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Gift Wrapping; Made Simple, Fun, and Budget Friendly!

Updated on December 9, 2012

Successful quality wrapping depends on you. If you are like my husband, the first step is to find someone who enjoys and is good at wrapping, and have them do it. (He told me I needed to add that he can wrap, he just doesn't want too.) If you're like me and enjoy crafty things, or you do not have a 'go to' wrapper, I hope my guide can ease your way into the joys of wrapping!

The first step needs to be finding a clear, clean, large, firm area to wrap your gifts. Best is a table. I use my sewing table, which has a handy middle line where it folds that my scissors fit right into for cutting straight lines! You can also use a bed, though you must be VERY careful not to cut your sheets or blankets (guilty as charged here). You can also use the floor, if you want to get down there; and back up!
Next, lay out ALL your wrapping supplies, whether you think you need them or not. This includes tape (extra rolls preferred), sharp scissors, wrapping papers, ribbons, bows, pens, and the gift/gifts.
The biggest mistakes people make when wrapping packages are not using enough paper or tape, or using too much paper! Also remember that folding over your papers edges will give all packages a cleaner look, and a stronger edge so it wont accidentally tear before it's time to open. If you want to do this, be sure to leave 1/2"-1" extra paper on each edge for folding.
Instructions for different types of packages as follows.

Instructions for Standard (rectangle/square) Packages

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Step 1 Line it up straight and tape the first edge.Step 2, Flip the package over.  Measure far enough out to overlap paper by about 1".  Cut carefully in a straight line.  You can cut extra, and fold over at the edge here for a more professional look.  Tape into place.Step 2  Cut side edges so they overlap by 1/2".  Fold edges of paper toward middle and make a firm crease at corners.  You will create triangles on each outer edge. Tape middles.Step 2.1 Fold edges of triangles over and crease firmly, then lay flat and tape into place.After step 2Step 3, optional; to add ribbon, tape front edge of ribbon to back of package, wrap around and bring the rest of the ribbon through behind the tape.  Wrap the other direction, tape end of ribbon, cut your ribbon after you tape it!Add a bow and name tag and your done.  I recommend always tagging your gifts immediately, since sometimes which package is which may get confusing once many are wrapped.
Step 1 Line it up straight and tape the first edge.
Step 1 Line it up straight and tape the first edge.
Step 2, Flip the package over.  Measure far enough out to overlap paper by about 1".  Cut carefully in a straight line.  You can cut extra, and fold over at the edge here for a more professional look.  Tape into place.
Step 2, Flip the package over. Measure far enough out to overlap paper by about 1". Cut carefully in a straight line. You can cut extra, and fold over at the edge here for a more professional look. Tape into place.
Step 2  Cut side edges so they overlap by 1/2".  Fold edges of paper toward middle and make a firm crease at corners.  You will create triangles on each outer edge. Tape middles.
Step 2 Cut side edges so they overlap by 1/2". Fold edges of paper toward middle and make a firm crease at corners. You will create triangles on each outer edge. Tape middles.
Step 2.1 Fold edges of triangles over and crease firmly, then lay flat and tape into place.
Step 2.1 Fold edges of triangles over and crease firmly, then lay flat and tape into place.
After step 2
After step 2
Step 3, optional; to add ribbon, tape front edge of ribbon to back of package, wrap around and bring the rest of the ribbon through behind the tape.  Wrap the other direction, tape end of ribbon, cut your ribbon after you tape it!
Step 3, optional; to add ribbon, tape front edge of ribbon to back of package, wrap around and bring the rest of the ribbon through behind the tape. Wrap the other direction, tape end of ribbon, cut your ribbon after you tape it!
Add a bow and name tag and your done.  I recommend always tagging your gifts immediately, since sometimes which package is which may get confusing once many are wrapped.
Add a bow and name tag and your done. I recommend always tagging your gifts immediately, since sometimes which package is which may get confusing once many are wrapped.

