How To Gift Wrap: Tips for Wrapping Gifts

Learn to Use Gift Bags and Gift Wrapping Paper

Christmas gift

Before you can wrap a gift, you need to have a gift to give! Now: is there an intimidating-shaped gift sitting before you, taunting you with its irregularity? You have to gift wrap it... but how? You may be wondering if you'll ever figure this out.

Don't give up hope - Rome wasn't gift wrapped in a day. In fact, Rome was never gift wrapped, which is why it was successfully attacked by the Visigoths. Don't believe me? Then you're smart enough to learn how to gift wrap. 

Let's start off with the basic technique for wrapping commonly-shaped gifts - the rectangular kind. For this, unless the gift is enormous, gift wrapping paper will do the trick nicely. We'll talk about gift bags later.

  1. Choose a roll of gift wrapping paper. Your choice may be determined by the season or occasion - holiday, birthday party, anniversary or retirement, to name a few. Unroll some of the paper face-down on a flat surface.
  2. Place your gift on the wrapping paper so that you can curl the loose end of the paper over the top of the box, covering one half of the gift.
  3. Then bring the other wrapping paper end (the one likely attached to a roll) up to meet the paper end that you already wrapped over the top (it's good if the two paper pieces overlap just a bit). When you've found the length of paper that lets you cover the box completely with a little overlap, mark the spot on the paper with your pencil. You've just figured out how long the paper sheet must be.
  4. Now let's figure out how wide it must be. Take a look at how much paper is overhanging on either side of your gift. Too much overhang will complicate later steps in the gift wrapping process. If you lay the paper flat and place the gift on top of it, the proper amount of excess width on either side of the gift should be a little more than half the height of the gift. That way, both sides of the gift can be fully wrapped. If your gift rises ten inches above the flat paper, then you'd probably want to leave about six inches of paper stretching beyond the gift on each side. Use the pencil once more to mark where you need to cut the paper.
  5. Then use scissors to cut it! Cut in as straight a line as possible - you can use any kind of straight edge to help if necessary. Now you're working with the proper amount of paper to gift wrap.
  6. Be sure to have some scotch tape handy for this next part. Lay the wrapping paper face-down on a flat surface once again. Place the gift face-down on the paper, wrap the paper around the gift as before and tape the ends of the paper together around the center of the box. Now you can flip the box over so that the bottom face of the gift itself is now back on the ground and, with it, the part of the wrapping paper you just taped. You should be looking at a rectangular gift whose largest faces are all covered by wrapping paper. Two side faces of the gift remain bare. Pick one of these exposed sides to gift wrap next.
  7. Have a couple pieces of tape ready once again. Look at the side of the box in front of you. You'll see that the small exposed side facing you has wrapping paper overhanging each edge. Fold the left and right side flaps of this paper (as opposed to the top and bottom flaps) tightly in toward the center of the face. Press and smooth the paper over those left and right edges of the gift where you folded the paper inward. Get those edges nice and crisp! But beware of your box sliding away from you within its paper; the result of sliding is an overabundance of overhanging paper on your current side and a scarcity of overhang on the other.
  8. Now close the top and bottom flaps by folding them (bottom flap underneath top flap) toward the center of that face of the gift. Tape the top flap to the bottom flap.
  9. Do the same to the other side of the gift - the only remaining bare side.
  10. Congratulations - the most essential part of the gift wrap session is over! Go have a sip of eggnog, if appropriate. To embellish your gift, use either ribbon or a bow. If you use ribbon, be sure to wrap it around your package and figure out the proper length you need before proceeding to cut the ribbon.
  11. If the gift is for a holiday and the whole family will be present, you might want to put a tag on it. You spent this entire time gift wrapping - it would be a shame if the wrong person tore it open!
  12. And that's a wrap... a gift wrap.

When it comes to large or irregular gifts that don't cooperate with the process outlined above, you have two options.

  1. Wrap the gift using wrapping paper anyway. Ignore the fact that it's just not working out that well, and focus on the positive - even if the gift wrap doesn't have those crisp, clean edges and wrinkleless, flat faces, nobody will be able to see the gift itself beneath the mess. Your other option is to find a rectangular box into which your irregular gift will fit. If you can find one, then your gift wrap job will be much easier. If the gift is regularly shaped, but too large for a roll of paper, you can buy multiple rolls of the same design and cover the box in pieces, using roughly the same methods described above.
  2. Buy a gift bag instead of wrapping paper. Though it removes the fun of wrapping with paper, and you won't have as many options regarding the design of the wrap, your package won't look like it was gift wrapped by a family of angry otters either. Wrapping fits with gift bags is an easy way to dress up a gift that's awkward to wrap. Not only that, but the irregular shape will be hidden so as to keep the nature of the gift a total secret. And there are ways you can dress up a bag, too, so that even a garbage bag becomes festive and fun. Get creative!
  3. If the gift is a bottle (lucky recipient), you can find perfectly sized gift-baggies at the local store that sells wrapping paper and cards. Once again, a bottle in a bag is less conspicuous than a bottle wrapped in gift paper. Using tissue paper to cover the top of the bag is valuable for its attractiveness and practicality.

    On the other hand, sometimes the aim is to be conspicuous. If you're wrapping a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor, use a brown paper bag to best complement the gift. Magnifique!

Romans may not have done any gift wrapping, but the Visigoths did. Recent discoveries have revealed that they were the most skilled gift wrappers anywhere in Eurasia. Not to be confused with Gothic and neo-Gothic gift wrap, with which we're all familiar, Visigoth gift wrapping was admired and its practitioners feared for their delicate and meticulous art. Perhaps most captivating and poignant of all is that this art was designed to be regarded for but a fleeting moment, and then demolished. No wonder, then, that their perspective on the decline of the Western Roman Empire was so undeniably poetic. Though the lives we lead may be quite different than the Visigoths', the ephemeral beauty of gift wrapping remains equally captivating. Let the Visigoths be an inspiration to us all when we gift wrap in this day and age, even if I am completely wrong about them.

 

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