You've braved the crowds at Megamart and find yourself fourteen shoppers deep in the checkout line. A quick survey of your cart reveals you've forgotten an essential element to Christmas shopping. The obligatory wrapping paper. Groan.
But we both know you'll need more than wrapping paper to fancy up the box. Tape, ribbon, cards, and other frilly widgets can ratchet your total up as much as $5 per gift. Think those mall gift-wrapping charity gigs are a deal? Tack on up to $6 for each gift. Doing it yourself can inspire a slew of naughty words since gift-wrap paper manufacturers sell nearly translucent paper that tears if you look at cross-eyed.
Trick yourself into accepting that the act of wrapping is an extension of your gift. Putting more care into the presentation may even increase the likability of it. Since you will probably find yourself back at home wondering how to use what you have available to decorate, we've arranged each tip by material.
1. Tissue Paper
Not only can you use it to puff out of gift bags, but take tissue paper to new heights, incorporating it into wrapping as well. Tissue paper works well with odd shaped items and looks fantastic layers on top of plain butcher paper. Wrap white tissue paper around candles or other round objects and encircle with red ribbon for a candy cane effect. Wrap with at least two layers when covering a gift. Buying Tip: Only purchase in bulk from a craft store. Card and party stores will charge up to three times as much for the same amount of paper.
2. Wax Paper
Make your own old-fashioned paper snowflakes and attach to your box. Wrap with wax paper for a peek-a-boo subtle pattern. Be careful when folding the wax paper--each crease makes a mark, so make sure you measure correctly before folding. And wrap with the waxy side facing your gift as tape will only stick to the backside.
3. Scraps of Gift Wrap and Ribbon
You're almost done wrapping. With one present to go, you measure the remainders of your store-bought paper and ribbon only to see that you're short by a few inches. Should you run back to the store to dish out another $5.99 for two feet of paper? Instead, compile all your leftover scraps. Using complimentary colors, cut strips of paper and layer a la wrapping paper parfait. Pieces of ribbon can also be used to make a burst of color on a plain package.
4. Dish Towels
What will you do with the, ahem, tacky Christmas dishcloths your mother-in-law bestowed upon you? Put them to work as holiday wrap! Roll around wine bottles affixed with raffia or use as a bow on top of a box of cookies.
5. Rubber Bands and Ponytail Holders
Need a ribbon but refuse to buy one? Bust out the 90's round ponytail holders and make your own bubble bow. They make great additions on gifts for little girls.
The part of newspaper you use will make a huge difference in the final look of your gift. The funny pages work best for the addition of colorful ribbon, but also pages with uniform text make great backgrounds. Avoid front pages or any section with varying sizes of text. Adorn newspaper wrapped gifts with thicker ribbon or layer with tissue paper.
7. Broken Christmas Decorations
Gather those broken fake fir piece from your tree to craft a creative gift topper. You'll need to affix them together with floral tape or wire and wrap tightly to a ribbon or raffia. Add an old ornament to the middle of your design for a festive feature.
Foil is tricky. You have to use the more expensive, thick kind or you'll be fighting tears at every corner. Fold as little as possible to avoid the leftover pot roast look and use shiny gift-wrap ribbon to match the look of the foil. Consider embossing the outside of your gift with a soft tip like a chopstick. Check out these tips for making a professional-looking gift-wrap job with foil.
9. Fabric Scraps
Sometimes a bolt of closeout holiday themed fabric is cheaper than gift-wrap paper. Since affixing the fabric with tape isn't an option, gather the fabric around your gift and tie at the top with a bow or ribbon.
Check out the fantastic designs at Wrap Art, Real Simple, and Celebrating Christmas for more gift-wrap inspiration.
*Keep in mind that the more precise you are with cutting paper and folding, the more professional your gift-wrap will appear. Pull all sides taut against the boxes and make folds parallel with each side.