Wrapping it Up Wrap Up

I have the tiniest little announcement to make.

I’m Chinese.

No I’m not. That’s not the announcement I wanted to make at all. It just sort of popped out.

The actual announcement I wanted to make was … I haven’t decided on my holiday gift wrapping yet. Which, if you follow my Christmas Pledge calendar you know was supposed to be figured out almost 2 weeks ago.

I just don’t know what to do. I’ve done a sort of burlappy, rustic kind of thing the last couple of years, which I love but I think I want more sparkle this year. This first Christmas without the fella is going to be a tough one, so I figure I can combat that with a little sparkle. Or maybe a big Bulgarian.

I went through some of my old wrapping posts to see if some of them would give me any ideas, and they did. Which I am not going to tell you about just yet.

But, in case you, like me, haven’t quite found the perfect wrapping idea, here are a few of my past wrapping posts to get you inspired. (click on each picture to take you to the original post)

click map

Pine Cone Bow Neck tie bow Gift Wrap Bow Pimp Your Bow Feed Sack Wrap Tag Download

Need more inspiration? Take a look at my Etsy Wrapping Gift Guide. Even if you don’t buy something, it’s a good place to get ideas.


And if you’re running out of time and feeling a bit harried, you can never go wrong with any combination of plain white paper, brown craft paper, white satin ribbon and twine.

Also, for some reason at the moment, I’m feeling a kinship to anything with lanterns and dragons.


  1. Andrea Meyers says:

    I wish I could decorate as pretty as I’d like. But, I get the bestest I can find that the kid sells from school, and hopefully call it a day :)

  2. Jenny says:

    I enjoy making bows. People are always amazed by my bows.

    I just use a bow maker to help me. I tell people that, but they still insist it is a secret talent.

    What they don’t know is I spend an unhealthy amount of time finding the right paper and making sure the ribbon matches said paper and that the bow is the correct size for the paper pattern/present size/occasion. Not to mention other little odds and ends to make complete my gift vision (paper pattern lines up, there are no “rough edges”, etc). The actual making of the bow is diddly.

    But they keep focusing on the dang bow. APPRECIATE MY OBSESSIVE WRAPPING SKILLS DAMNIT!!!!

  3. Janet says:

    Karen…I am so honored this is my first comment back from you ever! There is nothing like chartreuse and copper to make your right, or left, eyebrow to raise up and go, hmmmmmmmmmmm. Honk

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Sorry ’bout that. I get a lot of comments and I can’t reply to them all! I do read and laugh at them all though. :) Well … the ones that are meant to make me laugh anyway. ~ karen!

  4. Janet says:

    Karen, here is what I do. Love copper and chartruese, its my modern minds version of typical red and green, which I just dont do because it doesnt fit with my homes color scheme. I find gorgeous papers at Home Goods…dont know if you have one, Im in Sarasota 84 degree area, and then find beautiful wired ribbons in gold, copper, silver metallics. You can use it all year, but at Christmas, it is an unexpected, BLINGY, option. No one ever wants to open the packages, which allows you to go inexpensive because the wrappings are so lovely…let me just honk my own horn…..beep beep….or honk honk, depending on which part of the country you are in at the time of said “honking”! Honk honk goes out to you!

  5. Kari says:

    Ok, I’m inspired. The bird paper and the pine cone bows are beautiful and I’m going to do that! I’ve been there at Christmas and it sucks but little things like going for cocoa/coffee at night, holiday plays/concerts and looking at decorations really helped me. Just doing festive things more often than I normally would actually kinda worked!

  6. Sara says:

    By the way, it just dawned on me, you had a throw-away comment hidden in the middle of a paragraph where only the readers of every single word would catch it, that you need some sparkle for this first Christmas without the fella. Just wanted you to know, I read it. I have absolutely nothing helpful to say, other than I’m sorry you have to experience that this Christmas and I read it. I heard you.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Sara. I’m not feeling sorry for myself. But I know what’s ahead and it will definitely need some sparkle. :) ~ karen!

  7. Barbie says:

    OK! LOL I know this post is about what wrapping paper I’m thinking of using…..but….hahahahaha! I just clicked on Marti’s nextfella.com link!!! I think you should try it Karen I really do! And search for a Chinese guy! LOL

  8. stephbo93 says:

    I am absolutely astounded at the thought that people put into this. I just grab whatever is in the wrapping paper bin and then either slap a sticky bow on it or quickly tie a coordinating ribbon on it. My husband? He’s lucky is he can figure out how to cover the present completely with the paper he has chosen.

