Friday, November 25, 2011

A Gift-Wrap Philosophy: Part One

Simplicity takes a lot of work. Stripping something down to its essentials, making the essentials look interesting and pretty, and getting a design's balance just right take time, patience, and perseverance.

Sometimes, however, the design gods hand you an idea so simple and quick that you wonder what the heck took you so long to figure it out.

After years of fretting over gift wrap, I've hit upon a minimalist philosophy so simple and so perfect that I'm sure I can't be the first to hit upon it.

The philosophy can best be summed up by the equation T + R + WP = FABULOUS, where T is a simple, colorful tag, R is coordinating ribbon, and WP is white paper.

Papertrey Mendhi Medallion, Hero Arts sentiment

The first sample is a tag I made months ago and shared already, but I combined it with a red ribbon edged in I bought to use years ago and never did.

Papertrey Holiday Treats

This tag shows how those nugget label stamps can be used as borders on small tags. For this tag, I'll write the name of the recipient on the front, rather than the back. In brown ink to match the gingerbread man!

Hero Arts

Rick-rack or other interesting trim can add interest to a super-simple tag.

Papertrey Holly Jolly

For someone special, add bling to the tag. Yes, it will end up in the trash, but seriously, it's Christmas. That green satin ribbon is so soft and rich-feeling, it just demanded a blinged-up tag.

Papertrey Sign Language

Tags can be any shape or size you want. Here, I took left-over strips of cardstock and turned them into long, narrow tags using simple images and bling. The white ribbon with its red stitching was the perfect accompaniment!

What are the advantages of this philosophy? Well, let's count them.

1. You only ever need to buy white wrapping paper, although if you want some variety, kraft wrapping paper will work well, too.

2. You can express your creativity through the tag, getting as fancy or as personalized as you want. Plus, you can use odd scraps of cardstock for your tags.

3. Christmas tags can double as ornaments, too!

4. You can use up that massive stash of ribbon you have sitting there, being hoarded. Or you can buy spools of ribbon when they are discounted and let the ribbon inspire your tags.

5. No more searching for baby wrapping paper or kid birthday wrap or Mother's Day wrap or graduation wrap at the last minute. All you have to do is make sure you have stamps for every occasion, which, let's face it, is HUGELY more fun.

6. If you keep a stash of white gift bags in assorted sizes and tissue paper (either white or assorted color packs as you prefer), the ribbons and tags work equally well for awkwardly-sized or hard-to-wrap gifts.

7. This style of gift wrap lends itself to additional embellishment if time and inclination allow. Adding pine-cones, jingle bells, sprigs of holly or picks of artificial fruit, foliage, berries, etc., to Christmas packages, party favors to birthday gifts, and such work well. But only if you want to embellish.

What are the disadvantages of this philosophy? Well, there's only one I can think of, and that's finding good white wrapping paper that is opaque enough. Perhaps one of you has a suggestion, but the the white at HL and M's can be seen through, so when necessary, I've started wrapping a strip of it around the gift box first, then wrapping the gift.

But I'd much rather have truly opaque white paper to wrap gifts.

What do you think of this Clean and Simple Gift-Wrap Philosophy?


  1. Great post Susan. I switched to white wrapping paper years ago - what a lifesaver! I picked up a huge roll from a merchants paper supply place - they sell paper goods to retailers and this wrapping paper is the heavy weight kind you would find in a high end store. With different ribbons I've packaged gifts for all occasions using this white paper. My sister does the same thing, only using the brown kraft paper!

  2. I've had luck with the white rolls of 'art supply' paper that they sell for kids. I lucked out finding several rolls of it on sale a couple of years ago, and unfortunately the label is long gone. The advantage there is that should it not be opaque enough, the kids can draw on it :)
    Love this post, Susan - and I think I know how I'm wrapping all my grown-up presents this year!