Instructions for Odd Shaped Packages

Click thumbnail to view full-size
For oddly shaped packages; tape first edge, then roll package over so it lays on top of paper.cut paper 1" more then half the thickness of your package, along the second side.  i.e. 2" thick package, you would make your cut 3" away from edge.Fold up second edge and tapeRepeat above steps for second side of package.for each end of package, fold two opposite sides to middle, tape into place. This will make triangles, crease these, then fold the edge of triangle over, then fold triangle down, and tape into place.Add bow and name tag.  I do not recommend putting ribbons on packages like this one, as the ribbon will slide around (unless you use a lot of tape) and possibly rip your paper.
For oddly shaped packages; tape first edge, then roll package over so it lays on top of paper.
For oddly shaped packages; tape first edge, then roll package over so it lays on top of paper.
cut paper 1" more then half the thickness of your package, along the second side.  i.e. 2" thick package, you would make your cut 3" away from edge.
cut paper 1" more then half the thickness of your package, along the second side. i.e. 2" thick package, you would make your cut 3" away from edge.
Fold up second edge and tape
Fold up second edge and tape
Repeat above steps for second side of package.
Repeat above steps for second side of package.
for each end of package, fold two opposite sides to middle, tape into place. This will make triangles, crease these, then fold the edge of triangle over, then fold triangle down, and tape into place.
for each end of package, fold two opposite sides to middle, tape into place. This will make triangles, crease these, then fold the edge of triangle over, then fold triangle down, and tape into place.
Add bow and name tag.  I do not recommend putting ribbons on packages like this one, as the ribbon will slide around (unless you use a lot of tape) and possibly rip your paper.
Add bow and name tag. I do not recommend putting ribbons on packages like this one, as the ribbon will slide around (unless you use a lot of tape) and possibly rip your paper.

Instructions for Round, and Squishy Objects

When dealing with round or squishy objects, such as clothes, pillows, or balls, often the best choice is to put the item in a box. When no box is available, you can wrap them like a piece of candy for a cute look.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Squishy pillow, no box available! Be sure to use a stronger wrapping paper for this,  a thinner one will rip too easily with a squishy package.For this one, I folded the pillow in half.  Be sure you have several inches of extra paper on the sides, and roll the wrapping paper around the item.  Overlap the edges by 1-2", then mark where you want to cut. Remove the item if it is soft, like this pillow, before you cut the paper!  Cut along your marking.  You can fold over the edges of the wrapping paper here.  Then re-roll the item, and tape into place.  You should have the sides folded as pictured here, if not, fold them over now.Gather the sides, simply grab with your hand and squish carefully.  Wrap tape around to hold this in place.Tie ribbons around gathered sides; add a name tag, and your done!
Squishy pillow, no box available! Be sure to use a stronger wrapping paper for this,  a thinner one will rip too easily with a squishy package.
Squishy pillow, no box available! Be sure to use a stronger wrapping paper for this, a thinner one will rip too easily with a squishy package.
For this one, I folded the pillow in half.  Be sure you have several inches of extra paper on the sides, and roll the wrapping paper around the item.  Overlap the edges by 1-2", then mark where you want to cut.
For this one, I folded the pillow in half. Be sure you have several inches of extra paper on the sides, and roll the wrapping paper around the item. Overlap the edges by 1-2", then mark where you want to cut.
Remove the item if it is soft, like this pillow, before you cut the paper!  Cut along your marking.  You can fold over the edges of the wrapping paper here.  Then re-roll the item, and tape into place.
Remove the item if it is soft, like this pillow, before you cut the paper! Cut along your marking. You can fold over the edges of the wrapping paper here. Then re-roll the item, and tape into place.
You should have the sides folded as pictured here, if not, fold them over now.
You should have the sides folded as pictured here, if not, fold them over now.
Gather the sides, simply grab with your hand and squish carefully.  Wrap tape around to hold this in place.
Gather the sides, simply grab with your hand and squish carefully. Wrap tape around to hold this in place.
Tie ribbons around gathered sides; add a name tag, and your done!
Tie ribbons around gathered sides; add a name tag, and your done!

