Works For Me: Simple Gift Wrapping Tips

I really love gift wrapping.  I love it so much that I wish I could do it for a living.  In fact, shortly after college, I had a brief (and mostly unsuccessful) stint in retail, which was so lovely–I handled all their gift wrapping for the store.  Unfortunately, I also bungled the cash register and never could figure out sales tax and broke out in hives when I had to make change.  You know, math.  But with the scotch tape?  I was a wizard.

Here are a few fun (and cheap) gift-wrapping tips I’ve learned over the years, especially for Christmas, when you’re gift-wrapping on a large scale.

Consider using only one style of wrapping paper.  This is mostly a matter of personal preference, but I think it’s lovely when all the presents under the tree match.  Plus, it makes it easier to piece together leftover scraps when you get to the end of the roll.

The dollar store is your friend.  Those stores where everything costs a dollar are great places to buy wrapping paper, though if hyper-frugality is your thing, you might want to check the amount of paper you’re getting for your money (i.e., it would make more sense to pay $3 for 75 sq. feet of paper than to pay $1 for 10 sq. feet.  Thank you, math.)

Use address labels.  I slip a sheet of plain white address labels into my printer, and I type up one page with every label I expect to need this season.  For a custom look, you can use a pretty font, colors, and even clip art, and, best of all, all your labeling is done.  Slip the sheet of labels into the place you keep your wrapping supplies to use all season.

Let kids wrap the gifts they give.  This requires a little deep-breathing if you tend to be particular about how your gifts look, but it’s a satisfying thing for a kid to be involved the process.  Especially if the gift is from them.  (And, incidentally, the dollar store is another excellent place for kids to buy gifts for siblings.)

Make your own paper!  One year I wrapped everything in plain brown shipping paper and let the kids go crazy with stickers and markers all over the packages.  It’s a fun activity for them.

Tulle is cheap, easy and pretty.  Tulle–you know, the type of fabric netting you might see on a bridal veil–is incredibly cheap.  I bought some last week, on sale at the fabric store, for only 75 cents a yard.  Cut a strip about 6-8 inches wide, and tie up your gift with that, instead of some other kind of ribbon.  I wrapped a gift yesterday to demonstrate:


Have a marathon wrapping session.  I know plenty of people who gift wrap throughout the month, as they go.  True, this helps keep your gifts concealed, if nosy little creatures go snooping.  But I find it to be a real handful to be constantly lugging the gift wrap supplies in and out.  I hide my gifts, and then I have one big gift-wrapping session (with the door locked!) when I’m finished with my shopping.  If you are inclined to wrap as you go, though…

…consider keeping all your supplies in one place.  Find an out-of-the-way corner and stash everything together: scissors, tape, ribbon, paper, labels, pens, etc.

What am I forgetting?  Have you stumbled across any helpful giftwrapping tips over the years?

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98 thoughts on “Works For Me: Simple Gift Wrapping Tips

  1. Angie @ Many Little Blessings says:

    Too funny — my WFMW this week is kind of a gift wrapping tip. (It’s a gift suggestion that has to do with gift wrap.) Hmmm…wonder why we’re thinking about gift wrap? 😉 LOL (Says the girl who just had four boxes from arrive by UPS today.)

  2. Kirsty says:

    Great tips, thanks! I love those little paper cutters (I think they are made by the Scotch tape people) at this time of year, they may seem gimmicky but they save a ton of time. I also like to get a type of wrapping paper for each family member, eliminates the need for labels and keeps kids in suspense until the last minute. (Less chance of them figuring out whose is whose and what is what)
    Loving your tulle!

  3. aunt mommy says:

    Ah, Tulle! I’ve used it for “ribbons” but not wrapping. I like that.
    I’ve actually spent time as a professional gift wrapper, and my favorite tips from the long-term pros:

    Have a ribbon handy to measure the gift; then use it to measure the paper. You don’t have to fold the paper on the roll to make it fit. This prevents wrinkles.
    Don’t cut the paper – tear it using a flat surface and yardstick.
    Glue sticks can make a great replacement for plastic tape.