  3. Okay...blogger just did something wonky, so I will try this again!
    I use rolls of kraft paper (I love my kraft) and the rolls of paper you buy at IKEA for you kids art easels. It is not a bright white, but more of a vintage cream. I like the darker flecks found in the paper, too. It is super cheap! I stocked up a couple years ago and still have plenty for me and the boys. :)

  4. I think your philosophy is brilliant! After my son gets older maybe I can go this route. I like to use shiny wrapping paper to add to the whole "magical" feeling. When the tree lights are on and the shiny paper is reflecting the lights it makes such a pretty "sparkle". However; your way is much more practical, saves time as you said, PLUS does give you the excuse of collecting stamps for every occasion.
    NO clue about where to get heavy weight white wrapping paper. Stamping Up! sold a roll one year when they pushed the idea of using their wheels to design your own. I still have mine and have used it off and on. Good luck with your search!

  5. I love your philosphy. I have big rolls of kraft and white art paper. I use the kraft when I need it to be more opaque. I did splurge on a jumbo roll of sparkly paper at Costco that will last me forever, just something about sparkly paper under the tree...
    I have a hard time using my good ribbon and craft stash on gift wrap that will just end up in the I really like your idea of pretty tags that double as Christmas decorations.
    For gift bags I have been using the reusable shopping bags, usually just 99 cents at retailers like Walmart, and they have pretty seasonal ones.

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea!!! Why have I not thought of it sooner!!! Now... off to shop for white AND kraft paper by the roll... I'll be checking back to see if anyone has found it at a store near me!!! FABULOUS!!! Thank you!!!

  7. I have some lovely "white" kraft wrapping paper - solves the opacity issue. Comes in gold and silver in the UK too.

  8. Love the tags and the idea of white or kraft wrapping paper to go with them. Perfect way to have the tag shine - after all it is the thing you put the work into :) No clue where you can get the white wrapping paper, but I'm sure you could Google it and find some suppliers - or ask some schools where they get their great big rolls of paper.

  9. LOVE.T + R + WP = FABULOUS. I.must.try/remember.this. Thank you!

  10. Brilliant idea!! When I've used up the gift wrap I already have, I think I'll switch to T+R+WP.

  11. I love all your tags, as well as your gift wrapping philosophy. I think I'll try it. It will look much more sophisticated than what I am doing now.

  12. Happy Thanksgiving a day late! Your tags from yesterday and today are all so terrific. Simplicity, indeed! Your gift wrap philosophy is excellent. I especially like that it is "Part One." :)) This means there will be a Part Two. I do think your work is FABULOUS! Thanks so much for sharing it with your fans.


  13. I tried a variation of this idea many years ago using kraft wrap and plaid ribbon for Christmas. My sister asked me if we were too poor for wrapping paper. Anyway, I think your idea for simple wrap/tags is wonderful, especially since I don't always have the right kind of gift wrap on hand. Thanks for sharing.

  14. love this idea. Think I may use this for grown up presents, and use up my old wrapping paper on the kids, as they just rip it off anyway!!

  15. Awesome ideas, Susan! I already simplified my wrapping paper a few years ago, buying only white, gold, and red. But I'm almost out of the gold and red, so I think that I'll simplify some more and go with just white and maybe kraft. I have so much hoarded ribbon that I could wrap gifts for the next hundred years easily!

  16. I think it's a great idea! I have used kraft colored gift bags with the same success. Periodically, I will have a solid colored gift bag and am easily able to match it to some ink or paper I have in my stash and thus make a tag for it too!

  17. Love this idea, so simple yet so effective. Once my shop bought paper has been used, I shall be doing mine like this too! Thank you for sharing your idea.
    Vicki x

  18. You have indeed hit on a fabulous system. That first tag of yours with the medallion has me coveting that stamp; it is so intricate and pretty.

