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 in the right-hand column.

My sister asked me a while back what adhesives I use to wrap presents. I wasn’t going to post about it since it’s so commonplace, but since I use tape on almost every gift I figured it’s worth a mention.

Though there are some who prefer to wrap gifts without any visible tape, it honestly doesn’t bother me. I use regular Scotch tape, usually purchased at the dollar store. I like to press the tape firmly to the paper using the flat side of my thumbnail.

However, if money (and my loathe to accumulate stuff I might not use) were no object, I would happily buy some fancy tapes to try. This kind of Japanese washi tape has been all over the craft/design blogosphere. These are from a company called happytape.


Images via happytape

So pretty. I also get a kick out of the lace packing tape below, designed by Karl Zahn and carried by Chocosho.


Image via Chocosho

My mom sometimes uses spray adhesive to wrap gifts. What about you? Do you use standard scotch tape? Double-sided? Let me know in the comments!

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.


If you’ve been following this blog for long, you are well aware by now that I am a fan of kraft paper. It’s neutral, sturdy, and a great foundation for all kinds of variations.

However, the downside of its versatility is that it doesn’t exactly scream “Merry Christmas!”, “Happy V-Day!”, or “Happy Birthday!”. It’s just brown, you know?

One nice thing to have on hand is a variety of gift tags to go with your plain wrapping paper. On some occasions it’s appropriate to write out a card, but for big gift-giving occasions like Christmas, a simple “to” and “from” is all that’s needed. And that’s what tags are for! I keep my tags in an envelope and store it with my ribbons and miscellaneous gift boxes.

I made these from a variety of paper sources – promotional postcards, a holiday greeting card, art exhibition announcements, and a wedding invitation that was too pretty to toss. Any heavier-weight paper can work. On some I’ve glued a blank rectangle where the to/from will be written. I used a standard 3-hole punch to make the holes.

Instead of having lots of rolls of paper on hand, why not have a variety of gift tags that can be used for different holidays and occasions? Admittedly, I’m still figuring out the best way to attach them to gifts – I sometimes have to have to knot the ribbon a bit awkwardly. But I still like using these to add a bright and personal touch to presents!

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?

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 Auntie A.’s presents almost always come wrapped with fabric ribbon, as opposed to the shiny curling kind. Often it is a sheer, slightly shimmery variety. I noticed that fabric ribbons do a great job of making a present look special. It’s fairly goof-proof as well. If you mess up, just untie and start over! Even better, the ribbon can be reused if the recipient is so inclined.

Pictured here is my mom, Auntie A., and me in my grandparents’ garage. Auntie A. coordinated the flower arrangements at my cousin’s wedding and you can see her special touch – sheer, coordinating ribbon around the centerpiece vases. Outerwear and blue sweatpants are courtesy my grandparents (it was cold in there!).

Around the same time I bought kraft paper to use as my only gift wrapping paper, I decided to take a similar approach with ribbon. What ribbon could I buy that would simplify my gift-wrapping process, while still looking pretty? I hunted down a 40% off coupon for Michael’s and selected a ribbon that I thought could be used for all occasions. Inspired by Auntie A., I picked a sheer gold spool.

In retrospect, it would have been wiser to pick a higher-contrast color. When used with kraft paper, the brown color kind of camouflages the ribbon. Still, this little spool has still been most helpful, lending a festive touch to many presents over the last year!

As you might have inferred from the ironing comment in the last Wrap Story, I have also acquired a small stash of fabric ribbons from wrapped presents past.

While I would be amiss to dictate hard-and-fast “dos” and “don’ts” for gift wrapping, I must say that fabric ribbon is my preferred type of ribbon. Not that it’s the only way to make a bow on your present! More on that to come.

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.

Our first apartment after we married was cute but compact, a little one-bedroom place here in Pasadena. It had a bright dining room window looking out into trees, hardwood floors, a purple accent wall left by the previous tenants and (big surprise) not much storage.

It was around this time that I decided to try using only one kind of paper for wrapping gifts. It seemed like a practical and economical move. Practical, because I’d only need to store one roll of paper. Economical, because a whole roll of kraft paper can be had for a buck at the 99 cent store! Take a look in the mailing supplies section.

Okay, so the rolls at the dollar store are a bit skimpier.

I personally like the neutral tone and feel of kraft paper, but it is definitely reminiscent of a grocery bag. So unless the recipient of the gift I’m giving is into:
a) an earthy, all-natural aesthetic, or
b) a minimal, no-frills look,
it’s a fun challenge to figure out how to dress it up.

Recent attempts have included:
– cutting images from Trader Joe’s bags to collage on the gift
– topping the box with a hand-sewn flower and paper leaves (more on that to come!)
– gluing a red heart from a roll of specialty paper on top

For its versatility and value, kraft paper definitely has a spot in my gift wrapping arsenal.