  4. Blue Castle says:

    I love the tulle idea!
    We’ve used butcher paper and then brown shipping paper too. One year I cut star and tree “stamps” out of potatoes, painted them with craft paint and let the kids stamp all over the paper.
    I like to use real satin ribbon (WMrt has cheap ribbon) to tie up the packages with.
    I wrap every body’s presents the same too. It’s easier and looks nice. 🙂

  5. Amy @ Experience Imagination says:

    I tend to buy plainer wrapping paper, rather than season- or holiday-specific paper. That way, I’ll always have something on hand for an unexpected gift.
    Tissue paper is my friend! You can wrap the inside, outside, crush it to fill up a box, and even layer the patterned ones.

  6. Gego says:

    The comics from the Sunday paper may be my Christmas paper of choice this year. Think I will tie a cute bow, hand make a card, and watch the GRANDS tear it apart quickly with no appreciation of the energy, time,or effort made.
    Personally, I LOVE wonderfully decorated packages like Grandchildren and their parents hand prints on a grocery paper bag with a hand written note.
    Sorry Mom’s this is kinda messy.

  7. lynn@queenofthecastlerecipes says:

    I love the tulle. Great idea.
    I’ve also discovered the joys of wrapping small gifts in tissue paper. It’s super cheap, very forgiving for even the most bumbling of wrappers :), and if you buy it in white, looks beautiful with any color ribbon. Last night I pulled out my “star” stickers (you know, those old fashioned ones you had to lick?) and stuck those all over my white tissue-wrapped gifts. Covered them with clear packing tape so they’d stay on. The packages looked like they were straight out of winter wonderland 🙂

  8. karen says:

    Here’s a great tip. Save old Christmas cards from the prior year – esp. those at the office if your office just dumps them in January. Of course, keep sentimental ones. But the others – cut the card down the fold and keep the decorative front. Now wrap a gift – solid colors work well. Wrap around once with a wide ribbon, then tape or hot glue the card front on top of the ribbon. It is smashing. Also, if you travel with the gifts, they will stack well – no bows to smash. When I wrap gifts this way, it’s always complimented. You can also make small sprays of greenery and such from nature for free bows.

  9. marina berryman says:

    I am terrible at wrapping. My husband is the happy, wrapping elf in our house. This year I went to Hobby Lobby and bought 2 coordinating rolls of paper, thinking it would inspire me to wrap gifts tastefully and artfully arrange them under the tree. Then I got my sons’ Christmas list. Gift cards. Cash. A movie. Not too many things that need wrapping. I guess I can wrap gift cards in various-sized boxes just to practice wrapping and so that I can tie bows made of tulle on them!

  10. Abbey says:

    I love, love, love, love the paper cutter to cut wrapping paper. I bought it last Christmas and my love for this item is still going strong one year later.
    I also like to use double-sided tape, so that no tape shows on the wrapped gifts. Very perfectionist, but it makes me happy. I should email 3M everyday until they make refills for my big tape dispenser in double-sided variety.
    I also buy some of those very small folded cards for gifts, because sometimes you need to write a little something about the gift, or where it’s from, and those gift labels don’t give enough space.
    I can’t wait to try the tulle idea… thanks so much!

  11. AprilMay says:

    “…watch the GRANDS tear it apart quickly with no appreciation of the energy, time, or effort made.”
    Sheesh Gego! Maybe they are just excited about Christmas? 😉
    The BEST value at the Dollar Store are the gift bags, hands down! You can’t beat $1 for a gorgeous gift bag! Especially for those hard-to-wrap action figures they place in those clear, impenetrable plastic bubbles.

