I want to stress that I do not celebrate Christmas just so I can decorate my entire house with swaths of garland so fresh the whole first floor smells like a forest and squirrel poop.  No, I also celebrate Christmas for more altruistic reasons; the presents.

I like to give ’em, I like to get ’em, but most of all I like to wrap them.

I would like for you to gasp so hard when you see my wrapping that people try to perform the Heimlich maneuver on you, fearing there’s a drumstick wedged in your esophagus.  That is my goal.

Anything less than that and I’m disappointed in myself.

This year I got my wrapping inspiration from my very own Christmas Pledge Facebook group, which is a group I created for people to motivate each other to create their own near death experience Christmases.  We also encourage each other to gain weight, drink wine and throw mittfuls of tinsel on anything in our path. Close to the beginning of the Christmas Pledge, members were already talking about wrapping ideas and a few people mentioned Furoshiki,  the Japanese art of wrapping in fabric.

I thought to myself, Karen, that’s what you’ll do this year.  Simple, elegant, kind of old timey, and no need for bows.  Great.  I ran myself to Ikea to pick up some cheap fabric. I wanted velvet but they didn’t have any, plus I realized velvet would be way too thick to wrap with.  Tea Towels also ran through my mind but all of my presents would have to be the size of those forest squirrels traipsing through my garland for the tea towel to be big enough, so that idea was eliminated.

I ended up with several meters of natural and black cotton.  It was lightweight and cheap.  That night I got to wrapping my first present.  It looked weird.  So I unwrapped the present and tried again.  No. It still looked weird.  And by weird, I mean, like a diaper.  The present looked like it was wrapped in a giant nappy. No matter what I did or how I adorned it I would be handing over the Christmas equivalent of a baby toilet.

Shocking, but wrapping your presents in a diaper can make them look like shit.

Which means here I sit, on December 1st, without a present wrapping idea.  I’m so ashamed.

I know I’ll come up with something but that doesn’t help you people who are staring at your computers right now waiting for me to spurt out a brilliant choking hazard.

For now I’ll remind you of some of my past ideas in case you’d like to glom onto one of those.

Back in Black – Christmas wrapping 2016. Black paper, black wide velvet bows, dramatic gold accents.


Glitter and Glue – Christmas wrapping 2015.  Tracing the iconic Group of 7 trees onto white paper and glitterizing them.  I like the Group of Seven so much I bought a Group of Seven jigsaw puzzle last year.

Paper and Pinecones – Plain old kraft paper, pinecones, and feed sacks.  Tied up with string.


Christmas Present Dioramas – THE wrapping gold standard.  Create a multitude of scenes on top of wrapped boxes like this one or my other favourite, the skating pond in the forest, complete with ice rink.

At this point the only wrapping idea I can think of that would make someone choke is dipping the presents in ammonia.  Which would be especially effective if wrapped in a that diaper.

Have a good weekend, good luck with your wrapping.  And don’t forget.  It isn’t prosecutable if you’re killing them with kindness.



  1. Sherri says:

    Okay, so this suggestion comes too late. However, I still think there is room for you to try it another time. It involves making giant tissue paper snowflake flowers hiding dollar store tea lights in center. Place on packaging and instant charm occurs. Okay, it works that way in my head. Everything you do is fabulous, so I am prepared to be wowed. Wishing you the most merry of everything and the happiest of all things. Sherri

  2. Fran Nault says:

    First of all I want to thank you Karen for sharing all those beautiful ideas. I love to find new ideas but this year just did it the old way. I have on hand wrapping paper rolls which I used again this year but I bought small ornaments from the dollar store and added them on top of the boxes with some ribbon. If I bought the same gift for my two daughters, I would wrap one in a bigger box so when the first daughter opens her gift it doesn’t give a clue to the second daughter that she is getting the same type of gift (you see what I mean?). My husband and I have four kids in total and when they were small, I used to only put a number and not their name on the gift tags. For instance Tracey would be number 1, Scott number 2 and so on and I was the only one with the list that knew who the gifts belong to. On Christmas Eve we all get together for dinner and after dinner is the big moment when we open gifts and then we play games. Merry Christmas to you Karen and family and all readers.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Fran. Same to you. I love the idea of numbering gifts, but it would have KILLED me as a kid. I loved taking my presents and putting them into a pile every night and trying to guess what was what. Or even just looking at them was fun! ~ karen

