It’s the holiday season, you found the perfect gift, you celebrate said perfect gift with a night out with your girlfriends, and now it’s time to go home and turn that perfect present into a beautifully wrapped gift. It’s time to break out the gift-wrapping essentials.
For some people, myself included, gift wrapping is a joy. We have our perfectly curated gift wrapping station all set up with beautiful paper rolls and a gorgeous custom gift tag set from Minted. Guilty.
For others, gift wrapping can be intimidating, and out comes the stash of gift bags hoarded from the previous year. I’ve been there and can feel your pain if you’re in this camp.
When it comes to wrapping, the Girl Scouts motto says it best, “Be Prepared,” especially during the holiday hustle and bustle. If you keep some basic supplies on hand, impromptu baby showers and kids’ birthdays won’t throw you in terms of wrapping that gift.
So today, I’m sharing all of my favorite gift-wrapping essentials. From basic tools to help you get the job done, the supplies you really need in your wrapping station, and the things to keep on hand to tie up those Christmas presents in a bow.
What Are The Gift Wrapping Essentials?
The short answer: wrapping paper, scissors, tape, ribbon, gift tag. That’s it and truly all you need. You don’t need fancy gift bags or cutters. These are the basics and will get you by just fine.
The long answer to “What are the gift wrapping essentials?” is best said by the band Kansas, “Carry on my wayward son” and let’s dive into it.
Gift Wrapping Supplies
You really don’t need a lot of gift-wrapping supplies to wrap beautifully. It’s amazing how a roll of brown kraft paper and colorful yarn can go. But you do need some basic holiday gift wrap essentials.
Rolls of Wrapping Paper
I prefer rolls to wrapping sheets. They’re easier to store, more readily available, and often less expensive than wrapping sheets. Although I’ve been one to splurge on fancy Rifle Paper wrapping sheets occasionally. Rolls also don’t have creases in them from folding which are often hard to get out when wrapping a present larger than the main area of the sheet.
Wrapping paper is also the first place to choose your color scheme. Mix wrapping paper roll patterns within your color scheme along with some kraft paper, which comes in many different colors, to stretch out a tight budget.
Quality does matter when choosing paper. Cheaper paper is often thinner and tears more easily when cutting. Thankfully, most rolls of wrapping paper at Target are thicker paper.
Shameless plug for our DIY wrapping paper storage rack if you’re looking for more details on how we made this simple rack. It’s made out of scrap wood and wooden dowels and is easy enough to make in an afternoon.
Keep a stash of some pretty basic, generic gift tags that can go with just about anything. This is your main stash of gift tags to be used all year round. Then add in some holiday season-specific tags to use for dressing up some of the packages.
You can even make your own super simple gift tags by using a gift tag punch with some colorful card stock paper.
Ribbons and Bows
Gorgeous spools of ribbon might be the best part of gift wrapping, especially for the finishing touches. A fun ribbon can take basic brown paper packages and dress them up by adding pattern or texture. Keep a variety of ribbons on hand by picking up your favorites all year long, at the thrift store or if you see one that catches your eye.
If you’re a ribbon recycler like me you probably also have wire baskets filled to the brim with ribbons and bows pulled off packages from holidays of yore. I personally prefer ribbons to bows since they are easier to reuse year over year making for a more budget and eco-friendly wrapping session.
Word of advice heading into a big wrapping session, just make sure that you have enough ribbon in a variety of sizes. I always keep a few big rolls of curling ribbon, one each in white and red, that gets me through in a pinch if I run out of ribbon.
My favorite keep-it-simple tip, pick one color of ribbon in two different sizes and tie up every gift with that ribbon. For example, use a white ribbon on every package. This helps tie your color scheme together while reducing decision fatigue. Because that’s a thing when wrapping.
Tissue Paper and Packing Paper
Plain white tissue paper is a great addition to your wrapping station because it’s so universal and goes with everything. No need for holiday-specific tissue paper here. It’s great and all, but if you want to keep it simple go with white.
This is one of the few times when it pays to be a hoarder. I save and reuse tissue paper and packing paper all year long because it’s eco-friendly and saves me some money. As it comes into our house with gifts or packages, I simply fold it up and tuck it in the tissue paper basket underneath my craft room desk. It’s been many years since I’ve bought tissue paper.
Tape is absolutely necessary for gift wrapping and the tape you choose matters. Hear me out as I climb up onto my soapbox for a moment.
So what is the best gift-wrapping tape to use? Glad you asked! It’s the Scotch Giftwrap tape, the one in the purple packaging. Why is it my favorite? Because it hides on just about every type of gift wrap. It’s also strong, smooth, and easy to use.
