Eight Ways to Wrap a Gift

One of them you probably already know, but the rest are pretty darn clever.

The holidays are here. Let us link hands with loved ones, join our voices in song and laughter, and share in the warmth and glow of PRESENTSPRESENTSPRESENTS!!! Oh, what? I mean the spirit of the season.

All kidding aside, even though the holidays should not be about materialism and consumption and the gimme-gimmes, it is entirely likely that you’re going to want to give someone a gift of some sort during the holidays. In which case, you might also want to wrap it.

For some reason, in my family, I am always assigned the job of present-wrapper. Every year, all the presents except for mine are placed in my parents’ bedroom, where they wait for me to turn them into gaily wrapped packages.

This makes no sense. I have been known to throw a blanket over an oddly shaped gift, pull it off, and go “ta-da!” Once, I accidentally wrapped an empty box (I took my sister’s sweater out to try it on and forgot to put it back). Still, traditions die hard in the Burton household, and I am the designated wrapper, and over time, two things have happened: (1) I have become fairly adept at a basic wrapping job; (2) where once I believed that a present well wrapped in gift paper was the ultimate goal, I now understand that wrapping paper is only the beginning.

So I’m going to show you how to do the standard box-wrap, and then we’re going to talk about some other, more creative ideas, because not only is that original and fun and awesome, but also, sometimes there isn’t any tape in the house.

The Basic Box

1. Arrange the item(s) in the box (tissue paper is optional), and then tape the box shut so it can’t easily open during this process.

2. Unroll more wrapping paper than you think you’ll need. (You’ll get good at eyeballing the right amount with practice.) Don’t cut the paper yet. Flip the box upside down and set it in the middle of the paper, next to the roll.

3. Take the free end of the paper and bring it halfway up over the box. Tape the edge to the box. Then take the rolled end of the paper and bring it over the box, pinching the part where it overlaps slightly with the taped edge so that you will know where to cut. If you see that you have a lot of excess paper at the other ends, you may want to un-tape that edge for a moment, and cut the paper width- and lengthwise, making sure that you leave several inches of paper for folding each side.

4. After you’ve cut the paper (and re-taped the first edge if needed), tape the other edge down.

5. Pick a side and push the top of the paper down to flatten it. This will create two little flaps, as if the present were saying “hug me.”

6. Fold each of those flaps, one at a time. Tape ’em if they won’t stay put. This usually results in a triangle shape.

7. Fold the triangle up, and voila! A recognizable side of a wrapped present. Tape the end of the triangle to the paper, and repeat these steps for the other side.

8. Flip the present over and admire your work! Add fanciness, like bows or ribbon or gift tags.

Wrapping is a real art. When I lived in Taiwan, it counted as half the present, and Japan is also really ahead of the game in this department. But don’t despair if you hate wrapping or it looks terrible or you’re out of supplies. There’s loads of different ways to wrap presents.

The Silk Scarf

Keep an eye out for scarves at thrift stores year-round—some are like 90 cents, which is cheaper than wrapping paper. I keep a bunch of scarves in a bag so I can wrap presents in a hurry. And since the recipient can wear the scarf after they open the gift, not only is this more environmentally responsible than using store-bought paper, it’s really like you gave two presents. Aren’t you generous?!

Tin Foil

No, you didn’t run out of wrapping paper! It’s futuristic.

The Impossible-to-Open Present

Did you know duct tape comes in lots of great colors? This is extra fun if you’re wrapping for a younger child, because it’s hilarious to watch them try to open it.

Mummy Wrap

Toilet paper just so happens to be fresh and crisp-looking, like the driven snow. Take that, Hallmark!

The Festive Sock Surprise

These are basically like mini-stockings, and good for multiple small items. ADORABLE.

Candy Wrap

This is also good for small gifts or actual candy. It’s just a toilet-paper roll with twisted wrapping paper. Toilet paper serves many purposes, folks.

The Hollow Book

This is one of my favorites, and my fellow Rookie Gabby mentioned it in her thrifting gift guide. Pick a cool-looking or hilariously titled hardback book, and then go nuts. I like to choose books that I know my friends would never read to help them remember which book is their special hollow gift. This can count as the gift itself, or you can fill it with knickknacks.

Balloon Wrap

Hand the recipient a pin. This one’s great for getting attention at a party, and it was inspired by a classic burlesque act, which is something you should definitely tell any fuddy-duddies in the room.

Guys, you can really wrap a present with anything—it’s all about presentation! Put little things into baby food jars, cut up an egg crate, use the cute plastic bubbles you get from vending machines. Wind ribbon around big things that won’t fit into boxes, use tissue paper or newspaper or fashion magazines for wrapping paper, tuck gift items into clean take-out containers from the grocery store. There are really no limits here, except your imagination! ♦


  • lydiajamesxxx December 18th, 2012 7:10 PM

    achh Rookie, you know I should be studying right now…

    These are all suchhhh great ideas! Can’t wait to try them out :)


  • myl5597 December 18th, 2012 7:11 PM

    Great ideas! I was puzzling over how to wrap my secret santa gift and now I have a ton of ideas!

  • DreamBoat December 18th, 2012 7:16 PM

    THIS IS SO AWESOME AND HAS GIVEN ME SO MANY NEW IDEAS! I’m totally doing the hollow book for my brother, so this was ~PERFECT~

  • HollinsCollins December 18th, 2012 7:27 PM

    Ah! Perf!
    I just got my little sister her present (a journal), and then realized we were out of wrapping paper.
    I’m thinking about using the toilet paper..meheheheheheheheheheh.