  9. Glenda says:

    I have always enjoyed wrapping gifts for Christmas, taking after my mother in her joy and creativity. Last year I was particularly pleased with my “creations”, having added swarovski crystal charms on each package along with the bows, etc. I also made handmade tags. Unfortunately, my dil and family are not impressed with such things. It was a bit of a “downer” when the granddaughter was tickled with the red swarovski crystal on her package, but her mother said, “just throw it away, it’s just a decoration”. I was so stunned I couldn’t think of a thing to say as it went into the “trash bag” …. I’m prepared should it ever happen again. A comment such as “oh, and by the way, I was so tickled to find the “whatever” that I’ve attached to the bow — I hope you enjoy it as part of the gift.” Still enjoy wrapping special gifts for those who appreciate the effort and creativity. This year I’ve been slow in picking out wrap as I have so much left over from last year … guess I will see how I can use it look different than last year.

    • Karen says:

      Glenda – Here’s how you deal with that … you yell “OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? WERE YOU RAISED IN A CAVE??? THAT’S A SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL!! TAKE THAT OUT OF THE GARBAGE RIGHT NOW!!! Or something like that. ~ karen!

  10. also you might find it interesting, I know i did, you can get custom made Wrapping Paper from Spoonflower http://www.spoonflower.com/gift_wrap Its kinda pricy for my cheap ass but I am keeping it in mind for future years. You could get custom paper with your cleaver on it. or whatever you want. plus they have a library of great predesigned options.
    my mind was blown.

  11. this year i am going for dollar store kraft paper (dollar tree has some with stars etc) MAYBE some plain gold paper,if i decide to get all fancy. and a wrapping of yarn. gotta use those left over bit somewhere. As for tagging not sure yet. might just stamp the name right on the package.

  12. Sara says:

    Soooo…I mailed invitations to my daughter’s birthday, bought wine for Thanksgiving and received the requested email from my nieces and nephews of their Christmas wish lists, and watched the first twenty minutes of Elf with my son. Does any of this count?

  13. kelli says:

    omg. Bowie. Morrisey. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Think I’ll be wrapping up gifts to ME with that paper!

  14. Susan says:

    I’m going with maps and red ribbon. In the process of cleaning out the upstairs storage room, I found a box of maps that go back twenty or more years. They’ve been in the box, so are still in good shape. Some are even the same map, sent by some organization wanting a donation or me to subscribe to something, I don’t even remember. Anyway, I think they’ll look nice and colorful. We don’t do lots of gifts, we do a few more expensive gifts to each other, of things we wouldn’t purchase for ourselves. So it won’t be overkill to have six of the same wrapping. I may even try tinting them to either make them look quite old, or to make them look quite Christmassy. Haven’t decided yet, but tinting them won’t take long…a tea wash or a stamp pad applied in the right places. The presents are already here. I’ll make a final decision on wrapping after some experimentation this weekend.

  15. kate-v says:

    just today I came home from the Nearly New Shop with eight (8) beautifully decorated Christmas themed tins in several shapes and sizes – from about 2″ x 1″x 1″ to 10″ x 6″ – the total was $4 plus tax. They are in perfect condition – don’t smell like last years (or who knows what years) cookies or anything . I will go every day until I get enough to finish the gift wrapping. It going to be a great Christmas and I’m already wrapping up eight (8) presents. If the Nearly New doesn’t get more nice ones, I’ll use gift bags from the $ store. that is good enough for me as they are 3/$1 and the tissue paper only costs $1. Don’t have any really big gifts to give this year. If I finish my sister’s sweater I’ll just wrap a ribbon around it once it’s folded – the yarn is that pretty. I have gift tags left over from the past so I’m nearly ready.

  16. Connie Marshall says:

    For years, I have wrapped gifts in white tissue paper with different curly ribbon. The wrap is inexpensive, so I have more in the budget for gifts, and it looks great under the tree- festive without competing with my tree, which is never themed, but a mixture of old ornaments, homemade ornaments, whatever strikes my fancy at Target, and what friends have given me so it is a hodgepodge of colors and shapes and lights. In my family, I tie each person’s packages with a different color ribbon (nephew gets green, SIL gold, etc.) and curl the ribbon in different ways.