  12. jen TuTu's Bliss says:

    Thanks!! You can get 25 yards of tulle in 3inch wide ribbon spools under 2$ at AND they have a slew of boxes, papers etc. (and some of it is eco friendly). We just do cute boxes tied with ribbon at our house. I know, I’m such a wrapping Scrooge

  13. Lainie@ Mishmash Maggie says:

    I never thought about tulle as ribbon replacement. Thank you for that!
    Not that I am recommending this but last year my hubby made us all crack up because instead of gift boxes, he used food boxes (cereal, frozen entree, etc…) and wrapped them in gift paper.
    It was the funniest thing!
    There were nice presents inside but the packaging was our favorite part. It was his way for bulking up gift cards/iTunes cards, etc…

  14. se7en says:

    Happy Wednesday to you all, I popped in a post full of ideas for a kids Christmas craft party… Myself I am all for the marathon gift wrap, and if I can get it organized for a wednesday night when my mother in law comes for dinner – all the better! Otherwise I forget what’s in them and just can’t keep track… gotta hang on to that sanity at this time of year!

  15. The Happy Housewife says:

    I love tulle for wrapping. I just wrote a post on frugal gift wrap a few days back. This year I am trying to use all recycled material. Brown paper bags are my first choice. I did buy some ribbon, the packages look cute and they wrap will hold up better in shipment.

  16. Denise says:

    We have a local charity that wraps gifts every year for a donation. I take all the BIG hard to wrap stuff to them. It never costs me more than about $25 to get EVERYTHING wrapped & the money goes to charity!

  17. Christa says:

    I love pretty presents under the tree! 🙂 My favorite wrapping paper is at Hobby Lobby – they have guidelines on the inside of the paper so I can cut a straight line! the rolls are 1/2 off right now! I like all of the presents under the tree to match – so that when we bring them to the big family gathering to unwrap everyone knows which ones are from us!

  18. Sheila Gregoire says:

    I love gift wrapping! I love making them pretty, and I keep all the ribbons and bows that I get all year to reuse. Does that make me petty?
    But one of the best wrapping papers for kids is the comic section of the newspaper. You can save them up and use them, and they’re free, colourful, and look great with ribbon!
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  19. Kara says:

    Thanks for all the great information…We have always gotten the “sharpie” out and just written names on our gifts. Maybe this year I’ll step it up a bit 🙂 LOL!

  20. jen says:

    Great ideas – thanks!
    I know it’s a little crazy, but I buy my Christmas wrapping paper when it’s on sale for 90% off after Christmas, put it inside a big garbage bag and store it with the Christmas stuff. It doesn’t take up much room, and I don’t spend much!

  21. Megan (FriedOkra) says:

    I wrapped gifts for a local dept store during and after college too. I really miss those nice columns of roll after roll of long, shiny, crisp paper and the perfectly aligned cylinders of ribbon, all neatly organized and so easy to just tear off and use – it all really appealed to my OCD side, you know? The home gift-wrapping experience just can’t live up to that kind of gift-wrapping nirvana. Last year I tried to fashion my own nice neat roll display with my mop and broom handles held up by two bar stools, but the whole experiment wound up with in a wad of crumpled, unusable paper and a general feeling that well, sigh, you can never really go back, sigh. But these are all great tips and yes ma’am, tulle’s the be-all, end-all of present garnishery, in my book!

  22. Traci says:

    I use pink (daughter) and blue (son) to wrap the stocking gifts. That way I don’t have to label them and I know who gets what. LOVE the tulle…super cute!

  23. Rona says:

    I love utilizing our Christmas bags year after year. I also use packing wrapping paper. We can write on the paper or rubberstamp it, etc. It’s fun.

  24. Melanie says:

    I find the best deals to be after-Christmas shopping. I like the papers that Target sells – quality paper, and you can get rolls for as little as 19 cents after Christmas.

