A Step-by-Step Guide to Wrapping Gifts

How to wrap gifts- a step-by-step guide (with pictures!)
You’ve conquered the Black Friday shopping madness and now your closet is full of goodies for special people on your Christmas list.  Ready to have that closet space back — and fill up the space under your Christmas tree?  We’re here to help make it even easier!  Wanting those picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy gifts under your tree?  Wrapping gifts the old fashioned way – with paper and ribbon – doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated.  Here are a few quick tips as well as a thorough step-by-step guide to wrapping your presents to perfection.

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First, you’ll need to assemble a few simple supplies:

1. Some wrapping paper.  I LOVE coordinating my wrap each year.  We end up with something like 40 presents under our tree (large extended family that we enjoy exchanging with), so I buy several rolls.  This year we have lots of classic red, plaid, and a couple of fun prints.  I buy my gift wrap at the end of the previous season, catching the major Christmas clearance that many stores run.  Storing in the garage or storage closet for a year is worth paying only $1-2 per roll of paper, in my book. If you prefer to shop from the convenience of your home, you can always find some great options here.
2. Ribbon.  I have really fallen in love with the fancy touch that wire-edged ribbon gives to a wrapped gift.  It can minimize extra costs for added touches, while giving a nice, classic finish.  I buy my wire-edged ribbon at Sam’s (I’m guessing Costco carries it, too) for about $7 for a 100 yard spool.  My favorite width is 1.5 inches.  That seems to work well for larger or smaller boxes.  (That’s a TON of ribbon.)  If you don’t have Sam’s or Costco near you, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby run some really good sales around this time of year (and if they don’t happen to be running ribbon on sale, they both always offer a 40% off of one item coupon).  An alternative to ribbon is baker’s twine.  It works well for smaller packages. Prefer to shop online? This is similar to the burlap ribbon pictured.
3. Tape.  Go cheap and simple on this one.  What I have pictured is a jumbo size roll of transparent tape – the biggest and cheapest roll I could find at Walmart.  The glossy transparent tape will hide easily on most gift wraps. You can grab some tape online here
4. Sharp scissors.  Forgive me, talented seamstress friends, for breaking a cardinal rule! I cut my paper with fabric sheers.
5. A good pen or marker for marking on gift tags. I prefer an ultra fine-tip Sharpie, as it shows up easily on most papers, writes well on even glossy finish tags, and doesn’t skip like a ball point pen might.  

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Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, choose which gift you’d like to wrap first.  I chose one of the gifts that we’re giving my three year old, a 5 DVD set of the Theo series.  (Which we LOVE, by the way!  They are beautiful and phenomenal Christian Children’s shows, teaching Bible stories and theology at a level that they can understand.)

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The first step is going to be to measure your wrapping paper.  I highly recommend purchasing wrapping paper that has a grid printed on the back.  It makes cutting accurate (and straight lines) a breeze.  Lay your box on the paper and take a minute to measure using the grid.  You want enough paper on each of the four sides to go just past the middle of each size.  That will insure that you have enough paper to cover completely, without having to trim extra off as you go.

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Now that your paper is the perfect size, take one long edge and fold it over towards the middle and secure it to the gift with a piece of tape, repeating with the other long edge.  Take just a couple extra seconds to make sure that you pull the paper snuggly.  I also recommend finger creasing each folded edge for a clean finished product.

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Let’s move on the more complicated short edges.  Place the package with the long edge seam side up.  Now take that seam side and fold it down (image #1 above), securing with a piece of tape.  That will create two angles of paper on the side.  Crease those.  Now, as image #2 shows, take one of those smaller edges and fold it towards the middle of the box side, securing with tape and repeating on the other side.  Image #3 is the view you should have from overhead.  Fold the remaining straight edge towards the middle and add tape.

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You have one completed end and one raw edge end.  To simplify finishing the raw edge edge, set your package on end (the completed end) to give you an easier edge to work with.  Repeat the above steps for wrapping the ends of a package (folding seam side toward the middle, shorter edges toward the middle, and the final straight edge toward the middle) and you’ve got a completely wrapped gift. 

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It’s time to move on to the finishing step – tying a simple bow around your gift.  As I mentioned in the section on supplies, I usually use a 1.5 inch wire-edged ribbon, but satin ribbon or baker’s twine will work for this simple method.  Choose your ribbon and then pull a length out from the spool.  Wrap the ribbon 2-3 times around your box in each direction to make sure you have enough for the bow.  

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Hold your cut ribbon and find both raw edges.  Hold them together and straighten out the ribbon to find the exact middle.  If you’re using wire-edged ribbon, make a little crease for reference.

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Lay your ribbon on your wrapped gift – seam side down.  Adjust the ribbon so that the exact center of the length is at the center of the package.  Now flip the gift to seam side up, holding your ribbon in place.  Take your ribbon tails – on in each hand and cross them at a 45* angle.  You want it to look exactly like it does in Image #3.  Tug gently on the ribbon tails to make sure the ribbon is taut, hold in place, and flip your gift back to seam side down.

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Gather your ribbon tail and make a simple double knot.  Don’t worry about squishing your ribbon.  If it’s wire-edged, it’ll flatten and fluff easily.

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You’re almost done!  At this point, pretend that you’re trying your tennis shoes and you’re golden!  Around the tree, through the hole, and pull the bunny ears.  (Something like that… ha!)  Adjust your ribbon, twisting until your bow is where you’d like it.  Fluff the bow loops and straighten out the lengths around your package.  

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Trim the raw edges of your ribbon, add a gift tag, and you’re done!  

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Bonus step: Place your gift under your tree to wait for Christmas Day. 🙂 

Leave a comment below and tell us what your favorite color or print of Christmas wrapping paper is!

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Laurel West

Happy Wife. Mom of Three. Homemaker. Christ Follower. Multigenerational Texan. Chai Addict. Photographer. Health Nut. Natural Birth Junkie. Classically Trained Soprano. Founder of Adventures in Oiling. Amateur Graphic Designer.

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One thought on “A Step-by-Step Guide to Wrapping Gifts

  1. This was a great, detailed set of instructions! I agree with the tips for paper with grids and buying at the end of the previous season. Getting out the new wrapping paper the next year is always a fun surprise too. 😉

    Green is my favorite color (also my mother’s), so I always look for papers with lots of green! Hobby Lobby had a tone on tone green paper a few years ago that we bought a couple of rolls of and it is still going strong (their rolls are so long)!

    Thanks for sharing! The pictures are super helpful!

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