Gift Wrapping Arsenal: Raffia

September 7, 2009


Gift Wrapping Arsenal is a mini-series on the items I personally find essential for gift wrapping. As you’ll see throughout my blog, there is an emphasis on versatility, thrift, and style! For more, click the “Gift Wrapping Arsenal” link at the bottom of this post.

My mom has been using raffia to wrap presents for as long as I can remember. When we took a trip to Southeast Asia in my teen years, she saw some weavers using a similar-looking material to make baskets. Thinking of future gifts, she bought several bunches of the long, brightly-dyed fibers to take home (yes, it took a while to convey she wanted to buy the raw materials, not the final products!). Unfortunately, the material was not raffia, and when we came home to a much less humid climate, the strands broke when bent.

All that to demonstrate our affinity for this wrapping material – my mom was willing to cart those strands through the countryside, through customs, and back to the States to adorn her gifts!

True raffia is made from the fibers of the raffia palm. It is flexible and straw-like, and looks great on presents!


Photo courtesy Emily of Little Window Shoppe

Raffia is extremely versatile. Its natural color goes with anything. Decoratively, it is gender-neutral (male readers, feel free to chime in on this one). Similar to fabric ribbon, it is very forgiving. You could probably tie and re-tie it a dozen times and it wouldn’t be worse for wear – very low-stress.

Raffia can be found dyed different colors if you prefer something brighter. There are also plastic and paper look-alikes, but I like the original best.

Here is a bar of soap my mom wrapped with a paper band and raffia. I think the rustic look of the raffia complements the hand-cut soap very nicely! As a bonus, raffia takes very kindly to travel (or shipping, if you’re planning on mailing a present). This gift survived being packed in a suitcase and taken on a plane trip. Doesn’t it still look great?

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4 Responses to “Gift Wrapping Arsenal: Raffia”

  1. shawna Says:

    I remember dad making a rafia pom-pom. Maybe you can get him to do a tutorial?

  2. insidethehemisphere Says:

    I have to agree, raffia is really versatile. I keep some around so i can put something inside a brown paper bag and twist some raffia around it or even wrap a something with newspaper and add raffia…it dresses it up easily.

    great idea.

  3. Makiko Says:

    Oh, I had made hand-made soap, too. And always I was confused from how to wrap them nicely….This is awesome. I agree with you, raffia and hand-made soap looks so nice with each other!


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