This Wrap Story is part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link in the right-hand column!

We know E. and B., who were married this summer, through our church. E. is the one whose bridal shower rose I documented in an earlier post.

This is one unique couple. They registered at some unusual places: Ten Thousand Villages and the gorgeous Heath Ceramics. In their desire to live simply, their first home is in a trailer park! Here they are happily riding into their outdoor reception on a tandem bike.

Image by Michelle McCotter

I got them some pottery from the Pasadena City College ceramics sale since I was so jazzed about it. I hoped the gift was in the spirit of their registry tastes.

There were a few challenges. First, I’d wrapped M. & M.’s similar gift in a gift bag. I wanted to try something different, but I didn’t have a box the right size. Inspiration hit when I noticed our neighbor was using a plastic food box to store her son’s toys. Ah ha!

We’d been eating salads all summer long and already had an empty box of mixed greens ready to go.

I cut the bride and groom’s initials from security envelopes and glued these and a red heart onto white cardstock. Next, I dip-dyed some paper I had to pad the bowls. I like this effect – it has the benefit of looking good even when crinkled.

I interspersed the dyed paper with strips of newsprint to protect the bowls, put on the lid, added a purple ribbon, and voila!

I enjoyed getting resourceful for this Wrap Story. I hope the gift and its wrapping reflect some of the quirkiness and shared values of our friends E. and B.


Tutorial Tryouts are trial runs of DIY ideas from the internet and other sources. If you find a tutorial you’d like me to test (or if you’ve tried and documented one yourself!), let me know in the comments. For more, click the “Tutorial Tryout” link in the right-hand column.

If you haven’t caught the undercurrent of thrifyness running through The Gifted Blog, I’m about to officially out myself.

This Tutorial Tryout is from The Complete Tightwad Gazette III. When she heard about my extracurricular reading, my friend said, “Charissa, you are cool, but if you think something is useful you will use the most frumpy things.” I can’t deny it.

But doesn’t this look amazing? I made it from a ramen package! Here is the reader tip.

We don’t buy chips, so I used what we had on hand. G. bought a multi-pack of these noodles on his last trip to Ranch 99.

I cut the top and bottom off a package and opened it flat. Then I cut it into strips. I thought about cutting in a spiral as mentioned in the reader tip, but it seemed like the packaging seam would create irregularities in the ribbon.

Then, treating each strip like curling ribbon, I pulled it taut along the scissors blade.

When all the strips were curled, I gathered them and held them in the middle. Then I used a strip to tie them together.

And that was it! I really love how the packaging printing shows through as the ribbon spirals. The bow is full and lush, yet there’s a hint that there’s something quirky going on. It would be fun to see what this looks like with the printed side facing out.

What do you think? Is this tightwaddery a yea or nay?

For today’s free idea – an Instructables tutorial on making a gift box out of a cereal box. Click here for the step-by-step.

If this seems like too much work for you but you like the concept, go the simple route by disassembling a cereal box and regluing it inside out!

Looking for more free gift wrap ideas? Try the “Free Ideas” category link to the right!

Hello! The post you are looking for now lives at my new site,!
Read all about it right here: Inspired By: Lupin of Bugs and Fishes.

Tutorial Tryout: Bagelope

September 23, 2009

Tutorial Tryouts are trial runs of DIY ideas from the internet and other sources. If you find a tutorial you’d like me to test (or if you’ve tried and documented one yourself!), let me know in the comments. For more, click the “Tutorial Tryout” link at the bottom of the post.

A gift bag from an envelope?

I saw this tutorial on the Craft magazine blog and had to try it to believe it! Exhibit A, below: pretty card and envelope from SFMOMA, announcing our year-long membership (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Exhibit B: several creases, two pieces of ribbon, and some scotch tape later…voila!

I added the three colored dots to cover my name and address.

As you can imagine, this bag can only be used for tiny gifts, but it definitely has some ‘gee-whiz!’ appeal. I found forming the bottom of the bag to be tricky, so you might want to try on an envelope you don’t care about first. Finally, a standard business-size envelope is going to leave you with an impractically skinny bag, so look for an envelope with more height for this project.