  25. Rachel Joy says:

    I’m a stamper, so I tend to buy the plain one-color wrapping paper and then stamp flourishes on it. Turns out very pretty, but it’s a lot of work. I do that more for the gifts for my folks, and for the kids I make sure to use LOTS of tape!! I’m an evil auntie! 🙂

  26. Tara says:

    Two ideas. One, I bought one of those tall rubbermaid gift wrap centers. It has a small box type thing inside it for the tape, scissors, ribbons, labels, SHARPIE markers etc. Then everything is together.
    Two, I go to walmart the week after Christmas and buy out their solid colored wrapping paper to use all year. Hello, Mrs. Cheapo! Gold, silver, red, green, Christmas when all together, but a great way to cheaply wrap birthday gifts through the year!

  27. Gwyn says:

    I use different paper for each member of the family instead of gift tags. It makes sorting presents so much easier. I also recently learned to wrap with a paper pocket on the front to hold a card!!!

  28. uppervalleymom says:

    I find the best deals for wrapping paper…FREE…when I shop in my closet for rolls that I purchased post-Christmas and forgot about! LOL
    For small gifts, I love to recycle kids artwork. We also use this to make our “cards” year round.

  29. Aimee says:

    The Christmas after we got married we had tons of white tulle leftover and used it to dress up very plain wrapping paper. I’d have to say that was our most beautiful stack of gifts ever!

  30. Linda says:

    Thanks for the tulle idea. I have always used cheap bows that get smashed or come of the package. Seeing your picture made me think, “Why don’t I just use tulle or some other ribon?” Thanks so much!

  31. Donnetta says:

    Beautifully wrapped gifts is not my area of expertise! Thanks for these tips!
    I also wrap everything at once instead of a bit at a time. It just works better for me.
    Last year at our youth auction a lady donated Christmas gift wrapping for all your gifts. I did not win this item, but if I had, that would have been my gift wrapping tip! 🙂 It would have been one year of beautifully wrapped packages.
    Instead, I will once again do perform my humble wrapping and know that it is the thought that counts…

  32. Kara says:

    I love your wrapping ideas…and I love tulle. You should see the amazing things my mom did with it when she decorated my Little One’s Ballerina nursery:)

  33. Sarah says:

    I’ve found that you don’t get a very good deal on wrapping paper at the dollar store (but they’re great for stocking stuffers, cheap baskets for gifts, etc.). My favorite place to get good quality wrapping paper is Sam’s Club. We got a very very large roll for $10. It will last us several years. The stuff I got from Walmart a year or two ago was horrible! The corners on boxes kept breaking through the paper!

  34. Holly @faceforgrace says:

    Don’t know if you’ve checked out the wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby or not- but I bought some this year for the first time and I LOVE IT! It’s $6.99 per roll, but is half off for most of the Christmas season. The quality is excellent (nice and thick) and the roll size is 100 sq ft. I also love that all of the rolls that I bought have the cutting grid/cheat lines printed on the back. Makes cutting a breeze. I just thought I’d share…

  35. Lisa Q says:

    I was just wrapping some presents…I do them in spits and spurts. I buy 3 coordinating papers and lots of real ribbon (not the plastic stuff) and it makes it so easy)

  36. Kori says:

    Just a quick note on the tulle… you can actually get it already cut into 6 in. strips on a roll at craft stores in the bridal dept. or if you have a Flower Factory near it is really cheap there and they have tons of colors.

  37. Stefani says:

    Instead of using one paper for a more unified look, I use a different paper for each member of the family. (you can even coordinate them if you want) It helps the little ones who can’t read yet to know who each gift belongs to. (my daughter absolutely loves to hand out the presents!)

  38. Shawna says:

    I have 2 kids, and learned early on that I hated writing out gift tags from Santa (though I LOVE your idea of address labels). Anyway, I wrap all of my daughter’s Santa gifts in girly paper, and all of my son’s Santa gifts in boyish paper, and then I cut out a square of each. I tape the squares to the note from Santa, and then the kids know who’s gifts are whose!

  39. Kris M. says:

    I love to wrap gifts, and love to use neat wrapping paper. For Christmas paper…I go shopping the weekend after Christmas to buy discounted paper, ribbons, bows, etc. That way I’m stocked up for the following year and didn’t pay full price. Last year we were between houses, so not having to worry about a house payment kinda made me go a little crazy. I think I’m stocked up on Christmas wrapping paper and boys and ribbon for about 5 years. haha!