  3. Chris White says:

    I am picturing gifts under your tree wrapped in Kraft paper with strips of plaid and leather name tags that could be used as luggage tags after. That is what I know you can accomplish. I, however, will be wrapping in whatever paper I find at the grocery store on sale to complete the “1970s Tacky” theme my boys insist upon every year. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your blog!

  4. Marna says:

    I use to love wrapping gifts, for all occasions. (Use to have friends wrap their gifts and even make gift baskets for them to give as gifts.) For Christmas I use to use the fronts of old Christmas cards or various other things and add various decorations. People seemed to love it. Then I had kids! I went to kiddy paper mostly, but still some decorations on it, maybe a dime store toy–that was a winner. I have three sons, but once they got to teen years, they really only wanted money. I always had a couple of gifts besides money. Now they are adults, they still just want money, but I find some items to add every year. This year it is etched pint glasses with our surname and a heritage crest. They all drink beer, so seemed appropriate. I put those items in various things also. One year it was a red small tote bag, which the wives liked. Another year it was kitchen towels as wrapping, etc. My next idea will be a Christmas pillow with a zipper to put the cash inside.

  5. Heidi says:

    Totally ROCKS!!! I love wrapping and making my own gift tags.
    Really pretty ! Thanks for sharing!

  6. SusanR says:

    Get some gold, silver and orange metallic acrylic paints, wrap the black paper on the presents just like you’d wrap paper, only more artistically like you do. Then use that brush you used for the orange paint for the tree candles and paint swaths of metallic paints in various colors onto the black fabric-wrapped packages. Add a Christmas ornament in one of those colors with whatever ribbon floats your boat and call it a day!

  7. lynn says:

    never seen the Japan wrapping with cloth I must be stuck in a hole or something…
    I do know this about wrapping with cloth though.
    A) it has to be very thin and silky to work.
    B) thicker matherial (oh that looks wrong hate spell check ) you have to make bags.
    preferably that can be used by recipients for other purposes after initial purpose.
    Other wise you might as well use paper as they will just toss it .
    I prefer bags an tissue as bags can be reused as can tissue, an everyone in family kids included grew up with rule no Peek. As Santa remembers year to year. that stopped all Peeks fast.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Collective gasp here, but I am going to the local hardware store and buying up anything that might be considered wrapping material. (Because this is the only place to “shop” in my tiny town). Then I’m going to…. well I dunno yet but this is my plan so far.

  9. Eilee says:

    I think the issue might be the fabric itself. Japanese Furoshiki that I’ve seen has been silk or silk-like fabric. That gives you the drape, rather than the “dipe.”

  10. Benjamin says:

    Does this wrapped present smell like chloroform? GAsp, CHokE, GaCK…

  11. Mary W says:

    NOTHING will change my opinion for the last option you pictured. It is so far ahead of ANY other wrapping design I’ve ever seen! I copied you but added a small plastic dog and a tiny puddle of yellow spray under the tree for my dear brother’s gift. Big Hit! I collected tiny toys all year for this year’s gift. There is hardly anything in the gift boxes we don’t exchange gifts so I get candy bars, amaryllis bulbs, funny toilet paper, an old comic, etc. But they come in BIG gift boxes than no one wants to open since they are so cool – thanks to Sweet Karen B!