  • Tambourelle December 18th, 2012 7:28 PM

    I absolutely love the hollow book idea, the sock idea and the balloon idea!

    I did the tape idea to my 5-year-old cousin last year. It was very amusing ;)

  • Kathryn December 18th, 2012 7:28 PM


  • La Fille December 18th, 2012 8:32 PM

    This is great! Now I can wrap things in awesome ways. :)

  • Maya Chimera December 18th, 2012 8:35 PM

    I usually wrap gifts in old newspapers or pretty magazine spreads. It’s free, it looks alright and you’re recycling paper!


  • jenaimarley December 18th, 2012 8:57 PM

    Oh my holly and ivy, this is absolutely stellar!
    I just wrapped some gifts I made in comics, magazine cut-outs and an old “Democracy Now!” shirt that were all taking up space.

  • justsomeone December 18th, 2012 9:05 PM

    Congrats on the Hollow Book idea! Clever and hilarious. <3

  • dharma94ara December 18th, 2012 9:16 PM

    OK, not only are some of these ideas hilarious but they’re pretty darn creative. I think wrapping presents take a great amount of skill (and patience). The package definately builds anticipation and shows the amount of effort the person put on thinking about your gifts.

  • mynamedanielle December 18th, 2012 9:21 PM

    Oh my gosh bless this article, I’ve been looking for cooler ways to wrap my family’s presents (:

  • Jessica W December 18th, 2012 9:39 PM

    omg the duct tape wrapping idea is PURE GENIUS

    The Lovelorn

    • paige.xo December 19th, 2012 12:16 AM

      My uncle used to do that every year when i was growing up. Its IMPOSSIBLE to get into.

  • violetrainbow December 18th, 2012 9:50 PM

    The Balloon Wrap it’s so cool definitely i’m going to use it , and the mummy one too.

  • Ana December 18th, 2012 10:25 PM

    This looks like a ton of fun wrapping and also opening the gifts! Great ideas :)

  • zhajean December 18th, 2012 10:25 PM

    i love all the ideas! now i’m excited to do gift-wrapping :)


  • FiveDimesForNineLives December 18th, 2012 11:31 PM

    The Duct Table one is killing me! Oh my gosh I want to do that so bad. That struggle would make quite a hilarious video. Definitely going in the book. Who came up with such a genius idea?

  • zombiesockmonkey December 19th, 2012 12:10 AM

    the toilet paper one (as well as the others to try for the future) are going to be awesome for my overly creative wrapper dad and brother :) might even combine the toilet paper and duct tape

  • Pearl December 19th, 2012 2:40 AM

    Wish this article came in a little earlier because I literally rolled wrapping paper over a birthday gift for my BFF. Nevertheless, THANK YOU FOR THIS!!

  • streaked lights December 19th, 2012 5:59 AM

    Ahahah these are brilliant! I especially LOVE the silk scarf one and the balloon one.
    For my birthday, one of my friends printed out pages of a fanfic, and wrapped the present with it.

  • A Fox In The Snow December 19th, 2012 8:53 AM

    I love this! It’s also my friend’s birthday soon, so thanks a lot for the inspiration :)

  • SewHappy December 19th, 2012 12:26 PM

    ”To: Grandma
    Love: Your favourite grandchild”


    The tin foil reminds me of the Gavin and Stacey (british comedy for those who haven’t seen it) episode where the character Smithy wraps all his Christmas presents in tin foil!

  • Martinapovolo December 19th, 2012 6:23 PM

    the one that shows you how to wrap with regular wrapping paper was a bit painful to look at tbh

  • Harley December 20th, 2012 12:02 AM

    I’m loving the socks and the hollow book!

  • sineadmarguerite December 20th, 2012 7:07 AM

    This is so great!!! :)

  • Mary the freak December 20th, 2012 2:05 PM

    I wish I could put a present into a balloon… anyways, tomorrow is the last day of school and I bought my best friend’s present today and I will wrap it all those ways together! Thank you, this is awesome!

  • catpower44 December 20th, 2012 6:26 PM

    Haha! I love this! For secret santa, the girl who had me wrapped nail polish and an itunes card in tape, string, more tape, wrapping paper, more tape, string and then put paper all around it. It took me 5 minutes to open, which dissapointed her, but it was still really fun to open!

  • simplebutchic December 20th, 2012 11:43 PM

    I started cracking up when I saw the mummy wrap :)

  • Betsy January 5th, 2013 4:34 AM

    where i work we have to do free christmas wrapping! i should have wrapped the stuff in toilet paper instead of the normal paper which is very boring! :)

  • Mignon January 26th, 2013 2:11 PM

    Loved the ideas, I’ll be incorporating them.
    A couple I do that you didn’t mention is when I go on vacation I grab those tourist maps (and when I’m done with them I throw them in the bottom of my suitcase) then I wrap my gifts in them. Sometimes I can pinpoint exactly on the map where I got their gift…often people are more fascinated with the map than the gift. Of course now with downloading the maps to my Iphone this is getting less useful but still I sometimes grab a local newspaper instead.
    Of course there is always brown paper that a small kid has coloured and put stickers on it.

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica May 9th, 2013 1:20 PM

    GENIUS!!!!!!!!!! I love the toilet paper one haha! They’re all great :D