Gift wrapping initially appears to be straightforward, but the final, ribbon-wrapped products can differ significantly from the neatly packaged presents in store windows and artfully organized Instagram photos. Even if you've mastered the fundamentals of gift-wrapping (if not, see here for instructions), there are a few minor adjustments that can elevate ordinary wrapped presents to Instagram-worthy status.
The most well-known gift-wrap artist in the world, Alton DuLaney, is familiar with all the techniques for achieving a crisp, well-wrapped appearance, and he shared the common mistakes he sees people committing. For gifts that, regardless of what's inside, look professionally garnished, avoid these traps.
1. You don't have a designated space for gift-wrapping
You can get the leverage you need for crisper folds in a flat, open wrapping space, and you won't run into any walls or toy pieces as you reach for the tape.
2. You don't gather your materials before starting
Jumping up every 30 seconds to grab some scissors or more tape can make you lose focus and take a long time to finish wrapping the gifts. Before you begin working, gather everything you'll need, like tape, ribbon, scissors, wrapping paper, and present labels (or custom gift labels made with a label maker). Place everything within easy reach.
3. Using dull scissors to cut paper and ribbon
By using dull scissors to cut wrapping paper, you won't get a long, clean cut; instead, you'll have to laboriously snip off bits of wrapping paper (and getting a straight cut will be nearly impossible). Before you begin, sharpen your scissors, or better yet, keep a decent pair of scissors exclusively for gift wrapping.
4. Using the same pair of scissors to cut everything
No matter how sharp the scissors are at first, wrapping paper with glitter or foil accents can dull them, making it challenging to cut paper and ribbon with clean, crisp edges. Grab two pairs of scissors instead, one for the ribbon and the other for the wrapping paper. To prevent mixing up the ribbon-only scissors while he is wrapping, DuLaney ties a strip of ribbon around them.
5. Using wrong tape
On gift wrap, standard transparent tapes or, gasp, colored tapes will stick out unprofessionally. For its silky sheen, try Scotch Gift Wrap Tape ($17 for six rolls; amazon.com). It simply merges right in, perfectly with the paper.
6. Leaving extra paper on packages
Any surplus wrapping paper, especially at the short ends of the box, should be cut off. The material should only cover the item being wrapped. You need just enough to stay inside the box's edge.
Otherwise, where the extra paper is rolled up, the wrapped gift will have bulges. DuLaney measures the height of the box with his hand, calculating how much paper is required on either end.
7. Wrapping the boxes wrong side up
Place the gift upside down on the paper before you start to wrap it. The bottom of the packaging will be where all seaming will be done, according to DuLaney. "Your seaming isn't visible on the top of the packaging," I said.
8. Taping the wrapping paper to the box
In some cases, the box itself is a gift, according to DuLaney. The box can get damaged if you tape wrapping paper on it. The experience of unwrapping is also harmed. Ideally, "the paper should just slip away," according to DuLaney.
9. Using boxes that are too big
Folding a clean, crisp line up against a surface that dips or yields is challenging. When you press against the box, DuLaney advises not to let up too much pressure. Use smaller boxes that are just big enough for the gift inside, or fill gift boxes with tissue paper or another filler to firm up the surface.
10. Choosing wrong paper
Although the cheap wrapping paper is easier on the wallet, it can easily rip or crinkle when wrapping gifts. Heavy artisanal or upscale wrapping papers might be challenging to use since they are challenging to fold or crease. Use a mid-range alternative if possible, or be ready to struggle a little with heavier pages.
11. Crossing a decorative ribbon on the underside of the box
Start at the top and maintain any twists there when tying a ribbon around a wrapped gift (or any item for that matter). The criss-cross pattern on the package's bottom is frequently used, according to DuLaney. This makes the package's bottom lumpier and prevents it from lying flat. Instead, wrap the ribbon around the box and cross it there, leaving only flat ribbon lines at the bottom. Start at the top of the item.