Past & Present Wrapping Ideas (get it?)

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.

Christmas Wrapping Ideas

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.


Town and Country

Cozy, comfortable but sophisticated wrapping. Kind of my favourite. I say that about a lot of them though.

The Ribbon.

Have you been doomed to using up old ugly wrapping paper? It’s not the end of your beautiful present wrapping dreams.

Tie it up with a really nice ribbon and you’ll be in good shape. Add a sprig or two and you’re good to go.

This is just cruddy dollar store paper with wide velvet ribbon.  Not even the good velvet ribbon, just regular cheap, hard velvet ribbon. Although I must warn you that after posting this wrapping last year someone emailed me to say it was THE MOST DISAPPOINTING THING THEY’D EVER SEEN.

Obviously this person had never had their Apple watch light up and thought they made their move goal for the day, but it was actually just their stand goal.

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. Christmas present dioramas will win ANYONE over.

Again with the ribbon

A few years ago I found the most beautiful ribbon, perfect for my house EVER. Plaid with gold fringe. For tags I used gold chain by the foot from the hardware store and added glitter and leather tabs with the recipient’s first initial.  See how I did all the wrapping and tagging  here.

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.

p.s. This year’s wrapping will be posted on Monday!


Past & Present Wrapping Ideas (get it?)


  1. Monica Pembrooke says:

    This might be the best website on the entire internet. I’m not remotely joking.

  2. Sandy says:

    All so lovely. Make sure Philip is contained elsewhere while you are wrapping as Mr Nosey News will find them a chew fest. You don’t want to spend time at the emergency vet as a part of your Christmas tradition.

  3. Lynn says:

    OMG! So many great ideas–thank you! A few years ago–I bought a Walmart Christmas tree for our basement–low ceilings dictate the height…and quite my accident–I got a black tree instead of the green one I was after. Turned out to be one of the best mistakes I ever made–our basement bar has a black top and the mantle is black. I now use black wrapping paper and am quite the fan of silver bows and silver ornaments on the tree. AND–I have a shit-ton of feed sacks courtesy of a brief attempt at creating a self sustaining homestead and may start wrapping everything in them! Merry Christmas, Karen!! And a very Happy New Year!!

    • Mary Jo says:

      Awesome! I have wanted to do a black tree for a long time, but get poo pooed down. To late this year but I believe next Christmas I won’t say anything and just do it, and wait for the ooos and ahhhhs when the lights reflect beautifully off the silver ribbon and ornaments. Your tree sounds amazing.

      • Lynn says:

        It was a happy accident! It’s a bonus that our basement has black and red accents so it looks fabulous! The silver ornaments just pop-Merry Christmas!!

  4. Sara says:

    When I was a young mother obsessed with all things Martha Stewart (WHY didn’t I realize that woman had STAFF?! Totally unsustainable way to live as only one person), one year I wrapped all of the gifts with brown Kraft paper and tied them up with raffia bows, all of the tags were red silk leaves stolen from a fall garland each recipient’s name written on said leaf with gold paint pen. I thought it was the cutest thing ever. Only ONE family member cooed over the wrap job, my sweet former father in law. I mean what kind of family doesn’t recognize that feat of cuteness?! I divorced those jerks.

    • Karen but not that karen says:

      I also was a Martha fan(ok,I admit,I still use her Gingerbread recipe ) year I stamped gold snowflakes onto white tissue paper,matching tags, tied up with gold ribbon,with handmade by me gold pipecleaner snowflakes….ABSOLUTELY no one commented, (mother in law got even more cranky than usual,of course)…older and wiser now. I just don’t give any gifts to family,donate to charity instead. Works well.

  5. Jocelyn says:

    Try searching for furoshiki wrapping in Japanese to get more ideas. (ふろしき ラッピング furoshiki wrapping)

  6. Randy P says:

    Maybe some spray on glitter on a stuffed squirrel with a bow around its neck? Or for a ‘time-sensitive’ indoor idea, use a freshly killed squirrel? – If kept as a decoration on your nifty front porch it could last a full Canadian Winter I’m guessing. Now we’re talking festive….. I could be mistaken.

    • Kat - the other 1 says:

      I love that idea!
      Now everyone using that idea come here to catch your squirrels, we have a buttload!!! ;)

      (They are nasty critters and I’m very allergic, the little jerks!
      And of course the cats think they taste awful and will barely even chase them, lol!)
      I just planted a bunch of spring bulbs in October and they’ve already eaten many of them! *cries*

      • Randy P says:

        I say trap one, croak it and leave it on the porch as a warning to all the others that you’re serious and unafraid!

      • Kat - the other 1 says:

        Ha! I’d love to have a bunch of squirrel “scarecrows” around the garden, but sadly, I’m quite allergic. Just being nearby is enough to react. Sadly the same goes for bunnies. (And almost anything else with, or use to have, fur.:(

      • Karen but not that karen says:

        Some stupid gray squirrel dug up my bulbs- I tried sprinkling cinnamon, which does deter deer(sometimes). Didn’t work. Next I boiled up Chile peppers, poured Chile water around. It did work, and as far as I know, no squirrels were actually harmed(if you scatter Chile pepper flakes, it is terrible, it really hurts the squirrels. This just repels them.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. Heidi says:

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

    • Elmine says:

      How about still using fabric, but instead of tying it, you use it in the same way as you’d use paper and secure it with pins. I think you might still need to use a bow or something (maybe a miniature homemade wreath) to complete the look.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.”

  16. Benjamin says:

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

  17. 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!

  18. 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. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Art of Doing Stuff