  17. Kristin says:

    My brother in law used to wrap all their presents in the wackiest way possible. Random boxes inside of boxes, sometimes there’d be a can or two of tuna to add misleading heft, and once he wrapped and presented me with my own copper sauté pan that I’d left at their house at Thanksgiving. (He instructed me to open it before I started cooking the dinner, so I could bake my traditional gingerbread tarte Tatin.)

    Last year I chose plain brown paper, with a combo of various gold lame, brown satin, cream satin ribbons, and (the most economical ties of all), brown wool yarn! I wrapped the yarn around the gift several times each way, and still had enough for all the gifts plus some left over. And I cut out dark brown paper and gold paper gift tags, and used either a gold pen or a brown pen to write names. Anyway, the theme was brown, cream and gold because I was finally organized enough to get out my grandmother’s china and set a pretty table. Oh, and I had a box from one of my gift purchases that had some round holes in it, so I used it as a ribbon dispenser! A lucky fluke.

  18. Wendy says:

    Okay. I never worry about wrapping. I always have brown paper, gift bags, tissue and ribbon kicking around. I’m Jewish, so nobody really cares in my family about the theme/look, as long as it doesn’t look to Christmas-ish. Sometimes the whole “blue/silver/gold” thing works, but usually the channukah wrapping is so . . . ahem . . . “yawn.”

    Having said this. My presents always look better than anyone else’s, except maybe my mom’s. I learned to wrap from her. We use bright colours, curly ribbon, and that’s the end of the whole business.

    My husband used to wrap things in tinfoil. He learned to wrap from his mother, who is lots of wonderful things, but a good wrapper is not one of them. He comes from a long line of furtive, odd gift givers. Envelopes with money. Weird jelly smelly candles. Strong hand soaps. I love them all, but their relationship with gifts is funny. Mine is not. I never remember how much I spend, I never worry about whether the gifts are “equal” and I never, ever hand it over shabbily wrapped.

    On Sunday morning, I’ll be frantically wrapping . . . and they’ll look great, because that’s my thing.

  19. NikiDee says:

    I always color coordinate my paper (when I don’t use craft paper… Gawd I love wrapping with craft paper). Sometime the sparkle can just be in the ribbon you use or even added to a wrapping paper you love but it just isn’t sparkly enough. Spraycan sparkle to the rescue!!

  20. Shauna says:

    I save all the brown packing paper from the many Amazon shipments we receive through the year and use that as wrapping paper for everything. I wrap with pretty baker’s twine. It’s too similar to what you’ve done in the past, but I’m thinking you’re going to have go with a bedazzle machine and lots of glitter. So much glitter that you have a glitter frenzy and it ends up in the floorboards of your home, so you’ll have sparkle all year long.

  21. Trissi V. says:

    Brown paper packages tied up with string,,,these are a few of my favorite things (why do I keep breaking out in song).

    I have paper bags from Whole Foods to wrap the Christmas stocking stuffers (they look at you weird when you grab a big bunch and run out the door screaming). Plan brown craft paper wrapping for the bigger items, which only one or 2 people will be getting (everyone gets their big gifts early ( I got mine in September).

  22. jj says:

    Oops- didn’t see that Shannon (Hi Shannon!) Had already suggested the Furoshiki!
    Great minds think alike!

  23. amy watson says:

    I do a real old fashioned Christmas tree every year, I have ornaments that are 35 yrs old, and handmade ones and special little things I do like pinecones and little apples and candy canes, but about 5 years ago I bought a very large roll of white butcher paper and a roll of brown craft paper…They will last me the rest of my life :) Si now I trade up one year white and the next brown with twine and greenery and tennt pinecones…This year I am doing white and going to stamp green Christmas trees on the paper and use pretty red ribbon and vintage gift tags…. I can’t wait, it will be gorgeous…and I am really excited about stamping all that white paper (not) , and I really want to find a pinecone stamp…any suggestions ??

  24. jj says:

    What about Furoshiki? The Japanese art of wrapping in cloth. Environmentally friendly, and you can use any variety of fun funky patterns and colors Here’s a wiki to tempt you: http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Furoshiki-(Wrap-and-Carry-Things-With-Square-Cloth) and some pinterest porn: https://www.pinterest.com/the_craftykitty/furoshiki/

  25. mia pratt says:

    You’re the coolest, gotta say – so much better than glitter glue or hologram bows.

  26. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Yeah..a big Bulgarian would be good..wrapped in burlap with a pretty sparkly bow..and a stocking full of bacon wraps..

