By Louise Whiteside 

          “Oh, it’s too pretty to open!”  How often have you heard this sentiment of excitement and delight from a gift recipient? Personally, I must confess, not too often! For the most part, most of my gift wrapping has been rather commonplace:

the usual square of tissue or Christmas wrap, a pre-made bow, a tiny cardboard tag with a run-of-the-mill greeting, or maybe a paper gift bag with a wad of tissue paper. In other words, not much of an attention-grabber! 

          But craving a little adventure, I’ve recently found myself browsing through gift wrapping books and magazine illustrations, and to my great amazement, there are infinite possibilities for creating novel and elegant gift packages. 

          Think about it. Which do you think would be more fun: reaching through a mass of tissue paper and pulling a gift out of a bag, or opening a beautifully wrapped package with decorations that reflected your personality? Sure, the gift would be meaningful in any case, but which of the two would be more likely to send the message that the giver had gone to a little extra trouble just for you? 

          Let me share with you a few ideas — none very complicated or timeconsuming — that might give your gift wrapping a little more pizzazz. That might even earn you the “too pretty to open” remark from a loved one. 

          THE WRAP.  Browse in flea markets or yard sales for vintage newsprint.  Save or purchase scraps of interesting wallpaper.  If you’re artistic, draw or paint seasonal designs on plain paper. Cut colorful pages out of magazines for wrapping small gifts. Wrap a child’s gift in the Sunday comics or a colorful road map. Instead of buying the traditional red or green holiday wrap, spring for softer, more subtle shades, such as creams, delicate pinks and pale lilacs. Colored construction paper can be used artistically for a gift to a child or a teacher gift. Look through your fabric store for remnants of luscious satins, velvets, laces, linens and tulles.

          THE RIBBON.  Ribbons come in a multitude of textures and designs. Stroll through fabric stores, where you will find ribbons made of satin, grosgrain, velvet, taffeta and metallic fiber. Tulle (a netlike fabric) comes in precut rolls and is perfect for fashioning frilly bows. 

          EMBELLISHMENTS.  Take a look in your sewing box for fancy buttons, in your jewelry box for strands of beads or pearls, or for stray earrings, in your Christmas collection for tiny ornaments and snowflakes. Be on the lookout for embellishments at yard sales, the dollar store or the cake decorating aisle of your grocery store. Scan the scrapbooking department at your local craft store. Children love candy canes and tiny toys on the tops of their gifts. Think of creative ways to personalize your gift packages by adorning them with cookie cutters for the baking buff, fishing lures for your favorite fisherman, paint brushes for the family artist, and crayons and scissors for your creative grandchild.  Dried flowers and sprigs of fresh holly, evergreen and poinsettias always make lovely embellishments.

           OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY PACKAGING.  Dig out an old lunch box and create a whimsical container for homemade cookies. A Mason jar decked out in stars and ribbons is perfect for showing off homemade candies. See if you can locate a single blue-and-white delft plate at a thrift store. Fill it with your favorite baked goodies and wrap it in blue cellophane.  Topped with a gold bow, this makes a handsome hostess gift.

          It’s so easy, inexpensive and just plain fun to do creative gift wrapping. Once those creative juices begin flowing, you may decide never to go back to the old gift bag-and mass-produced bow again.  


Fritsch, Christine, Gifted Wrapping, Quarry Books, Gloucester, Mass., Quarry Books (2006) 

Meisner, Kimberly, Victoria, 500 Christmas Ideas: Celebrate the Season in Splendor, Hearst Books, New York, London (2009) 

Playford, Jennifer,  Wrapagami: The Art of Fabric Gift Wraps, Quirk Packaging, Inc., New York (2009)




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