Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brown Paper Packages: Wrapping Your Gifts For Free

Earlier this week, I shared a few ideas over at Type A Decorating about wrapping gifts for free. In case you missed it, I thought I'd repost it here. While you're visiting, I also would LOVE if you popped over to this post and entered the awesome giveaway from Ramsign. The winner will be drawn on Saturday - maybe it will be you!

The holidays are my favourite. But they can also be expensive, and expensive = stressful. This year, we're making extra efforts to be cost conscious so we avoid any of that how-much-are-we-really-spending anxiety. Today, I'll show you how we have spent ZERO dollars wrapping our gifts while still creating pretty parcels. It is super quick & easy, and you can totally do it too. 
I'll give you the complete how-to, but here's where to start. Gather supplies like brown paper lunch bags, paper shopping bags (brown or any colour), ribbon scraps from other projects or gifts you've received, a sharpie or other inky pen, a stapler, stamps & ink if you have them, and anything that can be used as an embellishment (more on that in a moment). Here's some of my supplies:
The trick to this is to think outside the box and use whatever you happen to have lying around... 

For example, I had purchased a few new sweaters at Esprit and, before discarding the tags, thought they could be repurposed as easy gift tags. I gave them a quick trim, and voila (the top one is my gift tag, the bottom one is the store's original tag):
Later, I used stamps and a sharpie to dress 'em up. Here's how it looked mid-process.
But let's get to wrapping. This is part 1 of my ideas-to-wrap-your-gifts-for-free. I have a bunch of other ideas, but they'll have to wait until I do some more shopping. Today is wrapping tiny things, like ornaments and bath sets. And how to do so very quickly when you have or are otherwise preoccupied :)
To wrap a few simple small gifts I made use of some regular brown paper bags (the kind you use for lunches and such). Brown paper bags, if you don't already have them on-hand, are easily the cheapest gift bags you will purchase. You can find them in big multi-packs at the grocery, craft or dollar store.

With those and some embellishments, along with my trusty alphabet stamps I got to work [If you wondered, the stamps I have can be purchased here, and I love the font style and use 'em on everything (like the napkin rings I made for a dinner party here) making them well worth the price for me, but you can also find cheaper ones, use a stencil, or just freehand it]. 

For the first present, I folded the bag to size for the gift inside, then used a hole punch to punch two holes. Looking at the picture below, (1) I used a pen and stamps to write on the bag. (2) I added an "xox" detail on the back with my stamps. (3) I used a scrap of ribbon from a birthday gift I'd received recently to pretty things up a bit. Since there wasn't enough to do anything fancy (or even tie a bow), I simply laid the ribbon flat in front and tied two knots in back. (4) All done!
Here's how it turned out:
Next, I took the leftover handle from a paper shopping bag (just snipped the handle right off) to embellish a similar brown paper bag gift.
 This time I knotted it in front. Again, I used my stamps with a little freehand cursive to mix things up. The best part is that the "mistakes" add to the charm, so there is no need to try too hard when you're doing these. 
I had a few more little things to wrap (like this set of mini True Blue Spa goodies), and this time decided to use a coffee collar from the latte I'd treated myself to as embellishment. Seriously, you can turn anything into gift wrap with the help of a stapler. 
All I did here, as you can probably tell, was cut the coffee collar into strips and stapled the strip around the top of the bag to add a little bit of texture and interest. Easy as pie. I varied the size of the strips on other presents. It doesn't bother me at all that you can see the staples, but if it bugs you a glue gun or strong double-sided tape is your best friend. You could also choose, instead of a coffee collar, to use ribbon, a strip of tin foil glued down, a bright strip of leftover scrapbook paper, pipe cleaners, a book page, strip of newspaper, or whatever else you find lying around.
You could also use a leftover piece of ribbon and simple shipping tag (if you don't have them, $3 or so will get you a giant pack of them at Staples), like this:
Or even a paint chip trimmed and hold-punched to become a fast & easy gift tag:
Paint chips are great for making fun little trees on gift tags and cards, too. 
And for making cute little ornament boxes. I'll share tutorials on my versions of paint chip boxes soon, but here's a look at one easy version:
Or maybe you just want to beautify a brown paper package. A paint chip works well and unlike ribbons and bows keeps it feeling masculine. You can't totally see in the photo, but a few similar paint chips are used to wrap all the way around the package. Just secure with tape and you're done!
Or you can add a pop of colour by using part of one as a gift tag if you want something truly easy to do. 
For bigger items, cutting up old shopping bags is my go-to freebie gift wrapping method. For instance, this bag 
 was cut & used to wrap this little set (yes, I was wrapping on my stove -- I have no idea why)
Finished off with some more stamp action and a recycled piece of ribbon.
I also reuse things like tissue paper (in addition to the more obvious re-use of gift bags and such). 
This present (above) is wrapped in a few layers of tissue paper. I covered a lime green sheet in plain white to subdue the colour a little. I then used one of these cheapie shipping tags (if you don't have them, cut a piece of cardstock) and snipped part of a pretty birthday card I'd received but no longer needed to make a tag. A piece of ribbon from a present I'd received finished it off. 
And that is how I've been doing my gift-wrapping for free in the spare minutes I find while my baby is napping. Quick, cheap, and incredible easy. I'm hoping that these ideas will spark some of your own. Remember, you can really re-use just about anything to dress up a present. Presentation is everything and looks do matter (when it comes to gifts, anyway), but it needn't be expensive.


P.S. You can the Ramsign giveaway, right here


  1. LOVE this post & your resourcefulness & talent! Am going out to buy some letter stamps, and rummage around here for brown paper bags. :-)

  2. You are so smart and creative. You would never know you didn't buy all your wrapping supplies at some high end store. So personnal too. Free is good, LOVE it!

  3. Such cute and creative ideas. Love this. Thanks for your visit too.

  4. Super cute, will be trying this out this Christmas! Thanks for entering my giveaway and good luck!

  5. I love all your ideas. Those gifts look so much more appealing than "store bought" gift wrap!


  6. Such lovely, stylish packaging ideas.

  7. You were one of our most viewed links last week and I featured you tonight! I have cutie little letter stamps just like that and am totally going to use them now!

  8. These ideas are beyond awesome - great ideas!

  9. What great ideas! Just letting you know that I featured one of your gift wrapping ideas today!



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