Christmas Wrapping for 2020. A Subdued Affair.

Velvet, old fashioned wrapping paper and preserved flowers are under the tree this year for a pretty, subtle Christmas vibe.

As you know wrapping Christmas presents this year was revolving around the great bolt of velvet fabric. I didn’t know much more about what I was doing until a thing happened.

That thing was the dollar store. I put on the finest of all my sweatpants and made the trip in search of some of the highest quality junk I could get my hands on. 

I forgot to add the word food.  Highest quality junk food.  

On my way into the store I noticed tubes and tubes of wrapping paper. The kind of wrapping paper I’d never buy because I am better than Dollar Store wrapping paper.

Then I walked out with 5 rolls.

The end.

I was kind of weirdly calmed down by the sight of this paper. It genuinely looks like old vintage paper.

Then I went to a second hand store, because I was already dressed for the occasion. 

I walked in wearing a pair of pants with a mostly still elasticized waist and came out with 4 ironstone dessert bowls and 2 rolls of dark green velvet ribbon. 

The wider of the two ribbons has flashes of gold and was just $2. The entire back of the ribbon is metallic gold actually, but you only notice it when you’re looking at the bows from a certain angle. So it’s subtle.

It’ll make itself known in a blindingly spectacular fashion when the present getter undoes the bow. 


I didn’t abandon my homemade red velvet fringed bows. I still used them because they went with everything else I got for wrapping as well.

I tried just the ribbon on the packages but it was just too dull, so I added in some of my preserved Amaranth flowers from this summer and greenery.

That’s all it took to make them still look kind of old fashioned, but a bit more exciting. 

Revolutionary?  No.  But I still like it. I’m not sure why I randomly added gold stars to the bottom of a few of the bows, but I did and now they look like senior commanders.


The actual greenery is Weeping False Nootka Cypress and spruce. The Cypress is from my backyard tree and the spruce I stole from a wreath. My wreath. Not a random wreath at all.

I guess that’s a wrap. 

What did you do this year for wrapping? And are you currently wearing your good sweatpants?

Christmas Wrapping for 2020. A Subdued Affair.


  1. Darla S Ragland says:

    I have a red buffalo plaid motif this year. I scored multiple rolls of black wire edged velvet ribbon with gold trimmed edges for $1 each. I make lovely bows by hand and am quite pleased with the result.

  2. Judy S says:

    My sister and I decided to cheer ourselves up this year, by hand decorating our wrapping papers. Ink stamps, colored pencils and markers have been deployed, on a roll of white paper. The bird ID chart got an adorable series of owls, and several kitchen items featured brown mushrooms that were colored in a variety of slightly sinister yet delectable hues. A doormat has been wrapped in an old map of the area, with the house address and the street index circled on it, along with a ‘You are here’ message. We are waiting to receive several children’s books, in order to deploy a stegosaurus stamp.
    Our ribbon game is pretty lame though. We’re both terrible at tying bows, and admittedly a bit under motivated. Eh, it’s an aspiration for next year….
    Your packages are lovely :)

  3. Leslie says:

    Why do I never see ironstone at a cheap resale shop?

  4. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I thought of you today in Dollarama. Every year they come out with more amazing stuff. Today it was bottlebrush wreaths so similar to some my family had in the 50’s that it made something catch in the back of my throat. Maybe I shoulda bought them….
    But I did buy 9 knitted toques that light up with Rudolph’s butt hole filled with a pink peppermint candy and a tiny flashing red light. And there’s a poo pile of candies on the ground. I hope my great nieces and nephews from 6 to 16 love them as much as their crazy “graunty” does!

  5. Capelover says:

    Your presents are beautiful. Also, I loved your tour. Christmasy and elegant. Merry Christmas to you and Betty!

  6. Vikki says:

    I’ve never seen old-fashioned so elegant. Beautiful!!
    ‘The funniest thing I’ve heard about what to wear is a woman who said: “I like Dollar Store because I don’t have to dress up like when I go to Walmart.” !!!

  7. Marie Anne says:

    So pretty! I’m so late to the Christmas party this year that I haven’t even thought about wrapping yet. Having Christmas in May with the family this year, so it will be just us and our mothers this year, with a few porch drop offs. I’ll have to make sure I’m stocked boxing week for May!

  8. Rita Pearsall says:


  9. Jodi Blackman says:

    I ordered gorgeous paper from a Melbourne based company called Inky Co this year. It cost more than I would usually spend on paper, but it’s so delightfully pretty. One roll is a watercolour of green-grey eucalyptus foliage, the other is a coordinating but more colourful festive botanical print. I have a stockpile of belly bands and various ribbons but none as elegant as your velvet ones, I think the red, green and gold are very lovely. It’s great to see what you come up with each year.

