Dec 282013

Do you take advantage of sales by purchasing your holiday wrapping paper, ribbons and tags on or after the 26th? This is a great way to cut costs for next year. However, I must admit I’m not a fan of big crowds, so I generally do not visit stores for after-Christmas sales. Instead, I take stock of my remaining gift wrapping supplies, and do a little upcycling and downloading to prepare for next year. Who says you have to wait 12 months to re-stock?

Begin by organizing the gift wrapping supplies you still have on hand. Our storage system is pretty simple: we stand up paper rolls inside a plastic tub. Once upon a time the tub had a lid where you could also keep ribbons, bows and tags, but it was so small that it was impractical, and some of our rolls were so tall that they exceeded the confines of the lidded tub. It was simply easier to toss the offending lid!


Before I stand up any roll in the tub, I slice off smaller pieces of wrapping paper that don’t run the full length of the roll, and set them aside for later use. Why? They tend to uncurl from the rest of the paper roll, and eventually crumple, crease or tear. Then I cut down the length of a cardboard roll from the bathroom or kitchen, and wrap it around the end of a tube of wrapping paper, “tying” it with a rubber band. If you wrap only a rubber band around your roll of wrapping paper, the paper often tears. The cardboard tube protects your paper and keeps the paper tightly coiled until it’s needed the next time. An alternative to using cardboard tubes and rubber bands is pony tail elastic.


If you like to sew, you can make yourself a wrapping paper organizer like the one designed by Christina of 2 Little Hooligans. All you need is an old kitchen stool, casters you can find at any home improvement store or office supply store, fabric, 2 packages of bias tape or ribbon, and of course some thread. Read Christina’s tutorial, Fat Quarter Friday: Wrapping Paper Organizer, to make an organizer for yourself.

Let’s return, for a moment, to those leftover pieces of wrapping paper I set aside. All year long, I save shopping bags that stores such as Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle and others use to package your purchases. Often those bags are sturdier than any gift bags you can buy, so I can’t bear to throw them away. At the same time, I don’t want the store logo to be visible if the gift inside the bag doesn’t come from that store.

DSCN8002That’s where the leftover wrapping paper comes in handy. Using gift wrap, colored card stock, scissors, glue and decorative punches, I can give a gift bag a makeover.

DSCN8003Although you can make your gift tags from leftover bits of wrapping paper, I love to make tags from digital files I download from the Internet. Many tag designs are free to download (and that will be a separate post), but the ones I purchased are so reasonably priced that they are worth the cost. I fell in love with chalkboard tags this year, so here are my favorite selections, all found in Etsy shops. You can click on the photos to purchase the downloadable digital files.

Haley of Mooseberry Printables designs printable art, nursery prints and typography quote art. For the affordable price of $6, you get 12 holiday gift tags or cupcake toppers featuring four designs. Of course, you can print these as many times as you like. I backed each two-inch design with a scalloped circle that I punched out from red card stock, but the designs are beautiful all by themselves.


Shirley of For the Love of Design has a shop filled with printable stationery, party decor, and digital media. For $4, you can download nine printable chalkboard Christmas ornaments with unique geometric designs that you can hang from a tree or garland, affix to a mirror or window, or use as intended as holiday gift tags. Just punch a hole in the top after you cut out the designs with scissors. I framed these tags with scalloped circles in brown kraft paper.


Le Paper Café sells a truly prodigious collection of washi tapes, as well as other scrapbooking supplies, in addition to digital designs. Make sure you check out the Facebook page, where you’ll find at least one discount coupon code you can use in the Etsy shop. There is also a Web site where you’ll find many more items. I love these colorful little chalkboard tags that I printed on white card stock and whose edges I brushed with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Black Soot. You can download all eight tags for $3.50.


Getting ready for next year’s holiday wrapping season doesn’t have to feel rushed if you start early. In my next post, I’ll point you to my favorite free holiday gift tag printables. Use them for next year’s gifts, or—if you sell handmade goods online—include them with the holiday packages you ship. Tags are fun evening projects you can complete while watching TV . . . and they keep me, at least, from reaching for a handful of popcorn or a candy bar!

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Dec 212012

Thirteen inches of wet, heavy snow blew in Wednesday night, beginning around four o’clock  in the afternoon. Schools closed on Thursday, major highways were shut down, many homes were without power, plows dealt with gusting winds that clogged iced-over roads as quickly as they were cleared, and it was recommended that everyone stay home. Earlier yesterday, John plowed our neighbor’s driveway while I snapped photos of him, hard at work. When he entered the house and shed his Eskimo suit, he was more than ready for a hot shower, some aspirin and a cappucino.

John during blizzard 12.20

This kind of weather—snow, that is—does invoke the holiday spirit. If you haven’t already wrapped your packages and tied on your tags, you’ll be happy to know that you can find lots of  delightful (and free) tags on the Web. Last year at this time, I hunted down some free Christmas printable tags that you can read about in Five simple ways to wrap your holiday gifts. In today’s  post you’ll discover additional options. Download, print and personalize them, and tie them to your packages with yarn, twine, ribbon or string. Keep in mind that all of these tags are for your personal, rather than commercial, use.

