How to wrap presents creatively,
using fragments of paper and
miscellaneous items from around your house


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All you need are pieces of paper, tape, glue sticks, hot glue or double sided tape, and these three ideas.


Absorb these 3 ideas


You can use small fragments of paper.

You can use odd, non-wrapping materials, such as twigs, bottle caps or even colorful breakfast foods.


Focus on the front of the package.

The back of the package is backstage; it's ok to let it be messy.


Contrast of color.

Contrast of light and dark.

Contrast of texture or material.

Contrast of line (angled paper on rectangular boxes).


wrap art book

40 pages, 7"x7", full color, hardcover or paperback.


Gallery Ten


Varied Materials

I started with a Chinese newspaper I picked up while getting take-out the night before. Then I added a band of image paper from a software flyer. Next I made a ribbon of folded gold-foil paper.

This was a baby present, so I added two items that might persist in his room: a toy dinosaur, and a personalized twig. I glue them on, lightly, with a red square placed diamond-wise to feature the green dinosaur.

Contrast: diverse materials. Flat/dimensional. Newsprint/glossy print/foil paper. Natural wood/ cast plastic.

Easy: The paper wrap is easy. But making the twig and selecting the toy can slow one down.

Bag Handle Bow

With with Hanging Label

Some wraps are done for entertainment value. I wrapped this one in a pale blue shopping-bag paper. After I put on the shiny ribbon, I had the idea of using the bags twisted-paper handles as a bower to hold the label.

Contrast: Flat/ dimensional.

Easy: Few pieces.

Tissue Burrito

Gold Trim

Roll it up in tissue. Cut the ends with scissors to create a fringe. Gold frilly ribbon brightens up and complete the wrap.

Easy: Tissue is quick.

Contrast: light/dark. dull wrinkles/bright gold.

White Wrap, Traditional Style

Emphasis on Ribbons

The two ribbons are hand-made. The red is the mettalic shopping bag that has served me so well. The pink is folded tissue. The bow is a recycled commercial bow.

Contrast: two different ribbons crossing. Color/white.

Easy: Few pieces.

Ribbon Weave

Delight by innovation

Use two long ribbons. Tape them to start. Weave. Tape to finish.

Contrast: Simple white base/complex ribbon. Red/green.

Easy: Yes, if you pay attention.

Two-piece Wrap

Crumple Bow

Classic wrap art. Two little pieces of recycled wrapping paper cover the box. I encircle it with a piece of shiny green ribbon; a second piece forms the loose ends. A piece of crumpled tissue makes the bow.

Contrast: pattern paper/ photographic paper. Red/green.

Easy: It's all recycled fragments.

Tissue Wrap

Cross Ribbons

The contrast of textures makes this wrap lively. All my ribbon is recycled, but I especially love the wire-edge ribbons used by makers of food baskets. That's what this red ribbon is. The second ribbon is tri-folded white paper; it also serves as the label.

Easy: This is easy. Remember this design.

Contrast: diversity of textures. Red/green. White/dark.

Collaged Envelope

Speed Wrap

The manila envelope can sometimes make a fine brown-wrap. Add a few scraps from the wrapping drawer and you'v got a lively gift.

Easy: A relatively quick wrap.

Contrast: diverse papers. Angled composition/ rectangular container.

Band Wrap

Traditional Wrapping Materials

Using only actual wrapping materials, I applied bands of paper and ribbon. A small band of babin-in-the-trees paper is framed by the ribbons.The gold ribbon was wound around three times, in a spiral revealing the upper edge of the ribbon; besides looking elegant, this also allows one to use the ribbon without cutting it, thus saving it for another day.

Easy: A relatively quick wrap.

Contrast: ribbons/papers.

Foam Wrap

Innovative Wrapping Material

First I wrapped the gift in red tissue. Then I wrapped it in green packing foam, holding it together with red tinsel-trimmed ribbon. I made a quick-glued bow of the same material and finished it was a small wooden hemisphere. The wrap has charm and a sense of humor.

Easy: A quick wrap.

Contrast: diverse materials. Red/green.


Notecards by John Boak— Drawings of Colorado & Utah