Another favorite tape to keep handy is double-sided tape since sometimes those gorgeous, glittery papers don’t like tape. Double-sided tape can help secure paper, recycled bows, gift tags, and more.
Let’s also talk about packing tape. So handy, especially for those of you who have a lot of packages to ship or you’re reusing Amazon boxes as gift boxes and some of them need repairs.
I heard on a podcast the other day that using Amazon boxes as gift boxes is a faux pas. What?! Meanwhile, I’m over here the Oprah of Amazon boxes and “You get an Amazon box and you get an Amazon box.” I will give gifts in Amazon boxes until the day I die or until the conglomerate goes under. We both know which will happen first. Speaking of gift boxes…
Keeping a stash of a variety of different-sized gift boxes in your own gift-wrapping station is handy since you may run out of Amazon boxes (ha!). Buy a few packs for less than a dollar each in the post-Christmas sale at Target since they always have them left over, and keep them on hand for when you need one.
Do you remember as a kid when you just knew that you were getting clothes, yet again, for Christmas because you recognized the clothes gift boxes? Raise your hand. Sometimes I’ll mess with my husband and package his annual underwear gift in a (you guessed it) Amazon box instead of a clothing gift box. He’ll never guess what’s in it! I’m so sneaky!
Even as a self-proclaimed gift-wrapping lover and aficionado, I still use the occasional gift bag because sometimes time is not on your side and you just have to toss it in a bag and go. If gift bags are your thing, more power to you. They are handy and can make last-minute gift wrapping a breeze.
Gift Wrapping Accessories and Tools
Now let’s dive into the tools and accessories that make gift wrapping a breeze. From a heavy duty tape dispenser to the perfect pair of scissors.
A nice, solid, heavy tape dispenser is clutch for gift wrapping. Why? Let me paint a picture.
You’re mid-present wrapping, you’ve folded a perfectly sharp crease that you’re holding down precariously with one hand, mentally pats self on back for being a genius wrapper. Then you reach for the tape. It’s a comes-with-the-tape-roll-style dispenser. You try to grab a piece of tape one-handed. Huh, it’s not working. So holding down the fold with your left hand, you tuck the dispenser under your chin and try to peel off a piece of tape with your right hand. Inevitably you cut your chin with the tape dispenser.
Save your chin and get a heavy-duty tape dispenser that stays in place in your wrapping zone while you cut off piece after piece of tape one-handed.
Same thing goes with a solid tape dispenser for packing tape. Don’t mess with the cheap throw-away versions. Invest in a a good packing tape dispenser if you ship alot. I have the Scotch Heavy Duty Packing Tape Dispenser and still love it. I bought in my Etsy days and have packed thousands of packages with this thing.
A good pair of scissors is the only tool you really need for gift wrapping. They’ll cut down a roll of wrapping paper, curl ribbons, and trim a tag. I love a pair of heavy scissors but most people gravitate towards the comfort grip.
If you’re feeling bougie and use a lot of fabric ribbon, splurge for a really great pair of fabric shears. They’re next level when it comes to cleanly cutting that gorgeous satin ribbon at the perfect angle. Make sure to label them “fabric scissors…do not take,” since they will inevitably be stolen by the other occupants of your home.
There’s no real need for a fancy wrapping paper cutter. But if you do go for one…
Wrapping Paper Cutter
I have tried many wrapping paper cutters. I keep thinking there is a magically easy one out there that will make my paper-cutting dreams come true.
Hands down, my favorite is the Fiskars gift wrap cutter. I had this one for years and it disappeared this fall. Let’s just say I have two small children who perpetually steal things from my craft room.
When I went to order a new one, it was on backorder and expected to arrive on December 28th. I picked up what I thought was the same style of cutter, but it wasn’t as heavy-duty as the Fiskars and didn’t work as well. Fingers crossed the replacement comes before Christmas!
While not a necessity, a few fancy pens are fun for Christmas wrapping. I have a couple of pen varieties that I swear by.
One, is the Sakura Micron Fine Line Pens for when you need to write small. I use these for writing messages on our Christmas cards, addressing envelopes, and gift tags. They’re also great for baby books if you’re in the market for an archival pen.
Two, the LePen extra fine pens. These come in all the colors of the rainbow and are extra fun during the holidays to write or draw on gift tags. I need to pick up a red and green one before Christmas rolls around.
And That’s A Wrap
See what I did there? Who am I kidding, you always see what I did there!
Now that you’re armed with my favorite gift wrapping essentials, the tools, supplies, tips, and tricks, you’re ready to dive into this holiday season like a seasoned wrapping pro.
Pssst…Tell me, what are your favorite wrapping supplies or tools? Do you also have a favorite pen?!