  27. danni says:

    I print up tags for everyone on my computer on a simple progam like Publisher. I have NO idea who I am getting stuff for, so I make them for everyone. Not ‘to and ‘from’, they just say the person’s name, on the fancy printed side and then I write on the back when I actually get around to wrapping them. I make tons bc it doesn’t take much time, and they are cheap, cheap, cheap and make a lot that say “From Santa” with no name on them- for the people I will forget. I print them on card stock, whatever I have around, cut them out in front of Scandal, and then embellish them. Each year they are a different graphic, like a fancy oval border or a vintage santa, often vintage deer graphic, and I dot them with TINY amounts of glitter or whatnot. And then no matter how they are wrapped…. they are tied together. I add a few bells to the tags and I can tell you I have seen those gift tags used as ornaments on people’s trees years after the gift was given, so I think they make people feel special. So that was long. But maybe people haven’t thought of it and it is kinda fun and people just really like seeing their name in glitter. Duh.

  28. Sue says:

    The stocking is our favorite part of Christmas in our house also! So much so, that we have implemented a “birthday stocking” tradition too. I made a stocking out of bright colored (pink & orange) fabric with fun trimming on it and we use it for whoever’s birthday it is.

    • laura gerber says:

      Wow Sue – fantastic idea. This is why I like other people – they think of cool fun things that I can’t manage to think of for myself and then I can steal their ideas and pretend they are mine.

  29. Jane says:

    When my children were young, my mother got us started on homemade gift bags. We all made them and used them for years. It was fun to remember who originally made a bag as it passed through the family (except for one SIL who insisted on having her bags back – she is no longer part of the family).
    Sadly, they are long gone and I lazily reuse dollar store gift bags year after year. Though, there is something about a nicely wrapped gift and I saw some fabulous red plaid paper at IKEA – hmmmmmm.

  30. Feral Turtle says:

    Your calendar is keeping me in check. Gift wrap is easy as it is whatever was on clearance the year before! Heck sometimes its just garbage bags! I did wrap a picture this year for my wall though. Truth be told, I bought the picture at the thrift store,on the advice of my sister, painted the frame, and hate it, so I figured wrapping paper would cover the eyesore until I can figure out what else to do with it! I wish I had your ambition of beautiful wrapped gifts!

  31. Reg says:

    Oh dear. I haven’t thought about wrapping yet.
    I’ve got the Christmas cards all addressed and stamped ready to mail after Dec. 1st. Counts for something….right?

  32. Maggie V says:

    Instead of a theme just look at each person’s personality and wrap from there so that each recipient receives an gift wrapped to match them just like you pick a gift that suits just them alone. I am rambling but I think you get the picture. Just sayin

  33. Debbie says:

    I’ll wrap this up with two thoughts!

    One, I use the Sunday comics. Fun and “green” – and people like to see which comics they got.

    Two, I once did a recycling project picking up dry cleaning bags that folks kindly deposited in boxes that dry cleaners kindly let me set up in their stores. I collected the bags and brought them to a recycling plant. On one trip I found a HUGE roll of Frito Lay packaging – it must have had an error on it so it went to the recycling plant. I hit gold – I mean silver! One side was silver (what would be the inside of a bag), the other was what would be the outside of a chip bag. I snagged the roll and had wrapping paper for three years. I could use either side and the reactions were great!

    Three, yeah, I know I said two. My SIL is major “green”. She sewed huge cloth gift bags for her kids and ours and put their gifts in it. She collected the bags and reused them year after year. Each had their name on it. The kids loved reaching in for their gifts.

  34. karol says:

    I’m going with white craft paper and sparkly ribbon. My tree has all red, white, and silver ornaments and is so beautiful I can’t stand it. (yes, it is up) I want my ribbons to be as sparkly as my tree.
    BTW, if you need a man, you can have mine. He’s old and cranky and is bed by 7:15.

  35. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    Please ignore my typos…had not had coffee yet and did not check my typos. I cannot delete.

  36. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    So funny because I plans wrapping theme each year so all the gift look good under the tree. I buy one paper that I use for the “Santa” gift and a coordinating paper for gifts from us. Then I work on ribbons, bows, etc. It all look so pretty under the tree. This year, my theme is silver and white..well mostly silver and sparkly. I found great trims at Hobby Lobby and the Container Store and Target. I have never wanted to wrap in November but your darned pledge has me so organized that I actually already have most of the gifts ready to wrap. I cannot believe it but I am going to actually be done with all the work by December 1st!