  19. I like your gift wrap philosophy. It would certainly simplify gift wrap. I would definitely consider it with the exception of Christmas/winter wrap. I am a sucker for printed wrapping paper and I don't expect that to change! To simplify tags for such, several years ago, I began using only die cut, kraft or white tags. I embellish them with complimentary stamps, die-cuts, ink, sparkles, trim, ribbon, and sometimes I use the gift wrap (i.e. cut-out part of the design, die cuts, strips, etc.) on the tag to create an embellishment. I limit myself to two different papers per season. I do most all of my wrapping the week before Christmas. I make the tags in advance (as in next week) so that I have them on hand for pre-Christmas Eve/Day gift-giving. The best white opaque paper I have used in the past, I bought from my local butcher. It is flat not glossy, however, the moisture resistant coating on the inside, makes it opaque. I buy it by the yard, however, he has offered to sell me a whole "roll" if I want it. If you don't have a local butcher shop, whatever "chain" supermarket you go to, would probably be able to sell you some so you can try it. To simplify other wrapping, I will definitely be switching to white or kraft ... or either/or. Great idea/suggestion. Happy wrapping! :)

  20. I love the idea of white or kraft paper, but have found it hard to find. Uline sells butcher paper and kraft in many sizes and I know it will last forever if I can get over the initial cost, plus shipping.

  21. Great idea! Tag #1= my favorite. It is scrumptious! Now, where do I get white wrapping paper? Hmmm. I am liking the butcher paper idea from Gabby. Have a great weekend!

  22. I agree with the meat wrapping paper. Heavy weight, non see through, can be purchased in a roll, and shiny. All pros! My husband had suggested that to me before I checked your answers. Loved that idea.

  23. Reading about kraft paper has given me the idea of using paper grocery bags as wrapping for my very *green* daughter. I can stamp it and it can still be recycled when Christmas is over!
    Thanks Susan!

  24. Sam's Club 18" x 1000ft. roll of butcher paper is 18.42. I bet Costco carries it too.

  25. I am such a wrapping paper addict. I love the papers from The Container Store - very high quality.

    I love your work!

  26. I agree with you, these are fabulous!
    Thanks for the great tips. I really
    feel uplifted by simplicity in all
    aspects of life.

  27. AmpleStamper/LexingtonLuralynNovember 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    You are brilliant, woman! When I used to have more time on my hands, I LOVED wrapping gifts, but now it seems I am always slammed for time and wrapping at the last minute! Just what I need: added stress!! I have purchased tons of wrapping paper and tend to hoard it, agonizing over what to use for the size and shape of the gift and the recipient, to say nothing of matching odd colors of ribbon to the right paper! I will try to use up much of my stash this Christmas and try your plain paper method in the coming year. Thanks for your thoughtful and creative posts; I love reading your blog!

  28. Am I the lone dissenter? :)
    I can't possibly explain to you (and all the others) just how much *joy* I get from wrapping things beautifully. I'm a bit of a paper hoarder (ok, more than a bit) and a ribbon hoarder AND a bow hoarder. I couldn't possibly admit that there's a problem! ;)
    I guess for me it makes me feel like Christmas really happens when the wrapping is over the top. Maybe it comes from all the disappointing presents I got from my family when younger (my grandmother had an "eclectic" style). My stepdad was the first to really make wrapping presents a joy instead of a chore... he doubled, tripled, even quadruple wrapped ribbons in fanciful ways. The back/bottom always looked like something the cat dragged in - but the front!
    And, honestly, while I can appreciate the look of simplicity, my little magpie soul craves color. Hubby says my mexican is showing! :D

  29. Wow a terific post and love the tags especially the first one using the medalion stamp stunning Luv Sue x

  30. I love these tags, so simple and elegant! ... Your quest for plain white wrapping paper reminds me of a friend who wrapped everyone's gifts in the same paper -- probably white or kraft -- and then used a different color of gift wrap yarn for each person. ... If you can't find a source for "butcher" paper, try freezer wrap in the grocery store. At least the quantity is smaller than if you had to buy it wholesale.


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