Creative Christmas wrapping tips to give your gifts wow-factor
Our expert tricks will make wrapping easier and your presents look (almost) too good to open
You probably want to go all-out to show the people you love how wonderful they are this Christmas. That doesn’t have to mean buying more, it could mean choosing fewer, more thoughtful presents and spending extra time making them look really special. If you’re reading this and shuddering at thoughts of wonky corners and tape stuck to everything but the wrapping paper, don’t worry: we’ll help you ace your present presentation.
To take the stress out of Christmas present wrapping, we’ve gathered top tips from Partner & Customer Support Assistant Taslima Tabassum (who’s been wrapping customers’ gifts at John Lewis for years), and Jane Means, author and wrapping expert. It’s easier than you think to make your gifts really look the business…
That’s a wrap
‘Start by choosing your paper, then pick a ribbon that coordinates or contrasts,’ says Taslima. ‘For Christmas, I love using gold paper with traditional red ribbon, or try a midnight blue for a modern twist – it’s just such an amazing shade. Avoid thin paper as it can tear on sharp edges. Quality paper is worth the extra cost as the thickness allows you to pull up the sides tightly, giving a good crease on the edges of a wrapped box. You’re looking to create a clean look.
'Place your gift upside down onto a sheet of paper, then bring up the sides to overlap,’ Taslima advises. ‘You want the edges of the paper to be on the underside of the gift, not the top, then fold in the corners.’
And if you can't find wrapping paper you like, there are always DIY options. ‘You can make your own Christmas wrap designs using plain brown craft paper,’ suggests Taslima. “Try gluing on pompoms for a quirky handmade feel or stamp a design onto the paper with a personalised stamper, which you can reuse for many Christmases to come.’
Think outside the box
Taslima loves the challenge of wrapping unusually shaped items. ‘I once wrapped a set of luggage,’ she laughs. If you’ve got an oddly-shaped present to contend with, boxing the gift first makes it far easier to wrap, especially if it’s something hand-made, like cookies or sweets. Boxes are also a great way of concealing what the present is if you think the shape might be an obvious giveaway.
A box isn’t your only option though for tricky shapes, you could also try a traditional gift bag or even a pretty fabric bag with a drawstring top, which you can still dress with a lavish bow and gift tag. Or, make the wrapping a part of the gift and use a festive tea towel and some twine or ribbon to wrap a cookbook, or a printed neck scarf tied up around a small box of jewellery.
Take a bow
If you’re running short of time and need to add impact with minimal effort, Taslima’s top tip is to focus on choosing a particularly lovely ribbon. ‘I like to layer a contrasting narrow ribbon over a wider one,’ she suggests.
‘You can always finish your gift with a ready-made ribbon bow too,’ agrees Jane, who suggests wrapping strings of pompoms or tinsel around your gifts instead of (or as well as) ribbon for a fun, tactile effect. Just wind a few lengths around the middle part of your present and tie or tape to secure.
This time, it’s personal
‘Tying a Christmas tree bauble into the ribbon on a gift makes it especially eye-catching,’ says Jane. Choose a complementary colour to match the wrapping paper or go one better and buy a bauble that best represents the person you’re gifting and see if they can guess who the present is for based on the decoration. As well as being a lovely thing for them to keep, ‘a decoration will also distract the recipient's eye from any untidy paper folding or messy tape,’ Jane suggests. ‘Try adding fresh greenery too to give some fragrance – laurel, bay, or rosemary work well and look beautiful tied with simple twine or brown string. If you’ve run out of gift tags, try writing names on fresh leaves in gold pen.’
For a personalised idea, why not print off a favourite photo or use a Polaroid of the lucky recipient and fasten it to your gift in place of a tag? Use a few wraps of ribbon or trim to hold it in place.
‘Wrapping cylindrical objects, then pleating the paper top and bottom always looks professional,’ says Taslima. ‘Begin by wrapping the paper around the cylinder, then – starting at the top – fold small equal sections into the middle, holding in place until complete, then securing with tape or a sticker.’
You could also wrap tubes to resemble crackers – wrap paper around the body, leaving enough excess to twist each end, using an elastic band to secure in place. Cover over the bands with ribbon and then cut the edges of the paper for a frayed effect.
Invest in the basics
There are a few essentials that will make wrapping easy. ‘Double-sided sticky tape is a must for attaching decorative bows, pompoms and foliage, and for keeping the corners of your paper in place without visible tape – it’s the most important thing for making your gifts look really special,’ explains Taslima.
‘I always cut ribbon ends to a point to look smart,’ shares Jane, ‘and I keep a piece of ribbon tied to my fabric scissors, so I can keep them sharp by making sure they’re only used ever to cut ribbon.' Masking tape can also be handy if you don’t have an extra pair of hands to help hold corners down as you wrap – it can be gently peeled away once the double-sided sticky tape is in place.
‘Stock up on tissue paper and bubble wrap too,’ Taslima continues. ‘I always use colourful tissue paper as it adds to the sense of occasion, over a layer of bubble wrap to protect the most fragile items.’