  40. Michelle says:

    My first grade son and I loved wrapping gifts together last year. He wrote out all the tags…it was great handwriting practice, and it was fun to see how he decided to spell things! (Unkl Scad was Uncle Scott)

  41. Ginger says:

    Love the ideas, esp. the tulle for the bow challenged… ha! My hubby thought of the whole label thing and I balked at it, wanting color. So silly. Yours look great!
    thx, Ginger

  42. Melissa says:

    I accidentally left last week’s link up when I put my new title in Mr. Linky this morning. It is all fixed, though, so if you want to check out a awesome, fun grammar and punctuation, head to my site!

  43. Diana (Ladybug Limited) says:

    My 2-ingredient fudge will have to wait until next week… Had to use today’s WFMW to spread the word about saving handmade children’s products– lots of us would hate to lose this income in this economy!
    Thanks for the reply back this morning, Shannon.

  44. Melanie says:

    I love wrapping gifts, too. I started wrapping things in similar paper a few years ago. It looks nice under the tree and is easier to find matching ribbon and bows.
    Dollar General brand tape is the very best!

  45. Kansas Mom says:

    I’ve used old Christmas cards for labels (cut them to size and use a hole punch for ribbon), but I like the idea of using them for decoration. I haven’t bought gift wrap in years. I do buy tissue paper and reuse gift bags. Everything else is wrapped with old calendars, magazine pages or newsprint. No one has ever complained!
    Back when I did buy paper, I loved matching gifts. I’d buy two complimentary rolls.
    My mom used to only put numbers on the presents and have us kids wrap them. She didn’t want us trying to guess which presents were for whom and what they were. One year, she lost the key and we were all opening random presents. It was awesome! (Really, it was really fun and a great Christmas memory.) But after that she didn’t use the numbers anymore.

  46. Allison says:

    I love the tulle idea! How great does that look?! And by the way, great name for a blog. I really have found rocks in my dryer before. I guess that’s what I get for having a boy.

  47. Sandwiched says:

    Great ideas. Might have to splurge on the scotch wrapping paper cutter this year! I do marathon wrapping sessions too, but this year I vow NOT to do it Christmas Eve at 10 pm!
    Thinking of scheduling a wrapping party…that way I’ll HAVE to get it done before Christmas. And way more fun!
    Finally, here’s a gift wrapping tip I saw YEARS ago on Oprah: before taping the paper, fold the cut end of the paper under about 1/4″ so that it looks smooth and professional. I don’t ALWAYS do it myself, but I do if the present needs to look good (showers, etc.).
    Thanks for hosting Works for Me Wednesday. LOVE IT!

  48. patois says:

    I love your tips. We’ve gone the route of no more wrapping paper. It’s Sunday comics for all of our gifts. The only problem I have is I still have Santa-believing children. I doubt he gets the San Francisco Chronicle in the North Pole. So I’m going to go the route of the brown shipping paper and decorate the presents.

  49. Condo Blues says:

    I color code the gifts by family. I wrap my side of the family in one type of wrapping paper and my husband’s side of the family in another style of wrapping paper. It makes it much easier to find and take all of the appropriate gifts with us when we go to that family’s house during the holidays.

  50. Becky says:

    My mom has this plastic container with two sections stacked. The bottom is for the wrapping paper (save for next year, keep birthday present paper in there too) and the top is a smaller section for scissors, tape, ribbons, labels, and such. She usually puts the bag of bows in the bottom on top of the rolls.

  51. Angie says:

    My momhad a camping table she uses to wrap gifts on. It is lightweight aluminum and rolls up into a fabric case. Since it rolls up, there are lots of slats of the aluminum, with a little space between each slat. This makes it super easy to cut a staight line, just place your scissors in the space, hold the paper taught, and cut away.

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