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Photo by Mariah Wilson

Three gift wrapping tips and tricks

By Mariah Wilson, December 21 2019 —

Buying gifts for everyone on your list is hard enough, but it’s a whole ‘nother story to wrap your gifts to a Pinterest-standard of artistry. Between odd-shaped packaging and bows that have seen better days, it’s hard to nail the presentation. But don’t fear — we’ve got some tips and tricks that will make gift wrapping bearable and dare I say, enjoyable, this holiday season.

Put odd-shaped packages in boxes:

Some of the most difficult things to wrap are electronics. I can’t count the number of times the razor-sharp edges of the plastic packaging or the jagged protrusions from an oddly-shaped toy have completely torn my wrapping paper, mid-wrap. These items are frustrating to work with and their wrapping never looks good underneath the Christmas tree. 

Instead, I recommend finding a recycled box that leaves for about an inch of room on all sides of the gift as well as using tissue paper to cushion it. Once you feel your gift is secure in its bed of tissue paper, tape the lid to the box on all four sides to ensure that everything stays put while you wrap it. This is also a great tip for any clothing or accessories that have a hard shape to work with. Also when buying clothes, make sure to ask for a clothing gift box as most stores have them on-hand for free.   

Pick a theme:

Photo by Mariah Wilson

You want your wrapping job to stand out from the crowd — but not as an eyesore. Going wild with red and green or using tinsel galore is not a great theme to work with. For a simple design and traditional look, I recommend buying brown craft paper with red twine and adding sprigs of pine or mistletoe as embellishments for a traditional look. To mimic a winter wonderland, use white, silver and blue. I would slightly change up the design of each package so that you can have alternating accent colours and decorations. If your gifts need to look like they’re straight from Santa’s workshop, I’d recommend either buying tasteful patterned paper with a strong accent colour or playing off the combination of red and gold.

If you’re having a hard time finding cohesive embellishments and wrapping paper that fit into one pattern, I would recommend visiting Walmart or Canadian Tire where you can find thematic gift wrapping sets with all of the bells and whistles you’ll need. And, if you find ribbons and bows passé, then you can head to your local dollar store or a Michael’s where you’ll find an array of Christmas baubles, ornaments and bells that will spruce up your gift wrapping. 

Measure out your wrapping paper:

I cannot stress this enough — the cardinal rule of gift wrapping is to be meticulous. After preparing your gifts for wrapping and picking a non-clichè theme, the next and ultimately most important step is to wrap them with the appropriate amount of paper. Using too much paper is wasteful and using too little can cause huge holes in your presentation, with ugly patch jobs being used to keep the present a secret from prying eyes. 

Make sure that you start on a clean, flat surface — a kitchen table or countertop free of crumbs, stickiness and other related food messes is ideal. Roll a portion of your wrapping paper out and place your item in the middle of the section. Gently fold over the free sides of the wrapping paper to see if the wrapping paper reaches the middle of the gift — note any sides that aren’t shaped the same. Move the item around accordingly until each side is even and reaches just over the middle of the gift. Now, cut the wrapping paper so that it’s the same length on the uncut side as it is on the free side that you were using to measure. Afterward, you should have a piece that fits your object perfectly, with a little wiggle room. If the sides that you fold into a seam are too long, simply pinch them and cut off the excess paper.

Bonus: sustainable gift wrapping tips:

  • Always try to reuse bows, ribbons and other decorative supplies from previous years. Most of these items will continue to look great for years to come. When they’ve finally reached their lifespan, they can be recycled through Calgary’s blue-bin program.
  • Ditch wrapping paper completely and use an old tote bag or a reusable wrapping bag. Now, your two-in-one gift will pay it forward by giving the receiver something to reuse for their own gift giving. Kudos to you if you can sew your own reusable wrapping bag from old fabric lying around. 
  • Cut out the graphics and artwork from old Christmas cards to use as present tags. You can hole punch the top, add twine and place them underneath the bow.


Photo by Mariah Wilson

Using scrap gift wrap from complimentary styles can add a nice touch to any gift. Fold down both sides of the strip to ensure that the edges are crisp and smooth.

Photo by Mariah Wilson

Using bolder, patterned gift wrap can be a nice way to break up the monotony of gifts wrapped in similar patterns. Make sure to pair it with equally fun ribbons and decorations for a truly whimsical look.

Photo by Mariah Wilson

Craft paper is always my go-to for a clean and timeless look. To make it pop, I added scrap gift wrapping paper and paired it with matching ribbon and a shiny bow for the finishing touch. Remember that less is always more.

Photo by Mariah Wilson

Pairing up different textures and colours of ribbons can work well when you have a smaller gift wrapped in vibrant, bold paper. I matched my ribbons with complimentary colours in the wrapping paper pattern — I went for colours that weren’t dominant so that the gift receiver isn’t overwhelmed by the colour palette.

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