Holiday, Seasonal, Tips, Timesavers & Troubleshooters

Last Minute Gift Wrapping Ideas

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So many people think that beautifully wrapped gifts are only found under someone else’s Christmas tree — or in a window on Fifth Avenue designed by some highly paid professional. Well — it just isn’t so. Everyone has the talent to create those gorgeous presents! And the even better news?  Many of the makings are hiding around your house, just waiting to be pressed into service when it’s Christmas Eve and gifts haven’t been wrapped yet!

Two other noteworthy points: (1) Clever, creative gift wraps show that you gave even more personal thought to your wrapping efforts. (2) Through these efforts, the gift wrap almost becomes a present in itself (thereby, perhaps, reducing the need to spend lots on what’s inside).


TIPS: For a quick fix for a wrinkled ribbon, rub the ribbon over a hot light bulb. Also, use double sided tape — it’s more convenient and makes for quick closure.

Look in your mailbox for inspiration — old Christmas cards, catalogs (gift, apparel, home furnishings, art), magazines (fashion, business, hunting). Perked up with a bit of greenery and a card you just couldn’t throw away, who would miss the wrapping paper on this box.



Want the ultimate, and easy, personalized gift wrap? Write the gift recipient’s first name in repeated diagonal rows across plain paper, using multicolored felt tip pens. And don’t forget those brown grocery bags that are stacking up under the kitchen sink; they’re a perfect ground for decorating with stencils, stamps, poster paint.


Give a second life to leftovers, like wallpaper and border trims, if you’re short on Christmas ribbons.


Don’t overlook freezer strength kitchen tinfoil, a handy way to introduce holiday shine to your gift wrap efforts. There’s no rule that gift wrap has to be paper, so also don’t overlook fabric, leather, wool — yes, even tree bark (birch).


Additional ideas for tailoring your gift wrap…

For the beauty queen — elegant ad pages from Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, Town & Country.


For the gardener — empty flower and vegetable seed packets.

For the cook — menus from your favorite restaurants.


For the sophisticate — champagne and wine labels.

For the business school grad – business section of the Wall Street Journal.


For the theater buff — covers of Playbill.

Put the kids to work — as an alternative to defacing the walls, let them use paint and  crayons to color long sheets of white “freezer paper”; then cut out wrapping pieces as needed, letting the contemporary art run off the edges.

Lastly… and since I live with someone who doesn’t do anything about a gift until Christmas Eve…consider his clever choice one year. He sneaked into my closet and borrowed my challis and cashmere shawls, tying them hobo style around his gift boxes, accented with long cinnamon sticks. Go, Jonathan!


Perhaps more significantly, though, this post is about playing up the socially responsible concept of recycle, reuse, reduce. Or, as I like to say…

Recycle and rejoice!

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

3 thoughts on “Last Minute Gift Wrapping Ideas

  1. Such great ideas, Bettie. I cannot wait to cut up this year’s holiday cards with this in mind for next year. Fun for the giver and the recipient too.

  2. Best , most practical ideas for gift wrapping I have seen. I look forward to trying some of these ideas.

  3. Great ideas!
    I like using silk scarves as wrappings. Whenever I find them out and about especially at thrifty’s, they go into my wrap box.
    Happy Winter Solstice Bettie

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