Instructions for Gift Bags

Gift Bags can be a great choice, but how do we get the tissue paper looking neat, and still covering the gift completely?
First, be sure the bag is not too big for your item, your item(s) should fit, with just a little room to spare.
You can make your tissue paper large enough by taping pieces together, or small enough by cutting it down. You want your tissue paper to stick over the top of your bag by 3-6" depending on how big it is. For this, you need paper double the size of your bag (including the bottom side), plus the 3-6".
i.e.If your using a 6" bag, that is 2"x3" on the bottom. This means you want tissue paper at least 20" on each side.
For larger items, you may also want to lay some tissue paper over the top of your gift. Either flat across, or making gathers and filling in once gift is in the bag.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Place 2-3 pieces of tissue paper caddy-corner to each other.  Place gift in center of tissue paper.  For a large object, spread tissue papers out and tape where they over lap.  You want several inches more then double the size of your gift.Using your hands, carefully pull the tissue paper up on each side of gift.  Drop into your bag, fluff the tissue paper, add name tag and or bows, and your done!To gather tissue paper to cover a larger gift.  First put gift into bag, then gather a few pieces of tissue paper as shown, then fill in the open spots in the bag.
Place 2-3 pieces of tissue paper caddy-corner to each other.  Place gift in center of tissue paper.  For a large object, spread tissue papers out and tape where they over lap.  You want several inches more then double the size of your gift.
Place 2-3 pieces of tissue paper caddy-corner to each other. Place gift in center of tissue paper. For a large object, spread tissue papers out and tape where they over lap. You want several inches more then double the size of your gift.
Using your hands, carefully pull the tissue paper up on each side of gift.
Using your hands, carefully pull the tissue paper up on each side of gift.
Drop into your bag, fluff the tissue paper, add name tag and or bows, and your done!
Drop into your bag, fluff the tissue paper, add name tag and or bows, and your done!
To gather tissue paper to cover a larger gift.  First put gift into bag, then gather a few pieces of tissue paper as shown, then fill in the open spots in the bag.
To gather tissue paper to cover a larger gift. First put gift into bag, then gather a few pieces of tissue paper as shown, then fill in the open spots in the bag.

Flat packages, such as Books or DVD's

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lay your gift on top of the wrapping paper as shown.  Be sure you have enough to the top and bottom to wrap it and over-lap about 1"Measure out from both sides of item about 3" and cut your paper.Tape bottom edge of paper to item. (If book or other object you do not want tape on, simply hold paper in place)  Bring paper down from the top of package and tape into place.  You will want tape on each side where the paper meets, and the middle.With package up side down, cut a triangle through back side of wrapping paper.  You can place tape at top of triangle to hold paper in place.Fold the front edge over to make a straight line, then fold corners in.  Crease firmly.Fold the front edge around to back of package and tape into place.Add name tag, bows, ribbons, and your done!
Lay your gift on top of the wrapping paper as shown.  Be sure you have enough to the top and bottom to wrap it and over-lap about 1"
Lay your gift on top of the wrapping paper as shown. Be sure you have enough to the top and bottom to wrap it and over-lap about 1"
Measure out from both sides of item about 3" and cut your paper.
Measure out from both sides of item about 3" and cut your paper.
Tape bottom edge of paper to item. (If book or other object you do not want tape on, simply hold paper in place)  Bring paper down from the top of package and tape into place.  You will want tape on each side where the paper meets, and the middle.
Tape bottom edge of paper to item. (If book or other object you do not want tape on, simply hold paper in place) Bring paper down from the top of package and tape into place. You will want tape on each side where the paper meets, and the middle.
With package up side down, cut a triangle through back side of wrapping paper.  You can place tape at top of triangle to hold paper in place.
With package up side down, cut a triangle through back side of wrapping paper. You can place tape at top of triangle to hold paper in place.
Fold the front edge over to make a straight line, then fold corners in.  Crease firmly.
Fold the front edge over to make a straight line, then fold corners in. Crease firmly.
Fold the front edge around to back of package and tape into place.
Fold the front edge around to back of package and tape into place.
Add name tag, bows, ribbons, and your done!
Add name tag, bows, ribbons, and your done!

