You spent time and money picking out that gift for your lady, right? (Right?) I would hate for you to blow it by handing that present over to her wrapped in newspaper. (Unless it's really cool newspaper that you picked up on a recent trip to Hong Kong or some such. Then you have my permission to use newspaper as gift wrap.) But wrapping a gift is a chore, and also a lot can go wrong. I personally hate wrapping gifts! But I do it, and you can too, with a little help from me.

Gift Wrap Requires Some Planning

An ugly-looking gift is generally the result of a last-minute scramble to get it wrapped, resulting in a present that was clearly bound up in whatever materials were lying around the house. If you want to avoid that, you'll need some supplies on hand before you get started. You don't need to go in for one of those bananas gift-wrapping stations that are so popular with the Martha Stewart crowd, but you will need some wrapping paper, naturally, so it's not a bad idea to keep a small stash of multi-occasion or seasonally specific gift wrap around the house. You will also need tape (double-sided is ideal), scissors, and ribbon or some other decorative flourish to tie things together. A card or gift tag is another nice final touch.

It Also Requires Some Skill

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to wrapping a present is to use too much or too little paper; to avoid this, make sure to measure out the length of paper you'll need before making your cut. The easiest way to do this is to lay the gift down and flip it on all four sides across the paper, then leave an extra inch and a half or so for overhang. When it comes to the flaps, opt for just enough paper to cover the sides of the box leaving, half to three-quarters of an inch of paper to serve as overhang.

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Once you've got the right amount of paper, use a hard, flat surface on which to do your wrapping. If you're trying to wrap an oddly shaped item, box it up first or opt for a more forgiving wrapping option (more on those shortly).

Don't forget these two important things:

  1. Turn the gift upside-down before wrapping, so that the seams are on the bottom side of the present—that way, when the recipient opens it, she'll see what she's getting instead of a UPC code.
  2. Remove the price tag before wrapping.

If That's Too Complicated, Try the Candy-Wrapper Method

Tissue paper is the great equalizer when it comes to gift wrap—as long as you use a gentle touch (it tears easily!), no great folding or measuring skills are required to work with it.

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One of the best ways to use tissue paper to produce a good-looking present is to place the gift in the center of the tissue, roll it up, and secure the paper with a small piece of tape. Then, using ribbon, tie off each end of the tissue so that it resembles a foil-wrapped piece of candy. Use your hands to fluff up the ends of the tissue, and use a ribbon in a color that coordinates or accents the tissue for maximum effect.

Tissue paper is also a great way to wrap a bottle of wine or booze: Lay the tissue flat on a hard surface and place the bottle right-side up in the center of the paper. Bring the sides of the tissue up around the bottle and secure around the neck using a piece of ribbon. Curling ribbon can be, well, curled by pulling one blade of your scissors down the length of the ribbon in a fluid motion. Warning: Curling ribbon with scissors is a strangely addictive thing to do, like popping bubble wrap.

When in Doubt, Go With a Gift Bag (Or Box, 0r Satchel)

By "gift bag," I do not mean the shopping bag in which the gift was handed to you by the store clerk. I mean an actual gift bag, stuffed with tissue paper, handles tied with ribbon. To make your gift bag as attractive as possible, use two to three pieces of tissue paper as stuffing; pinch each piece of tissue in the center to create a cone, and place the pointed end in the bottom of the bag, so that the paper flares up and creates a bit of drama.

Other options for the gift-wrapping-impaired among us—and look, don't feel so bad if you fall into this category—are decorative boxes and fabric sacks that are great for gifting bottles of wine, champagne, perfume, fancy oils and vinegars, and on and on and on.

Be the Guy With the Coolest Gift-Wrapping Supplies in Town

Sure, you can run down to your local pharmacy or swing by Target for a roll of wrapping paper, but if an A+ wrapping game is your goal, you can't go wrong with these options.

Cheeseburger Wrapping Paper | Gift Couture, $20

Chilly Dogs Gift Wrap | Fish Lips Paper Design, $3.50

Chalkboard Gift Wrap | SoireeSupply, $12.95

Wood Grain Wrapping Paper | Target, $5

Slate Pine Branch Tissue Paper | Paper Source, $5.50

Vintage News Tissue | The Container Store, $2.99

Feathers Gift Bag | Paper Source, $2.95-$8.50

Chevron Kraft Bags | Oriental Trading, $6.50

Die Cut Heavy Duty Gift Bags | JAM Paper, $3.50-$7

Leather Ribbon Spool | Anthropologie, $22

Set of 6 Multicolor Baking Twine | Crate & Barrel, $9.95

Peacock Grosgrain Ribbon | Michael's, $4.99

Clips Washi Tape | Cute Tape, $10

Baseball Stitches Tape Set | Harvard5f, $12.90

Metropolis Gift Tag | Wrapped, $8

"Even Naughty People Deserve Something Nice" Gift Tag | IndelibleImpressions, $6.68

Vintage Map Bottle Bag | Papyrus, $6.95

Metallic Burlap Champagne Bag | Crate & Barrel, $5.95

Blue Allure Box Collection | The Container Store, $12.99-19.99

"Do Not Open" Gift Box | Papyrus, $9.95

Thank you in advance for making an effort this year.


Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume). Are you dirty? Check The Squalor Archive for assistance. Are you still dirty? Email her.

Image by Sam Woolley.

The Concourse is Deadspin's home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter.

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