through the stash of supplies that you already have and pull out a few of your favourite things. Use these to base your palette off of. You may only need to add a couple of new supplies, saving you money in an already tight-budget season. Or better yet, using kraft paper makes for a very inexpensive palette. It goes with just about any ribbon and looks perfectly rustic as it is or could easily be stamped or drawn on for a handmade look. Hey, “handmade” could even be your theme. Get creative here!
Think Beyond Just The Paper
Wrapping your gifts in paper is a great first step but it shouldn’t end there. Adding extra details, like a ribbon, a bow, or a small ornament can make a huge statement for such a minimal amount of effort. The beauty is always in the details, so take the extra effort to add a few extra touches.
If ribbon and bows aren’t in your budget, look for things you already have. A few wraps of twine or wool can look just as put together as an expensive spool of ribbon. I’ve even cut scraps of old fabric and lace into long strips and used it like ribbon too. Pick up a small package of ornaments from the dollar store to add on as extra decoration or try making your own to add on as an additional mini-gift. Any decorative element adds to the overall package, so don’t be afraid to be resourceful and creative.
Like other design projects, I stand by the rule of three when it comes to adding decorative elements to gifts. The rule of three simply creates visual harmony and balance on your gifts by having three visual elements. For example, a good combination to follow the rule of three would be a ribbon tied into a bow, an ornament decoration, and a hanging gift tag. Which leads me to my next point.
Gift Tags Are The New Christmas Cards
Yes. Gift tags. Conveniently marking whom the gift is for. Conveniently adding an extra decorative element. And conveniently allowing you to get away with not writing a card.
I am really not into writing Christmas cards. But gift tags are the new Christmas card. They’re short and sweet and get the good cheer message across loud and clear. Try choosing tags that work with your palette, whether they be purchased, hand-drawn, or printed off the computer. They are so cute, add an extra design element, and don’t leave you feeling guilty when it comes time to throw it out.
Having trouble getting started? Google is an endless resource for wrapping ideas, whether you're looking for low-budget fixes, creative ideas, or free printables. It may seem excessive but I even have a Pinterest board devoted to wrapping ideas. If I'm lacking inspiration on where to start, I usually scroll through those pins first and very quickly find a starting point.
Only know how to tie a basic bow? Youtube is also an awesome resource for gift wrapping tips and tutorials. There are so many different ideas to try that only take a little bit of effort and the supplies you probably already have.
Christmas Music is Required
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
Pump out the tunes while you wrap. It makes it so much more enjoyable and helps to get you in the giving spirit.
What do you guys think? Have I convinced you to put some effort into your Christmas wrapping this year? What are your favourite ways to add a special touch to your Christmas gifts? As always, we’d love to hear your perspective and input!