10 Easy DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas for the Holidays

Giving presents can be even more fun than giving them—not just in choosing the perfect gift, but also in the presentation. Custom gift-wrapping is an art in itself and it can make the difference between just a nice present and an incredible inspired memory. The possibilities of high-concept wrapping options are endless, but if there’s one secret, it’s to think about how to use familiar artifacts in unexpected new ways. Here are some choices to think about:

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1. Maps

Perfect for travel lovers or friends who are loyal to their home turf, maps not only look great but come in a handy size for even larger presents. To make the package complete, consider old postcards or couture luggage tags for gift tags.

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2. Vintage Print Material

Although collectible paper publications from days past can cost a pretty penny, estate sales and small-town antique stores often have stacks of beautiful old prints at “everything-must-go” prices. Depending on the personality of the recipient, consider newspapers (period funny pages are a time-tested crowd-pleaser in particular), Art Deco sheet music from the 1920’s and 30’s, or old fan magazines. 

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3. Fabrics

Skipping out on paper altogether is not only eco-friendly, but wrapping a gift in fabric is also a way to give multiple presents. By using loose knots or strategically applied safety pins, you can use scarves, doilies or tablecloths as wrapping and bonus gifts. If you want to go all-out, use vintage brooches or earrings in lieu of safety pins.

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4. Creative Containers

Let’s be honest: all of that folding and taping can get old fast, and as just mentioned, can produce a whole lot of paper waste.  Depending on the size and theme of your gift, old cigar boxes, tobacco tins, or even film cans are a snap to assemble and can be a gift in themselves.

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5. Wallpaper

Also like maps, wallpaper comes in a present-friendly size, and can potentially fit the theme of any present, from kitschy 70s Pop Art patterns to nursery room paper for kids’ presents.  Since wallpaper is a thicker stock, you may want to fold or even pre-score with a ruler.

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6. Chalkboard Wrapping Paper

Ok, so the paper and pens may not be 100% DIY, but the end result could not be more personalized.  Whether you’re a great cartoonist or simply have a good cursive hand, this signature look is sure to stand out in the pile.

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7. Internet Collage

Sometimes we forget that any image we can think of — and millions we can’t — are available at the touch of our fingertips.  Simply browse for a few of the recipient’s favorite things, fill your printer with photo quality paper, and have at it with scissors and a glue stick.  An especially great idea for pop culture junkies or someone with whom you share a slew of in-jokes.

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8. Street Style Stencils

Trends may come and go, but stencils will always be easy, cheap, and fast.  However, if you’re giving to someone a little edgier than stars, crescents, and horsies, why not try your hand at Banksy-esque graffiti designs spray-stenciled over plain paper?

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9. DIY Gift Card Envelopes

For the truly picky, sometimes a gift card truly is the best idea.  Unfortunately, this always seems impersonal and even thoughtless.  By wrapping the card in origami paper, lace, or any other lively covering, you’ll have done more than sufficient damage control.


10. Shirts

Yes, we’ve already mentioned fabric, but this incredibly unique tying technique is worth mentioning on its own. No matter what you do, don’t go truly overboard:  remember that the unwrapping will all be over in a matter of seconds. For the same reasons, however, putting an extra bit of thought and time into a wrapping that says you’ve reflected on the recipient is a gift in itself.

Uma Campbell is a freelance writer from Southern California. She is interested in creating and giving unique gifts this holiday season. She currently works for Soothing Company.