In a guest post on I {Heart} Nap Time, three sisters—Jamie, Jodie and Jennifer—share their Christmas tags and gift box idea. I printed the circular snowman tags and adhered them to flower shapes out of red card stock using my Spellbinders Nestabilities Peony dies, and then attached crochet thread hangers. The gift box these three ladies designed is not shown below, but involves the idea of dotting a paper mache box with white paint to look like snowballs, and decorating the edge of the lid with turquoise ribbon and red rick rack trim. Why not fill a box with handmade tags as a gift? Make sure you also visit Jamie, Jodie and Jennifer’s blog, eighteen25, and check out their Super Easy Chocolate Drizzled Microwave Popcorn recipe—just don’t eat it while you are making your tags!


I fell in love with the vintage-style Christmas tickets shown below that you can use as package tags or embellishments. Designed by Miss Cutiepie in 2009, they’re just as usable three years later. It is suggested that you distress and ink the edges of the tickets for a more vintage look. I cut my tags out with scissors, and simply inked them with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain. Then I punched holes in them and attached craft twine. I think these tickets would look great with brown kraft paper packaging. Visit Miss Cutiepie’s Freebies – Vintage Style Christmas printables DIY to download the full set of these lovelies.


Looking for stocking stuffers? Fill up some pretzel bags (available at Michael’s) with Hershey’s® Nuggets, but decorate the chocolate first with wrappers, and attach a special tag to the bags. The printables were designed by It’s Written on the Wall and can be downloaded HERE. The instructions call for loading up 4-1/4 inch x 1-7/8 inch handmade card stock trays with four milk chocolate candies. However, I found this size to be a little long, and sliced off a quarter inch. Score the long sides of the rectangle one quarter inch, fold, and you have a simple, but effective, tray.


Look in the right side bar of the freebies page of It’s Written on the Wall for many more Christmas printables, such as these bookmarks that can double as gift tags. Add ribbon, and they’re ready to use!


Amy Moss of Eat Drink Chic designed a set of mini bookmarks using a knit pattern as a background. I think these bookmarks would be perfect to use as tags for handmade knitted or crocheted items. I punched holes in them and added yarn ties.


Erin Rippy of designed A Rustic Christmas Printable Set that is nothing short of amazing. You’ll find address labels and tags that you can complete on the Web, then save and print later. I printed just a few tags from this set, and love the look. Use your scallop punch or a die to provide a decorative edge to the round labels, as I did, or simply use them as is.


Looking for more Christmas tag options? Then click on any of the 10 links shown below:

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Dec 122011

If you’re like me, you’re counting the days till Christmas, hoping you can wrap your gifts without having to run to the store for extra gift tags, ribbon and paper—or heaven forbid! a last-minute gift for someone on your shopping list. There are a few shortcuts you can take that will help you simplify the packaging process, yet still have attractively wrapped gifts.

Bag it. Use simple brown or white lunch bags for small items, round up some solid color bags, or re-use paper shopping bags. Cover store logos with cutouts from last year’s Christmas cards, paste a design on a bag that you have cut out from wrapping paper, or use double-sided tape to adhere a family photo (two gifts in one!).

Use yarn instead of ribbon to embellish your gifts. It’s inexpensive, doesn’t crush during shipping as ribbons do, and is available in an endless array of colors. If you knit or crochet (or know someone who does), there are always leftover balls of yarn, just waiting to be used in some way.

Make a small box in 3 minutes or less. Need a quick jewelry box for a pair of earrings or something tiny? Make a triangle box that needs only a piece of card stock measuring 3 inches x 9 inches and a length of ribbon, yarn or lace to tie it together. Watch the video below, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can make this box that’s a real standout. Your gift tag is the only embellishment you’ll need.

Clean out your cupboards of onesies. We all have plates, cups and saucers in our cupboards that don’t match anything else. Give them away, filled with items that will please the recipient. Fill a plate with home-baked cookies for your brother, bury a necklace or earrings inside a cup filled with sweet treats for your sister, stuff a mug with brushes and markers for your artistic friend, or tuck a bookmark and gift card to a local bookstore inside the mug  for your favorite bookworm.

Invest in a hole punch and card stock for tags. You can run up a daunting total at the check register with tags you purchase in retail stores. The alternative is the Internet, where there are many free sources for gift tags that are unique and appealing. Print them on plain card stock, cut them out with scissors, and either tie them or tape them to your package. All the tags in this post were free Internet printables, with the exception of the tag used for the triangle box. Here is a list of 10 sources for free gift tags to get you started:

  1. We Love to Illustrate for Children, FREE Holiday tag PRINTABLES
  2. Digital Antiques: Big Brown Dog Primitives, Free Christmas Tags
  3. Karla Dornacher, Free Christmas Tags Download
  4. LollyChops, Holiday Tags: With Birds-n-Stuff
  5. Gooseberry Patch Blog: New (Free) Christmas Tags!
  6. Debbie Mumm, To & From
  7. Mary Engelbreit, Holiday Gift Tags
  8. Design Sponge, Merry Christmas: Downloadable Holiday Tags
  9. B. Nute Productions Party Place, Free Printable Father Christmas Tags and Simple DIY Christmas Crackers
  10. Arian Armstrong, Free Gift Tags . . . And Stay Tuned

What simple solutions have you discovered to make your wrapping process easier?

© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.