  12. Heather says:

    Got to admit to feeling totally ho-hum about Christmas this year. Don’t know why. Tired, probably. But your gifts inspired me, Karen. Suddenly, I’m ready to do it. I’m going to give everyone (read husband, 4 kids and their significant others), one carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped gift. Will probably copy your kraft paper and pinecones and feed sacks theme. Lovely! So, thanks, again! You’re always such fun and so inspiring. If you ever wonder why you do this, remember those of us out here who feel better whenever we hang out at The Art of Doing Stuff. :)

  13. Brenda says:

    Ooooohhhh!! Love wrapping presents but I fall short of the beauty that you’ve created. I’m a fan of Mid-Century Modern – think the super kitchsy stuff. Pink bottle brush trees, shiny round ornaments. Massive hangovers from spiked eggnog at 4 Christmas parties each week for a month!
    If it loads correctly, I found these images of a vintage Christmas cookbook giveaway thingy. Maybe it’ll spark something….

  14. Rick O Shea says:

    As we all know, a gift with an electric cord attached would frowned upon in certain circles, such as a vacuum cleaner or clothes iron. To enjoy the initial reactions and a few good laughs, consider wrapping that special (non-corded) gift with a cut-off cord dangling out of the wrapped box with cord/plug fully exposed for all to see. The deep shit you’d be in would be short lived.

  15. Hi Karen,

    I too am more than a bit crazy when it comes to wrapping gifts. One year I made giant surprise balls. They are made with strips of crepe paper and usually have tiny Cracker Jack type toys. I used more upscale items, but still smallish. The pear was about 14″ tall, and corresponding in size were an apple and a banana (for my “Nana Banana”). They were a mess and a lot of fun to unwrap.

    Another year I did a simpler take on this idea and used the crepe paper to wrap a box. The rolls here in the States have to be cut apart because it is too wide. Can be done with a craft knife. (Go ahead and use it with the blade sticking way out. Haven’t cut off any vital parts yet.) The bonus is that you get two rolls for the price of one. Super easy, super fun and it works well with odd shaped gifts too.

    Happy wrapping, Sandy

  16. Janelle says:

    Perhaps you’ve set the bar too high? What if you took a year and did what I do every year, that being buy the giant Costco pack of wrapping paper and three to six farthings of scotch tape and drunkenly shove the gift in there like a four year old on glue, making tags out of uneven rectangles of wrapping paper scraps? Then, next year anything you come up with will look like some sort of bad-ass, god-like creation by comparison.

  17. Monica says:

    Maybe if you added a little something to the knot portion to make it a little more Elle Décor and a little less Pampers? It might be a little more country than your mid-century modern heart can take, but I like the red current and plaid in this one.

    • Karen says:

      I love country! I have nothin’ against country at all. :) Especially with my tree this year and the candles. I do know the wrapping will be fairly traditional. :) ~ karen!

  18. Ev Wilcox says:

    I use old newspaper Sunday comics for wrapping paper. Several fam & friends were so good to save them for me. When that runs out I will prob get a large roll of plain recycled brown or tan paper. I have many rubber stamps and will go crazy with them before the wrapping. I do not like wrapping at all! But this year I really got ahead of the gift buying debacle and am 99% done-yay! So I am hoping to maybe enjoy Christmas a bit more and maybe the wrapping will not be such a chore. We’ll see.

  19. Kelly says:

    Ahem, ….”mittfuls”? Perhaps mitts-full

    Love your stuff!

    Last year everyone got their stuff in baskets. Some were what I had around the house as I have lots. I’ve had to create a rule: no more baskets. So, using them for gifts was a way to clear them out of here – and make room for more!

  20. NinaMargo says:

    Sometimes I just go with a solid color but glue an old Sunday Bloom County or Calvin & Hobbes comic strip (full of loving whimsical wisdom) on it, along with a calendar page of the month the recipient was born with their birth date circled in highlighter, and my name written below. Finish with a ribbon. Christmas morning becomes a bit of a treasure hunt especially in bigger families, not so much in small(er) ones.

  21. MaggieB says:

    Reindeer poop! Had written a super pithy and witty reply and mobile slipped as I was about to post and now it’s gorn!
    Summary is : no pressure, we are all waiting for your magic to happen / creative gene maybe a bit knackered after Mega burpangelfart, needs to reset / admitted to my secret stashes of gorgeous fabrics and cards that I would send to me or have stacked in my imaginary sewing room / suggestion but didn’t know how to put in this comment so put up in Christmas Pledge group for you. Cheers. Mobile on table now pushing post button!

