8 Easy & Unique Ways to Wrap Gifts—Even Those Oddly-Shaped Ones

No more putting a gift card in a boring envelope

woman giving herself a pep talk before wrapping a huge dinosaur toy for christmas

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner 

The holiday season is a flurry of activity, from baking to decorating and, of course, buying the perfect gifts for family and friends. Once the presents have been purchased, it’s time to tie it all together and wrap things up before you deliver them and delight in their joy. 

Facing a mountain of items to wrap can seem daunting to be sure, but don’t fret. Tips abound on how to make things easier and more personal without a lot of effort. Check out this group of videos for a little holiday help. 

Try the Diagonal Wrapping Method

Last holiday season, videos of what is known as diagonal wrapping went viral on YouTube and other social media platforms, and it continues to be all the rage. Diagonal wrapping is just what it sounds like: Instead of placing your gift squarely in the middle of your wrapping paper, you turn it at an angle, about 45 degrees. This is very useful when it looks like your piece of wrap isn’t quite big enough to do the job. 

Rob Lee of New York-based online shop Justin’s Toys uses this trick often. “I used to have a toy store, and I wrapped gifts all day,” Lee says. “And customers would be mesmerized by wrapping that way, so I made a video to show how to do it. It saves paper and in my opinion, it’s a cleaner form of wrapping, more visually appealing.”

Make a Custom Bag for Oddly-Shaped Gifts

Some gifts just don’t work with traditional wrapping methods. You can, of course, always use a cute gift bag and some tissue paper and call it done. Or put the present in an appropriately sized box and wrap that. But what if all you have is wrapping paper? No worries. Heather Schisler, creator of PassionforSavings.com, can show you how to create your own, perfectly sized gift bag from wrapping paper you have around the house. 

“I actually came up with this trick when my kids were young and I had several odd-shape gifts like basketballs to wrap and I had run out of gift bags,” Schisler says. “Using wrapping paper to create a gift bag makes it easy to wrap any gift of any shape or size!”

Wrap With Fabric Instead of Paper

Out of paper completely? Consider using some fabric you have stashed in your craft kit to create a no-sew gift bag or wrap your gift in a tea towel or other re-usable item. 

Hester van Overbeek, creator of Hester’s Handmade Home, says she likes to use materials she already has or that she can re-use. She says, “The bandana I used (in the video) as gift wrap is a present in its own right, too, and other vintage thrifted scarves can be used, too. The fabric presents also look so cute under the tree!”

Upcycle Boxes and Use Eco-Friendly Kraft Paper & Tape

Sometimes the things right under your nose can be used in unexpected ways. Instead of buying a box to wrap a shirt or tie in, why not use an empty cereal box and wrap that in eco-friendly ways? Lindi Vanderschaaf, creator of LoveCreateCelebrate, likes to get a big roll of kraft paper and use that instead of regular wrapping paper because it is recyclable after the gift has been opened. And it’s cheaper to boot. She decorates her packages with fresh or faux greenery and beautiful string or leather cording. Then she saves those decorations to use again next year! 

“I’ve just become increasingly aware of the environmental effects of waste and plastics over the past year. I’ve slowly been making changes in our home to help reduce our footprint,  Vanderschaaf says. “For the wrapping itself, I just researched individual products to see which ones were more sustainable.”

Put a Bow on It

Twisted and primped ribbons undeniably add pop to plain presents. You could buy a big bag of the pre-made bows with stickers that almost never stay stuck. Or, you can check out this Bow Making 101 video by Julie Oxendine of Julie’s Wreath Boutique. The video shows, step by step, five ways to make a bow from simple to elaborate. Use one (or more!) to finish off your packages.

“When giving a gift from your heart, an important component is your thoughtfulness in its presentation,” Oxendine says. “It says that you want to show your love for that person. It doesn't have to be fancy, but that extra touch is so special. And for me, personally, it builds the excitement when I have a beautifully wrapped gift to give.”

Magazine Pages as Gift Wrap? Yes

If your gift is, say, a pair of earrings or something of similar size, look no farther than your old stack of magazines or unused scrapbook paper for wrapping.

Jewelry maker Heather Boyd has a cool idea of using the above-mentioned items to create a cute little pouch for gift-giving. It basically uses origami to fold the page into something that doesn't even need tape!

Boyd says, “Clients love the gift wrapping and also the blank cards with our artwork that they can reuse for gift giving.” 

Get Creative With Gift-Card Giving

One of the easiest gifts to buy is a gift card to a favorite coffee shop, store or restaurant. There is a high chance that the recipient is going to be able to make good use of such a practical present. Handing over a little cardboard card holder or an envelope of cash might be a sure bet, but it lacks any wow factor as far as presentation. 

Katie Fehlinger, of Katie Fehlinger DIY, has some imaginative ways to give these straightforward gifts a little punch. For a recent holiday, she gave gift cards to nieces and nephews but wanted them to still have something to open. So she came up with a way to make a big impression on her loved ones. Cash in a balloon, anyone? Now that adds pop!

An Inside Job

Santa Amazon can’t get the gift there in time? Try writing a holiday message on a little note and tucking it into an unusually wrapping. Kallie Branciforte, creator of butfirstcoffee.com, came up with the idea of turning a simple glass ball-type ornament into a sort of gift box. 

“I think it's fun to wrap things a little differently sometimes,” Branciforte says. "In my family, it's not always about the number of gifts, but more about the stories behind them and the experience. On Christmas Day, we like to take our time opening presents and so we would often wrap some things in different ways. Maybe we'd do a scavenger hunt or wrap a present in a box inside another box, etc. I think wrapping things in different ways can make us slow down on Christmas and remember to enjoy the process of gifting, as opposed to just ripping open boxes.”

Some Final Tips

Organization is key in everything, and gift-wrapping is no exception. Store your paper, bows, ribbons, tape and whatever else you use in one place so when it’s time to tackle the task, you don’t have to hunt all over the house. Or buy more supplies and then realize later you already have 15 rolls of paper in closets everywhere. 

And don’t forget to get the “glue” that holds many of these ideas together: Double-sided tape. Using that instead of the standard clear tape helps you create more polished edges that make you look like a pro.

When you have everything you need, find a spot where you can really spread out and be comfortable. Not someplace too comfy, like your bed or the couch. A hard surface like a table or the kitchen counter is important when wrapping, as it allows you more control over the finished look. Grab your gear, fire up your laptop, phone or tablet to watch these video tutorials and  make your holiday a little more merry. Your loved ones will be happy you did!