Now, I’m not really one who believes that every present really needs to be perfectly wrapped. I’m usually just fine with some basic paper, a few shiny bows (you know, the kind that come in bags of 100), and some good ol’ scotch tape. Pile them up, rip them open, and don’t worry about it too much on Christmas morning. I just enjoy the excitement on the kids’ faces and the fact that they’re having so much fun ripping and throwing paper everywhere. Why spend all that time going crazy on meticulously wrapping something for your toddler when that wrapping paper is just going to be in shreds all over the living room within a matter of minutes?
There are times, however, when you really do want to be able to wrap a gift perfectly, with nice crisp corners and with at least a little bit of skill that makes it look like you took some time with it. I do appreciate those extra gift adornment and topper ideas that I see all over the place at this time of year too, but this post isn’t about that. This is about the actual wrapping of the present. You know, the part where you cut the paper, fold it, and tape it. This process is usually taken for granted as being pretty simple and something that everyone can do, but if you ever get into a situation where you really want your wrapping job to look perfectly crisp and tidy and you just don’t know how to do that, it can get pretty frustrating.
So here’s how! 🙂
First, you need to start out with some decent paper. It can be hard to tell if paper is going to be of a higher quality when you just see it on the roll in the store, but most places that sell wrapping paper will be selling several different types at different levels of quality, so your best bet is just to buy the one at the highest price point. Definitely stock up on this paper during the after Christmas sales. That way, it will still be dirt cheap and you’ll have yourself all set up for next year’s wrapping. Check out my free printable list for other suggestions on what to buy during the after Christmas sales to save time and money next year as well! 🙂
For your most challenging wrapping jobs, choose the papers in your collection that have the grid on the back so you can cut in a nice straight line and also align the sides of your gift correctly before you start folding. Again, it’s hard to know which papers will have the grid printed inside when you see them on the rolls in the store, but if you pick up a selection of the higher quality papers, at least a few will have grids I’m sure. It’s getting more and more common these days, thankfully! The paper I’m using here in these photos just came from my local grocery store, so you can find decent papers pretty much anywhere.
If it’s at all possible, try to make sure you put your gift in a box. A box is just so much easier to wrap successfully than anything else and it gives a really nice presentation for just about any item. If you find a really nice present wrapping box, like those low, flat clothing boxes, definitely save them for next year because they can be hard to come by when you need them!
These boxes with the lids that fit over the lower sections seem really nice and tidy at first, but the fact that the top is wider than the bottom can make them challenging to wrap if you’re going for really crisp corners and edges. Try to save these boxes for gifts where you just want to add a bow and some ribbon but no wrapping paper. Or you can get creative and just wrap the lid!
Boxes with all flat sides work best for perfect wrapping jobs. Like this one I stole out of the pantry:
It’s fine to use a cereal box or something like this for close family members and kids, but obviously it’s not ideal, so make sure you start your box stock pile now for next year so you’ll also have a good selection of unprinted boxes as well!
Now it’s time to cut the paper!
As far as how big to cut your paper, you want the paper to just reach around the sides of your box and overlap by about 1/2 an inch. For the ends, I find that giving yourself an little flap that’s between 2/3 of the height of your package and the full height usually works best. You can see here that my end flaps are almost as long as the package is high.
Start your taping by attaching the paper to one of the sides of your box. You want to hide that seam as well as possible, so placing it on the side is less conspicuous than placing it on the top or the bottom most of the time. Apply tape along the whole side of the box, securing the paper really well and giving you a good strong foundation to work off of.
The next step makes all the difference! Take your thumb and your forefinger and create a nice crisp crease along the edge of the box that you just wrapped your paper over. Make sure to pull the paper tight around that edge first!
Creasing all of your edges and your folds neatly as you go makes it easier to keep up with your tidy wrapping in future steps because it ensures that everything is lying flat against the box and it really makes for a super crisp-looking final product!
Next, wrap the rest of the paper all around the box and secure the edge with tape, again putting tape down over the entire length of the edge of the paper.
Make sure to crease along all of the edges as you go!
A lot of people like to fold that last edge over and create a little hem before they tape it down but I think that’s really an unnecessary step because when you’re cutting along the lines on the inside of the paper, all of your edges are perfectly straight and don’t really need to be hidden.
Time to work on those ends now!
Start on one end and locate the top of the flap. Secure it down to the end of the box with a single piece of tape.
I like to use just a single piece of tape here, rather than taping all the way across because it holds everything in place, but allows me some flexibility when I’m adjusting and folding the side parts of the flaps so I can make sure they end up being perfectly symmetrical.
So let’s look at those side flaps!
The first thing you need to do is grab the flap and pull it inward so it’s completely flat against the outer edge of the box.
Crease it along that edge once it’s tight!
Next, move on to the top part of the flap and adjust it so it will lay at an angle that looks nice, then press it down with your finger to crease it.
Finally, make sure the rest of the flap is laying flat against the box and also flat again the ground and then make your last crease. Tape everything tightly! For the record, it’s common courtesy to leave the very corner un-taped so the gift-receiver can actually get into it. I don’t always remember either, though, so don’t worry too much about it. 🙂
Oh! No! Did you see what happened?
There will always be a mistake here or there like this but it can be fixed! I just snipped this little piece off and placed a piece of tape over it.
Make sure you finish taping everything down as tightly as possible before you move on to the next step for best results and really smooth your tape down to remove any air pockets. I left mine a little less-smoothed because it’s easier to see in photos that way, but in real life, definitely smooth your tape a little better!
Take your bottom flap and fold it up tightly over the end of the box, creasing it along that final uncreased edge. But don’t tape it!!!
Ideally, to get a really nice, tight final-flap-taping, you want to be able to stand the present up on its end like this.
With the other end still unfolded though, you can’t do that! So go to the other end of the box, fold it, crease it, and tape it, then come back to this first side and finish it up properly.
And that’s how it’s done!
Do you have a method for wrapping perfect presents every time? Or do you just ignore the whole process and stick everything in gift bags? 🙂
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