  22. Marilyn says:

    Who cares what you are going to wrap your presents in , I want to know what the heck you are going to do with several metres of cheap thin black cotton ? I detest wrapping and thus I usually just slap it in a bag or throw some paper around it. You

  23. MaggieB says:

    Karen, have every confidence that you are going to come up with something so cool and amazing, so absolutely no pressure at all m’dear!
    And your creativity gene needs to have a little reset anyways after the mega DIY burpangelfart that you expelled.
    This Japanese fabric wrapping is just lovely and just spent (X)to the power of 9 zillion minutes gorging on glorious Japanese fabrics, beautiful fabric stashing being one of my secret lives, along with cards and handmade paper, shhhhh! With absolutely no intention of sending them out or makng anyrhing. Looking over her shoulder guiltily…
    But back in the real world – what about a mix of using the fabric to make a bag and one of your simple but classy colour combo paper wrappings?

  24. Jody says:

    The candles on your tree make me think about a simple grosgrain ribbon held in place by sealing wax. It continues the modern, simple look with a Victorian influence.

  25. Clare Hollingsworth says:

    I often use out-of-date map books as wrapping paper as the pages are so nice and large – and it’s always fascinating to learn where new places are.
    Also we have loads of charity shops (thrift stores?) so I get lots of scarves of all types for 50p or £1 and use them as wrapping to suit each person.
    When I was a teenager and we bought vinyl records, I had fun swapping the album sleeves so granny thought she had been given Led Zeppelin and my boyfriend grimaced at unwrapping Frank Sinatra – oh, we did laugh! Corny, I know…

  26. Kathy says:

    I have bundles of fabric from projects started and scrapped (hey that just happened, seriously).

    I use that rather than buying new. And sometimes I whip it up into shoe bags as everyone needs those for travel, and use a ribbon at the top of the bag, with tag and doo dah, or a bell.

    And everyone gets something wrapped in the comics from the newspaper, as I start saving those in October. Or old travel maps.

    Wrapping is more fun than shopping, for sure!

  27. Tracie says:

    I just watched the first three episodes of This is Us, season 2, so I may be a tad overly emotional right now, but I’m still really loving that black and gold from last year. Also, the dioramas are so adorable, and creative, I just can’t stand it…I can’t even be upset that you have chosen not to reveal…I mean, haven’t come up with, this year’s ultimate creation, seeing how you have already given us such a wide variety of great wrapping techniques. Thanks Karen!!!

  28. Gaeyl says:

    Can you wash & dry the cotton and then just fold over a line to let the length weight help pull wrinkles out . If that doesn’t work turn your paper grocery bags inside out or kraft paper wrap your presents rip the cotton you purchased into frayed strips make fabric flowers and trimming for packages. Think about having a stamp like your insignia for future Holidays and change colours every season if you like. You could even braid the colours to make it look intentional .

  29. Stephanie says:

    I make fabric bags for gifts although they are more like a laundry bag than a diaper. You can reuse them every year if you don ‘t like wrapping gifts but for kids I wrap the gifts inside the bag with tissue and tape. I double dog dare any kid to open tissue and tape without wrecking it.

  30. kennedy says:

    First off I did laugh out loud when I read your blog post heading in my email box. That’s skill right there… serious skills.

    I also wanted to comment that the black boxes with frames – wonderful. I just adore that idea.

    As far as gift wrap goes, I pinned nearly 200 fricken gift wrap ideas before I decided on this..

    I’m doing mine in burlap, red wrap, and a red flower instead of the green spray. I like it because it’s layered and textured. I am thinking probably not your style as it is simple and plain and not at all chicken-leg-in-the-throat inspiring, but it worked for me!


  31. Jackie says:

    I’m sure you’ll think of something loving the feedsack though – homestead organics is local to my area!

  32. Lianne says:

    I have found that I don’t really mind how bad the Furoshiki wrapping looks as long as the gift giver used an Hermes scarf for the wrapping material.

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