    I think I will choose ribbon as I wrap each person’s gifts and add an individual touch by making my own gift tags. Though I have a stash of those too. I’m just waiting for a parcel to arrive before I sit down to wrap everything. I’ve used leftover paper from last year to wrap up the gifts in my partner’s advent calendar.

    I always look out for Christmas wrapping paper with patterns that could be used throughout the year, as it’s a good time to buy it.

  10. Elaine says:

    We do all of our presents in decorated boxes. I livened up some of the plainer ones with glitter glue ribbons and Christmas sayings. Some are looking a bit worse for wear but nothing that a bit of tape and a bow from our huge bag won’t cover. Cold snowy mornings, pj’s all the way.

  11. Deborah says:

    We began pre-wrappng boxes (like they do on Soap Operas) with favorite wrapping paper from each year, and have two 3′ piles of them to reuse each year, and we reuse Christmas Bags of all sizes collected over the years. Santa brought each child a new one each year.
    We use cloth ribbons on all boxes and bags, because our cats eat the thin paper curled ribbons. I’m hanging out in jeans and a fleece jacket, my go to for Covid times.
    Love you’re posts, they brighten my day.
    And I followed your advice and recharged a leaf blower battery! It’s working fine now! Love it!

  12. Mary W says:

    Your amaranth is such a beautiful idea, I love to forage for decorations. (Both in my attic and in my yard.) I saw some paper folded package toppers and think that my tree will have paper folded presents under it – except I don’t have a tree nor presents so it will be off to the dollar store and buy plenty of tape. (Tape is what I’m getting my 5yo grandson – he is addicted.) I got one tiny 3″ long flower off my amaranth and dog pee killed my evergreens. I’m so glad I have your blog to look at since down here in my world, we are decorating in the 2020-sucks theme.

  13. Marge Pritchett says:

    Love your special touches and spontaneity! My approach this year was using Christmas fabric to wrap. Bought on sale after last Christmas, hopefully the recipients will find another purpose for it afterward.

  14. Jane says:

    When the kids were small, hubby and I used to stay up till 2 or 3 on Christmas morning wrapping presents. Then I’d be up before 7 to start Christmas dinner. Some 15-20 years ago, I bought tonnes of Christmasy fabric and sewed bags of different sizes with drawstrings at one end. Have been using them to wrap presents ever since. Eco-friendly, fast, all they need are some little decorations if we want to go fancy.

  15. Cathy Prince says:

    Ever since the kids were little, I’d wrap their gifts in Xmas fabric. They’re all adults now, and they’ve made comments that they will be arguing over these bits of fabric when I’m gone. Not my jewelry or anything of value-old, fraying fabric pieces! This year, with Covid, my husband and I will be porch-delivering our gift for their families to each of their homes on Christmas Eve. Didn’t want to give away all that fabric (cause I know I’d never get it back) so I decided to make fabric “ribbons” to add to the kraft paper wrapping. I love the look and I’m sure it will bring them to smile when they notice it.

  16. A. G. says:

    I’ve lovely and talented red IKEA paper finished with vintage cloth ribbons in sage green and red.
    I also have vintage black and white cloth ribbons with tiny rats on one side and stripes on the other. I couldn’t bear to part with these. They’ll dress up my winter Doc Martens instead.

    I like the cedar sprig idea – will use.

  17. Susan says:

    Shorts cos its too hot. Haven’t wrapped presents yet.

  18. TucsonPatty says:

    I quit buying and wrapping presents years ago, but I love to see others go all out!
    Yours are soothingly beautiful.
    I am wearing my good sweatpants and my good long sleeved t-shirt over the top of another short sleeved t-shirt. With a fuzzy warm blanket over my legs and feet. I’m falling asleep,
    Because I’m so warm and cozy, and I’ll bet that I dream of a Christmas tree and beautifully wrapped presents.

    • Marilyn says:

      TucsonPatty, I’ve seen your name come up on Karen’s blog a number of times. I live in Patagonia and would like to meet up with a fellow follower of The Art of Doing Stuff, if you’re still in Tucson. I know thus is unusual but if you’re interested, you could message me on Facebook or [email protected].

      Karen, it’s always a pleasure to see the joy you get from wrapping a pretty present. My daughter uses greenery sprigs too. It’s a nod to nature that is beautiful.

      • Sabina says:

        Marilyn, I love this! I hope that you and Tucson Patty get to meet. I’m on the other side of the lake so right now our border is closed due to COVID but I’ve often thought I’d love to meet up with Karen sometime as she’s just a nice road trip away.

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