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 Fifteen: Various Innovations

Exhuberant Ribbon Wig

Heap of Fun

I used hot glue and just kept on adding scraps from the ribbon box. I added a small pre-fab bow on the top of the heap.

Contrast: flat box, dimensional ribbon wig. Variety of ribbons.

Easy: Takes a while to build up the layered ribbons, but it is not challenging.

Shiny Berry Boxes

Wrap Materials are Everywhere

Two foam blueberry containers make the core of this frivolous wrap. They are glued together with tiny dots of hot glue. Then I glued the red cord, recycled from shopping bags, around the join.

I placed a piece of dark and dull green paper on top of the blue boxes to cover up the embossed lettering of the box's manufacturer. I added the wide gauzy red ribbon with gold trim, taping it to the bottom of the wrap. Last of all I saw that the indentations of the blue box called out for more ribbon to emphasise their shape; I added thin black ribbons, tucking them under the big red ribbon.

Contrast: Contrast of material cultures: industry and retail. Contrast of textures.

Easy: This one takes a bit of crafty accumulation. I saved the blue boxes for two months. But I had no clear idea of how the wrap would work. In the end I made the wrap very quickly. Improvisation is the soul of wrap art.


Big Fun with a Small Box

Improvisation, as I have noted, makes wrap art work.

After I had wrapped the small box in red foil scrap paper, I noticed an old bow that I had been breaking up for ribbon fragments. It had a gold glass ornament inside it. It looked like a head, so I glued it on the top of the package. Now, I wanted the package to stand on its own, so I cut two small pieces of wooden dowel for legs. The popsicle-stick feet, long in back and front, make the box stand up just fine.

I added popsickle-stick arms. I glued on some cardboard eyes and a mouth.

But I needed a hat. I folded a purple ribbon fragment around my fingertip and noticed that it made a cone with a flap in the back. Adding a spot of glue I was done. It was a big hit under the tree, standing on top of the other presents.

Contrast: Plain box and complex form. Boxes usually hide toys, but here the form sneaks out. And the actual gift was not a toy, so we have contrast of presentation and content.

Easy: This takes a bit of work. But it did not take that much time.

Brave New Wrap

Envelope Pushing

While poking around the basement. looking for materials, I discovered that I had a half of a coconut shell, one of nature's great and powerful wraps. How could I resist?

I placed the gift inside the coconut half, placed four dots of hot glue on its rim, and placed in on a large piece of blue closed-cell packing foam that I had never quite been able to throw away. I had the beginning of a brave new wrap.

Pulling back into the material culture of wrapping, I took a piece of red ribbon and spiralled around the blue foam. I did not need to cut it. I just taped it. It can be reused.

I took a second ribbon fragment, transparent and metallic, and taped it to the back of the foam. I wove it under the first three bands of red ribbon then let it soar up to the pinnacle of the coconut and plunge back down to the back of the blue foam.

Next I pick up three scraps of paper with contrasting textures. I made them into the wrap's label and tucked them under the ribbon.

Contrast: All the materials contrast. There is also a strong contrast between the norms of wrapping and the end result. There is a contrast between the size, scope and silliness of the wrapping and the small and elegant gift that emerged.

Easy: This did not take much time or work. The only challenge was following through on the inspiration of the coconut that had been waiting for me in the basement.

Speed Wrap

Pushy Envelope

I was moving fast, when it occurred to me that staples have long been ignored in wrapping. I took my sheet of florist's paper, cut a rectangle, inserted the gift and began stapling. I applied some hot glue to seal the envelope. Then I cut the upper edge with scissors to make a fringe. The label is a scrap of construction paper. I noticed a bow fragment with a lively curve in it; I glued it one.

Contrast: Contrast of techniques: mailroom, kitchen, and craft. Contrast of bright and dull colors.

Easy: Very speedy.

Hold that Wrap

Belt it Down

The gift is small and it is wrapped with two tiny fragments of recycled wrapping paper. But I wanted something more. I took a square of foam-core board and wrapped it with a bright paper napkin that had been lurking for many years in my paper drawer. I took a spare band of folded foil paper and use it to fix the little box in place. The name tag is glued on, overhanging the corner, to add an extra bit dimensionality to the wrap.

Contrast: Contrast of paper patterns. Contrast in size between the gift and the wrap.

Easy: Simple and fairly quick.

wine-bumper wrap

Wine Bumper Wrap

From your Local Wine Merchant

This wrap takes a modern throw-away and gives it new life as a wrap enhancer. It is, of course, limited to those packages small enough to fit inside the bumper. And you do have to save up a few.

The green color and busy texture remind me of pine trees, an appropriate holiday analogy.

Contrast: Contrast of textures. Contrast in material purpose: protecting wine, presenting presents.

Easy: Slow but not too complicated.

How to: Click here for a page on technique.

notecardsNotecards by John Boak— Drawings of Colorado & Utah