In the era of Amazon—where a gift arrives in a cardboard box with a “personalized” note printed across a packing slip—receiving a hand-wrapped gift, especially when accompanied by a handwritten card, feels extra special.
Amid the pandemic, it’s not only important to support local shops when perusing holiday presents but, after months of isolation, we could all benefit from putting more thought and creativity into what we give one another. Plus, let’s face it: What else are we going to do with all this time at home?
Over the years, I’ve participated in many a workshop and photo shoot where I’ve watched some of the most talented prop stylists create magic on set. This has taught me practical tools I can pull from the pages and into real life. Enter DIY holiday gift-wrapping, a fun endeavor for anyone who’s drawn to natural shapes and textures and enjoys playing with a glue gun. I especially like the simplicity of this style and continue to play with different designs each year.
First, you’ll need to go on a scavenger hunt. Outdoors, collect ornaments like pinecones, twigs, seashells and even small stones. At your local grocer or farmers market, gather cinnamon sticks, eucalyptus (it’s not only pretty but adds a delicious earthy fragrance too) and citrus fruits like lemon, lime and blood oranges. (Slice the citrus and bake in a single layer at 200 F for two hours or until dry.)
Then, wrap your gift box in burlap or craft paper. I prefer plain beige paper, but if you (or your recipients) love color, add a pop with a fun print. You can even have kids create their own drawing or painting on the paper, or a stamp collage.
Next, use thick twine to tie a neat, traditional cross; for a perfectly imperfect look, wrap the twine around the box several times and tape it.
Last, fire up your glue gun and lay out a design. For each present, pick objects in varying sizes—such as large pinecones, medium-sized citrus wheels and small twigs—and play with the arrangement until you find one you like. Starting with the larger pieces, squirt a bit of glue onto the back and hold it against the paper for a few seconds. Repeat until you’ve used all the pieces, adding the smallest objects last.
For those who appreciate a more ornate than organic look, simply swap ingredients: bold paper, colorful ribbon or string, and even potpourri, which “presents” an array of fun shapes and a customized scent.
Of course, a present should be custom designed for your recipient. While I find this simple look most elegant, some call for a bit more flair. Dress it up with print paper or colorful ribbon. Swap potpourri for other ornaments like flowers or tiny toys. I find gift boxes are much more fun than gift bags, but if you’re wrapping in a hurry, try fastening a bundle of greens to the handle or side.