    You should let us all send you a stocking stuffer to some nondescript address. It would give us JOY to give quirky lil something back to you on Christmas Day. I never thought of who fills the stocking if you live alone.

    • Susan says:

      I filled my own stocking when I lived alone. During the year I would buy small things that I wanted, but thought were things I didn’t really NEED and could live without, using something else I already had. I’d wrap them and stick them in a stocking in the closet. Then at Christmas I’d be delighted upon opening that stocking by all the thoughtful things my heart secretly wanted! I still do it, because my husband doesn’t know the exact pair of craft scissors I crave, or my completely irrational desire for irridescent paint medium so I can equally irrationally paint an under sea scene on one bedroom wall so I won’t feel so homesick for Hawaii, or the aquapen I want, even though I don’t do watercoloring (yet!). He’ll still put interesting and perfectly chosen things into my stocking, but my gifts fill in the nooks and crannies of the stocking with things I never would have mentioned to him, so he would never have known about them.

  37. Su says:

    Coordinated wrapping paper?? Matching tags and bows??? Way too stressful and I bet I’m the ONLY one in my merry band of loonies who would notice….. I buy paper 75% off the day or two after Christmas … I kinda like the mix of paper and patterns and stuff under the tree…. its festive!

  38. Shannon Floyd says:

    Ever tried furoshiki? What do you mean you haven’t heard of it!?! The Art of Wrapping with fabric, made popular in Japan, a little island where waste and landfills have no place to go. There are some awesome instructions online and hundreds of ways to wrap with fabric. In an effort to go green and not waste so much paper (esp with a family as large as ours!) I started this tradition a few years ago, now it’s part of my tradition to by a few more Christmas fabrics every year, and you can still personalize the bow!! Just a thought for something new to try!!

  39. Bre says:

    I have the wrapping sorted…HAD the wrapping sorted! I’m going with a vintage look with coloured tissue paper stamped with silver stars and tied with coloured string aka embroidery floss. I also picked up some coloured but blank tags. I will now add some pizazz and sparkle (and noise) by adding the noisemaker. The kids will love it and the parents and adults in my crowd are pretty fun loving, so I think they’ll appreciate them as well. What a great idea, Valerie! Thanks so much for sharing. I have 2 pairs of mitts to finish and the gifts will be done. I was a bit deflated after all the online shopping because there is the satisfaction of having a gift bought but no gratification of actually having it in my hands. Until this week! The packages and parcels are arriving daily and it’s more exciting than ever! I love getting mail and deliveries! And the the delivery guys haven’t been too bad either. No Bulgarians yet though. If one ends up on my doorstep, I’ll give him your contact info, Karen.

  40. Laura says:

    Tell me your Mom’s email address because I think you need a kitten to be in your Christmas stocking this year! Who can be bummed with a kitten in the room?!

    • Karen says:

      Forget the kitten, I just need the stocking, LOL! The stocking was always my favourite part of Christmas. :) Now that honour will go to what used to be my second favourite thing about Christmas … bacon wraps. ~ karen!

  41. Sarah says:

    I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I rarely even *start* my holiday shopping until the semester finally breathes its last breaths. That means that holiday wrapping is pretty low on my list. I am *that person* who shows up with gifts crammed into leftover, mismatched gift bags that once held booze of some sort. I once found some awesome wrapping paper in the clearance bin at Target on Christmas Eve. I probably should have paid a bit more attention to the pattern on the paper because–as my sister-in-law pointed out on Christmas morning–we’re not Jewish and the paper was clearly meant for Hanukah. Oops.

    I think this year I’ll just wrap everything in ungraded papers. Better yet, I’ll use graded papers. The worse the grade, the better (more red ink…. that’s festive, right?).


  42. Valerie says:

    Thank you Karen for reminding all of us about your creative ideas in the past, a few of which I will attempt this year.
    One year I purchased tea towels in which I wrapped my gifts. For larger gifts I added a running stitch attaching a few towels together with a wee card suggesting to pull the knotted end to open the gift. For the ladies on my list I used a sparkly hair clip in lieu of a bow and for the gentlemen a whistle to blow on New Year’s Eve. The towels, clips and whistles were all available at dollar store and in the end their cost was comparable to fancy holiday gift wrap.

  43. Marti says:

    Ya know Karen… down here in the lower 48, we have something called Online Dating websites. If you’re considering Bulgarians, maybe you should try eHarmony or Match.com or j-date or NextFella.com or something?

    Off to look at your etsy.com curated page…

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