What do you think? Let me know if you give it a shot!

Inspired By: Church Potlucks

September 16, 2009

This Inspired By post is part of a mini-series on the things and people that inspire my gift wrapping. Inspiration can strike at any time! For more, click the “Inspired By” link at the bottom of this post.

The last “Inspired By” post was about my hunt for vintage scarves to use for gift wrapping. There’s too much good stuff to say about these scarves! This post is about what else inspires their use in my life.

I grew up a part of a predominantly Japanese-American, Presbyterian church. Although I didn’t always see this growing up, it is a vibrant and very nurturing spiritual community. And besides loving God, each other, and the world beyond the church, my home church throws a mean potluck!

Now, if you recall potlucks from your early adult years, chances are that three people brought chips and salsa, and maybe one other person just brought chips.

But my home church’s potlucks are, no exaggeration, feasts. Chicken wings, sushi rice, a crockpot of chili, Spam musubi, fruit platters, chow mein, rice krispie treats, rainbow0-layered Jello, Auntie Julianne’s famous sour cream twist cookies, etc, etc, etc… For some excellent photographs, please click here for images taken by talented family friend Jordan Nicholson.

But what does this have to do with gift wrapping? Well, often times, church ladies will put plastic wrap over their potluck dish, then wrap it in a furoshiki for transport. Originally used to hold one’s personal items at the Japanese public bathhouse, these versatile square cloths came to be used to hold merchants’ wares, boxed lunches, gifts, and more. It holds everything together and provides a little knotted handle, to boot!

courtesy Kraig Donald, CC-BY-SA-3.0

So, it was time to test out a scarf-wrapped gift, furoshiki style! I picked my scarf of choice. I liked this one for its unusual pattern and ample size.

I spread it out and placed a gift box on the diagonal. I took opposite corners and tied a square knot in the center of the box, then repeated with the remaining two corners. I tucked the ends of the first knot beneath the gathers, and, voila!

So cool! I was a bit afraid the feather pattern would be too bizarre for most people’s tastes. I was pleased to see how nice it looked gathered around the box.

This idea can be used for a traditional gift – or, you could riff on the church potluck idea to present a dinner host with a plate of cookies. The scarf will gift-wrap the food as well as protect it from slipping off the plate.

Since this was just a trial run, I look forward to the next present when I can actually use this idea!

This Inspired By post is the first of a mini-series on the things and people that inspire my gift wrapping. Inspiration can strike at any time!

Ideas for gift wrapping can pop up in unexpected places. The June/July issue of ReadyMade had a feature on a “remixed” picnic. The article featured different takes on the traditional potato salad, sandwiches, fruit salad, etc. For me, more exciting than the homegrown microgreen salad was the beautiful presentation of these picnic foods.

The prop stylist laid the dishes out on a rainbow of casually-arranged scarves. Even the homemade Vietnamese sandwiches were wrapped in colorful ones (see left-hand side, below).

I was reminded of a gift I wrapped for G. for our anniversary last year. Looking for a quick way to wrap his bluetooth headset, I knotted a silk scarf from his grandma around it.

It is a beautiful and earth-friendly way to wrap smaller gifts. When we headed out to Iowa this summer, I resolved to hunt down more vintage scarves to use for gift wrapping.

When he heard I had gone thrifting on our vacation, a friend asked, “Is there something different about the Goodwills in Iowa?” Good question. I explained that when you thrift shop here in Southern California, you’re basically going to find a lot more Forever 21.

Especially where G.’s grandparents live, there is a greater population of seniors. This is reflected in what ends up at the thrift stores. While I can’t speak definitively, I would say that there is a higher likelihood of finding vintage stuff in Iowa than there is our immediate area.

My mother-in-law knew just where to take me, and I found some very cool scarves in Iowa City and across the state in Spencer. I can’t wait to use these for gifts!

In the next Inspired By post: a trial run of a scarf-wrapped gift!