Instructions for Cylinders, also works for bottles, and tall rectangles.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
There are two ways to wrap a cylinder.  These styles will also work for a tall rectangle, and the style shown with orange paper will work great for bottles.Style 1 (pink paper).  Cut your paper length wise with enough room on both top and bottom to over lap by at least 1/2"Making sure your item is straight in the paper, roll the paper over, and mark where the paper meets, plus 1".  Then cut along mark, fold edge over slightly with firm crease then tape into place.On top and bottom of package.  Gently squish the ends toward the middle all the way around the package.Add tape to last fold to hold in place.Add a bow, or streamers of curling ribbon to the top, and a name tag and your done!Style 2 (Orange Paper) You need to measure the height and width (at widest point) of your item.  Double both height and width, add this together plus a few inches, and cut your paper to that size.  You can cut a square, or a circleThis is cut as a square, directions are the same for circles.  You can fold the edges of the square shape for a cleaner look.  Take the middle of each side, and bring straight up to center.  Note I did not pull up from the corners.Gather all to center, and tape around the gather.Tie a ribbon, or several strands of curling ribbon around the taped part, add a name tag, and your done!
There are two ways to wrap a cylinder.  These styles will also work for a tall rectangle, and the style shown with orange paper will work great for bottles.
There are two ways to wrap a cylinder. These styles will also work for a tall rectangle, and the style shown with orange paper will work great for bottles.
Style 1 (pink paper).  Cut your paper length wise with enough room on both top and bottom to over lap by at least 1/2"
Style 1 (pink paper). Cut your paper length wise with enough room on both top and bottom to over lap by at least 1/2"
Making sure your item is straight in the paper, roll the paper over, and mark where the paper meets, plus 1".  Then cut along mark, fold edge over slightly with firm crease then tape into place.
Making sure your item is straight in the paper, roll the paper over, and mark where the paper meets, plus 1". Then cut along mark, fold edge over slightly with firm crease then tape into place.
On top and bottom of package.  Gently squish the ends toward the middle all the way around the package.
On top and bottom of package. Gently squish the ends toward the middle all the way around the package.
Add tape to last fold to hold in place.
Add tape to last fold to hold in place.
Add a bow, or streamers of curling ribbon to the top, and a name tag and your done!
Add a bow, or streamers of curling ribbon to the top, and a name tag and your done!
Style 2 (Orange Paper) You need to measure the height and width (at widest point) of your item.  Double both height and width, add this together plus a few inches, and cut your paper to that size.  You can cut a square, or a circle
Style 2 (Orange Paper) You need to measure the height and width (at widest point) of your item. Double both height and width, add this together plus a few inches, and cut your paper to that size. You can cut a square, or a circle
This is cut as a square, directions are the same for circles.  You can fold the edges of the square shape for a cleaner look.  Take the middle of each side, and bring straight up to center.  Note I did not pull up from the corners.
This is cut as a square, directions are the same for circles. You can fold the edges of the square shape for a cleaner look. Take the middle of each side, and bring straight up to center. Note I did not pull up from the corners.
Gather all to center, and tape around the gather.
Gather all to center, and tape around the gather.
Tie a ribbon, or several strands of curling ribbon around the taped part, add a name tag, and your done!
Tie a ribbon, or several strands of curling ribbon around the taped part, add a name tag, and your done!

