How to wrap a gift for Christmas – perfectly

Find out how to wrap Christmas presents perfectly, using ribbon or even cloth so that they look flawless under your tree

Wrapping Christmas presents at home
(Image credit: eclipse_images/ Getty)

Want to know how to wrap a gift? It may sound self-explanatory, but wrapping a present neatly can prove to be difficult. If you're always left wondering which way to fold that gift wrap, or your presents look less than presentable, then it may be time to master the technique of gift-wrapping before you tackle this year's presents. 

Before trying fancier Christmas gift wrapping ideas, it makes sense to master the basic method for wrapping your festive presents. Once you've got the wrapping down to a t, you can introduce additional elements to your wrapping theme. 

How to wrap a gift: the basic technique

If you (like yours truly) seems to get your gift wrapping wrong every time, this handy step-by-step technique is worth following.

1. Prepare a large sheet of study wrapping paper. Ideally, it should be more that twice the size of your present.

2. Fold the sheet of wrapping paper over the gift so that the edge meets the paper on the other side. 

3. Cut the remaining side of the wrapping paper underneath the gift, leaving two to three inches.

4. You want the height of the remaining paper to extend about three-quarters the height of your box. 

5. Trim the other side to match. You'll be left with a rectangle, with two shorter sides and two longer ones.

6. Flip the gift so the bottom side is up. 

7. Fold the short side in about one to two inches over the edge of the box. Use regular tape (opens in new tab) to secure to the box.

8. Pull the long edge of the wrapping paper over the gift, pulling so that it's snug. Crease the edges. Tuck the free edge under and sharply crease. Use double-sided tape (opens in new tab) to secure the edge. 

9. Fold the paper on the sides into triangular shapes and bottom and top, then fold the bottom over the top and secure with double-sided tape.

10. Repeat on the other side. Your package is seamlessly wrapped. 

You can also create a gift bag with wrapping paper by folding one side of your sheet into a diamond-shaped base (watch the technique in the video above), but, as even HGTV producer Jenny Edwards agrees, it may be easier to just buy a gift bag at this point. 

How to wrap a gift sustainably

The truth is, much of what we use for wrapping our Christmas gifts isn't good for the planet. Anything that is covered with glitter, or has a metallic sheen to it, is not recyclable, and the traditional tape used for gift wrapping is made from plastic. The same goes for conventional ribbons, made from fabrics such as nylon and acetate. 

Fortunately, there are now lots of sustainable and eco-friendly options for gift wrapping. Brown gift wrap like this one from Etsy (opens in new tab) is the most sustainable, but if you want printed, look out for recyclable Christmas wrapping paper which uses vegetable-dye over anything that is not biodegradable – usually anything shiny.

It's not all about buying new, either. Hillary Swetz, who runs the frugal living website Homegrown Hillary (opens in new tab), likes to use 'alternative paper such as sheet music or maps. It saves money and is more eco-friendly.'

Gifts packaged with brown paper and hessian

(Image credit: ArtistGNDphotography/ Getty)

How to wrap Christmas presents using cloths

In trendy parlance, wrapping Christmas presents with cloths is called furoshiki. The technique hails from Japan, where cotton and silk, not paper, were traditionally used for gift wrapping. Laura Wittig, the co-founder and CEO of the sustainability platform Brightly (opens in new tab), is a big fan of this style of wrapping, describing it as 'a more eco-friendly option than wrapping paper, but your gifts look stunning sitting under the tree.'

It turns out there isn't just one furoshiki technique, but the easiest one to master involves 'laying the cloth on a flat surface, placing the gift in the middle,
bringing one set of opposite corners to the center and tying a knot, then
repeating with the remaining corners. It turns out flawless every time!'

Christmas gift wrapped furoshiki-style in a cloth

(Image credit: Bogdan Kurylo/ Getty)

How do your wrap Christmas presents using a ribbon?

Don't want to use tape? We hear you. It's sticky, it's annoying, and anyway, the gift will be unwrapped in a matter of seconds. So how to wrap a gift using just a ribbon? Easy. Lindsey Hyland, entrepreneur and founder of Urban Organic Yield (opens in new tab), explains the technique: 'Simply wrap a ribbon over the front of the gift, around it to the back and then up and over to secure it.' 

Then, 'it can really be as simple as tying oneself an elaborate bow, or clipping a square piece of fabric from another piece so that there's no overlap at all. Wrap one bit under, one bit over again up and slightly down counter-clockwise until it is snug but not so tight that you breakthrough! You can always use more than one color for this too.' Ribbon is sure to nod to your Christmas tree decor also.

Woman wrapping Christmas gifts

(Image credit: Pekic/ Getty)

How to wrap so that the present is hard to open?

LIke to create suspense when your loved ones open the gifts? The easiest way to make a gift that little bit harder to open is 'to wrap the present tightly in several layers of wrapping paper', according to Lindsey. Alternatively, 'use packing tape to seal the wrapping paper together.' 

Woman finishing Christmas gift wrapping with a pine cone

(Image credit: ASIFE/ Getty)

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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