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 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.