Budget Friendly Ribbon and Name Tag Ideas

Click thumbnail to view full-size
No need to buy name tags at the store.  Use the left over scraps of wrapping paper to make your own matching ones!  Cut out a rectangle from the scrap.  Size depends on size of your package.Fold one edge over, then cut the corners.Write in your to and from; place tape on the back side of the smaller edge, and stick to package!I use curling ribbons around my packages, but your always left with a few yards worth that has paper stuck to it from the packaging!  Cut out the messed up areas, curl the pieces and place under a bow for a great look!Finished with scraps of curling ribbon.Damaged Bows? Don't throw them away, re-purpose them!  First, remove the ribbon from the staples.cut slits in the edges of the ribbon, and pull apart to make many strings. Fold a piece of tape into a loop, so it has two sticky sides.  Curl the strings, and lay across the top of the tape.Place on package.  Optional, add a plain bow to center of ribbon pile!Wrap your ribbons around your package, then tie some pieces of curling ribbon to where the ribbons cross!
No need to buy name tags at the store.  Use the left over scraps of wrapping paper to make your own matching ones!  Cut out a rectangle from the scrap.  Size depends on size of your package.
No need to buy name tags at the store. Use the left over scraps of wrapping paper to make your own matching ones! Cut out a rectangle from the scrap. Size depends on size of your package.
Fold one edge over, then cut the corners.
Fold one edge over, then cut the corners.
Write in your to and from; place tape on the back side of the smaller edge, and stick to package!
Write in your to and from; place tape on the back side of the smaller edge, and stick to package!
I use curling ribbons around my packages, but your always left with a few yards worth that has paper stuck to it from the packaging!  Cut out the messed up areas, curl the pieces and place under a bow for a great look!
I use curling ribbons around my packages, but your always left with a few yards worth that has paper stuck to it from the packaging! Cut out the messed up areas, curl the pieces and place under a bow for a great look!
Finished with scraps of curling ribbon.
Finished with scraps of curling ribbon.
Damaged Bows? Don't throw them away, re-purpose them!  First, remove the ribbon from the staples.
Damaged Bows? Don't throw them away, re-purpose them! First, remove the ribbon from the staples.
cut slits in the edges of the ribbon, and pull apart to make many strings.
cut slits in the edges of the ribbon, and pull apart to make many strings.
Fold a piece of tape into a loop, so it has two sticky sides.  Curl the strings, and lay across the top of the tape.
Fold a piece of tape into a loop, so it has two sticky sides. Curl the strings, and lay across the top of the tape.
Place on package.  Optional, add a plain bow to center of ribbon pile!
Place on package. Optional, add a plain bow to center of ribbon pile!
Wrap your ribbons around your package, then tie some pieces of curling ribbon to where the ribbons cross!
Wrap your ribbons around your package, then tie some pieces of curling ribbon to where the ribbons cross!

More Budget Saving Ideas

Gift bags, ribbons, paper, all these add up and can get expensive. Here are some simple things you can do to cut down your costs.

  • Save Your Ribbons and Bows. Ribbons and bows are the easiest things to save and re-use. Ribbons can be cut up and made into bows, and a little tape on the sticky pad of a used bow will make it good as new!
  • Save your gift bags. Just be careful you don't re-use it for the person who gave the bag to you!
  • Make your own bows. You can buy bulk ribbons, and make them into pretty bows! I like the instructions here http://www.100layercake.com/blog/2011/12/06/how-to-make-a-gift-bow/ You can also cut strips of wrapping paper and follow the same instructions for a coordinated bow!
  • Save your boxes and packages and newspapers! I try to keep a small selection (large during the holiday season) of small-medium sized boxes around for putting gifts in. Often this can turn a gift that would be a nightmare to wrap, into a pleasant dream! Plus, I always put fragile items in boxes with cushioning. You never know if a child, your own or someone else (or even an adult at times) is going to go present shaking! Stuffing from an old (but washed) pillow, or newspaper scraps are great for cushioning objects!

Some people like to try to save wrapping paper and re-use it. I draw the line here myself, especially since my kids tear wrapping to pieces, and well, so do I. Tearing the paper is half the fun of getting a gift!

If I have missed any shapes, or you have a question about steps in this guide, please feel free to comment and I will get back to you ASAP. Thank you for reading, and I hope this is helpful to you!

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    • profile image

      Mellowsong 4 years ago

      Good information here. Thanks.

    • Val Swabb profile image
      Author

      Val Swabb 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks Mellow!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      very useful tips. I really need this hub. Got problem with gift wrapping. Nicely wrap gifts you have done. great hub.

    • NCBIer profile image

      NCBIer 4 years ago

      Timely hub! I too have a wrapping issue and appreciate the hub. Very useful, thank you.

    • Val Swabb profile image
      Author

      Val Swabb 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Thank you peachpurple and NCBIer!! Glad to be a help!

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