That’s when it’s time to give your packages that special finishing touch using bows, tags, gift toppers and other goodies. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Ribbons & bows
Using the same type of ribbon is one attractive way to unify packages wrapped in different papers.
To distinguish identically wrapped presents, vary the color, width, and texture of the ribbons.
Check out the sales bins at craft stores for yarn, rickrack, ball fringe and other inexpensive ribbon alternatives.
Try using part of a tinsel garland in place of ribbon or string.
Raffia can add a really nice accent to your packages, and it is usually pretty inexpensive. Cut a bunch of 6″ to 10″ pieces and form a thick bow. Fluff up and attach to your packages with a glue gun.
Skip wallet-busting ribbons and bows. You can buy a giant roll of red and white baker’s twine for as little as $5.
With a little scissor work, basic self-adhesive bows are transformed into blossoms. For each “flower,” cut the loops of one small bow and one large bow at an angle. Then affix the small bow to the empty center of the large bow. Coil a short length of matching ribbon; place coil in center of the small bow, and secure with double-sided tape. Showcase a single bloom, or pair with more matching ribbon.
String, yarn, and even the one odd shoestring in the junk drawer can bring a unique touch to a gift package.
Remember that ribbons, bows and tags can get crushed in a stack of gifts, so don’t add them until you’re ready to put the gifts under the tree or otherwise unveil the presents.
Reuse and recycle! Be sure to save ribbons and bows to reuse next year.
Flower power: Cut card stock into petal shapes and adhere them to your gift in the shape of a flower. Then, use complementary colored and patterned tapes to embellish the petals and illustrate the flower stem. Add additional petals directly on the box as a finishing touch.
Get some help from Mother Nature: Use greenery, colorful leaves, berries or pinecones from your own yard to embellish gifts. Glitter spray adds a shiny touch to pinecones and even plain paper.
Baubles on top: Tie on inexpensive knickknacks and trinkets like costume jewelry, candy, little keepsakes, shiny ornaments and small toys.
Don’t throw away scraps of paper or holiday cards. Use the small bits of of wrapping paper as decorative bands to wrap around plain boxes.
Jingle bells: Save bits of ribbons, seam binding, and twine, along with decorative fruit, silk leaves, and miniature Christmas ornaments for adorning packages. A little sprig of tinsel, holly or faux cranberries will also make a nice holiday touch.
Decorate with a familiar face. Print or copy a photo onto heavyweight paper. Then, says Martha Stewart, wrap your package with a wide band of ribbon, and secure the photo to the ribbon with double-sided tape, . You can use the photos to identify the giver or the getter, or attach one favorite photo to all your presents.
Tie one on: Instead of using ribbon, tie up a package with long, thin items — a scarf, new belt, necktie, dog leash, bungee or measuring tape.
Bonus goodies: Embellish a package with small, useful items that relate to the gift. Examples: Tie a whisk on a set of mixing bowls, put a cookie cutter or two on cookie sheets, or add a magnifying glass to an atlas. (This is a particularly good strategy if the topper is tough to wrap or won’t physically fit very well with the main gift.)
Use a permanent marker to label your gifts by writing directly on the wrapping paper — it’s easy, fast, and won’t fall off. If you need a contrast on a dark paper, pick up one that dispenses metallic ink in silver, gold or copper.
And if you have a permanent marker or metallic pen on hand, a small Christmas ornament can become a personalized gift tag.
Print black-and-white photos of family and friends, and tape them to gifts wrapped in bright-colored solid gift-wrap paper. The photos can serve as gift tags so the recipient can be easily identified.
Recycle old greeting cards, pasting the fronts on a construction paper or other heavy paper. Make them simple tags, or into small foldover cards.
Use extra scraps of wrapping paper to create simple foldover cards that you can tape on to your package. (Use a different color paper to the main wrap, so the tag is easy to find.)
Get creative! Put extra things you have around the house — like buttons, board game pieces, stickers — to use on top of a gift.
Seed packets make a colorful gift tag for a friend or family member with a green thumb.
You can make your own gift tags by using the backs of old business cards. Cut out pictures or words from old magazines, and paste them on the gift card to make it festive. Voilà! Your own customized gift tag.
Gift tags are all the sweeter when they happen to be crisp cookies, says Martha Stewart. To make them, cut gingerbread dough into shapes or letters, punch with a small hole for threading with cord, and bake. The cookies can be eaten while the unwrapping takes place, or hung on a tree as ornaments.