Wrapper’s Delight: A Guide to Beautifying Your Gifts the DIY Way

Wrap Your Presents in Corduroy and Denim

When it comes to paper, simpler is usually better. Sticking with something relatively boring means you can play it up later with cards, bows and ribbons. Plus, unless you’re giving a present to my grandma, your giftee isn’t going to save the paper.

g. Plain Old White Paper – Seriously easy. The only downside to this is that sometimes you need more than one layer if you can see through it.

h. Fabric – Instead of using paper, wrap their present in something that’s truly sustainable. You can go ahead and wrap it like a normal box (forgoing tape for ribbon) or you can get fancy and try out some furoshiki.

i. Magazines – If you’re not a magazine reader, head to the mall and pick up catalogues from stores like Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware. They’re always full of pictures, which makes it easy to find a whole page covered in something nice to look at.

j. Newpaper – The old standard. Bonus points if it’s from another country!

k. Cut Paper – Using papel picado or paper snowflakes to wrap your present can be cool if it’s not a surprise. If it is, you can lay your snowflake on top of white paper and spray paint (or spray glue and sprinkle with glitter) over it so that when you remove the snowflake, the design’s still there and use can use the paper normally once it’s dry.

l. Brown Paper Bags – Make your package look like mail! Or don’t. Brown craft paper looks good with almost everything.


Other ideas – graph paper doodles, coffee or tea stained paper, aluminum foil, tissue paper, watercolored paper, calendar pages

Next up: Excitement in the form of decorations

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 1 article for us.


  1. I loved this Laura! It’s right up my alley! I don’t know if I’ll be able to kick my wrapping paper addiction entirely, because like the song, it’s one of my favorite things, but it will definitely help cut down on it.

    But there are so many awesome ideas here. Bookmarking this for sure.

  2. Also also also you can get into Furoshiki (Google it for endless videos) which is the Japanese art of wrapping presents in fabric. I use old sheets torn up, or cheap cloth from a yardage store, or even old t-shirts torn up. Particularly good for oddly-shaped things.

      • it seriously is! and it’s faster, greener, and generally cheaper than just about any other wrapping art.
        Ever since my company started doing furoshiki-inspired wrapping (with fun scarves that support good causes!) I wrap most all my gifts in fabric (and use a scarf I loved but never wore as my purse). furoshiki.com/techniques is quite useful for basics:-)

  3. Wrapping always gets creative in my house because we’re all trying to disguise the actual gift — your gift card will be inside a box of cereal, weighed down with six rolls of pennies; your earrings have been stuck to a packaging peanut thrown in a puzzle box with a bunch of decoy packing peanuts (and the puzzle pieces are in a shirt box, and the shirt was rolled up in your stocking); the keys for your new car are inside a pair of new driving gloves which are hanging from the tree. I once wrapped a hat in legos. But the all time winner was a little custom made puzzle, which my sister had to put together to read a clue which directed her to look in the linen closet for her gift, where she found an origami dodecahedron that she had to figure out how to take apart to find a silly putty egg. Pressed into the silly putty was a charm for her charm bracelet.

  4. Also if you use plain white paper for wrapping, you can use watercolor techniques from the AS Penpal post. I’ve been spattering secret Santa gifts with red/green paint and I’ll probably make some thumbprint people soon.

    And I’m definitely going to make a few popup bow name tags, as well as a couple of package-esque boxes with brown paper and stamps!

  5. The other day I used butchers paper left over from moving to wrap a Kris Kringle, then drew (I can’t draw) in oil pastel all over it. It looked so bad. Such a pity I hadn’t read this! (Although since the gift I was giving was Autostraddle inspired tea, maybe it’s just as well. People already think I’m obsessed!)

    But now I’m making Eric Carl style Xmas cards, which are super adorable.

  6. FYI, I wrapped a present in magazine pages with a magazine bow for white elephant at a party tonight, and it was a huge hit. Everyone things I’m super talented now, when in reality I’m just too poor to buy wrapping paper. So thanks, Laura!

  7. Aww thanks for thinking of Australians. I just learned it is going to be 40 degrees celsius where I am on Christmas! Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day, indeed.

    Cool flower but i think the magazine blow wins this year.

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