How To Wrap Christmas Presents Like A Pro

Expert tips on how to wrap holiday gifts, including how to tie a proper bow and add a sweet Southern touch.

christmas presents
Photo: Courtesy of Dogwood Hill

While we have plenty of Christmas wrapping ideas for presents and holiday treats, the first step of wrapping any gift is the same whether you're using Kraft paper and twine or pretty printed paper and silk ribbon (like the above packages by Dogwood Hill). Much like trimming a tree, wrapping a present is very much a creative process. The overall final look of the tree or package relies solely on the wrapper's vision.

To help you wrap this season, we've tapped two pros—Megan Cooley of Meg's Flower Market in Ringgold, Georgia, and Shannon Leahy of Shannon Leahy Events in Maryland—to share their expert tips and ideas on everything from the best tape to use for wrapping to how to tie a proper bow and add a Southern touch to any package.

Christmas Green and Red Gift Wrap
Courtesy of Dogwood Hill

The 3 Steps Of Gift Wrapping

Just as you'd create a festive home, you want to bring that same energy to your gift-wrapping approach. "At Christmastime, I like to think of wrapping presents as an extension of decorating for the holiday season," Cooley says. "It's all about the presentation and creating a warm, inviting atmosphere for family and friends."

Here, she shares three easy steps for wrapping a Christmas present like a professional.

Step 1: Choose Your Wrapping Paper

First, make sure you choose a classic or traditional wrapping paper such as tartan plaid, candy stripe, or gingham. If these gifts will live under your own tree, you might want to consider a wrapping paper that matches or complements the decor throughout your house.

Step 2: Tie and Attach Your Ribbon

Next, choose a quality ribbon. A ribbon can totally make or break the look of your presents. A wired ribbon is the easiest ribbon to work with when creating a big, full bow, while using a hand-torn silk ribbon or a velvet ribbon adds a very elegant touch.

Step 3: Add a Festive Finishing Touch

For that "something special," add a topper to your present. Some personal favorites are fresh Christmas greens, holly, berries, magnolia leaves, cinnamon sticks, and mini ornaments. You can often find items in the dollar section at Target or in your own backyard.

One last insider secret? "Use double-sided tape to hide your seams!" Cooley adds.

Oyster Shell Gift Tags
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Creative Ways to Add a Southern Touch

Southerners can add additional touches to the tops of their packages to really make it feel like the South for the holidays. "If you want to make it Southern, you can never go wrong with beautiful magnolia-inspired gift wrap with beautiful green and copper paper and real magnolia leaves attached," shares Leahy.

If you're close to the coast, use that as your wrapping inspiration by attaching decorated oyster shells that double as gift tags. Additionally, monograms are always popular, no matter the season. Simply fix the recipient's initial to the outside of the box to finalize the look.

Christmas Presents Gift Wrap
Courtesy of Dogwood Hill

How to Tie a Proper Bow

Sure, we all can tie our shoelaces, but when it comes to tying a bow on a package, the steps start to feel more difficult. Luckily, Cooley has just the way for anyone to tie a ribbon. Her favorite ribbon to work with? "A silk ribbon makes a statement, creating simplicity and elegance," she says.

  1. To make an easy even-loop bow, start with a small paperback book and enough ribbon for several loops. Any size book will do.
  2. Take the ribbon and begin to wind it around the book. Start by laying the ribbon across the book with the end of the ribbon just hanging over slightly. Wrap the book a few times—four or five full loops will work best.
  3. Pull the ribbon off the book, pinching it to keep the shape of the loops. Find the center and wrap it with a wire. You can also use another piece of ribbon to tie around it and tightly secure it in place.
  4. Make sure to leave enough room for "tails" on the ribbon. Tails are just a fancy term for the pieces that hang down from a bow. If you use wire, you can cover the wire with another piece of ribbon.
  5. Once the ribbon has been secured in the middle, pull the loops apart from each other—pulling them in different directions to "fluff" the ribbon a bit.
  6. Once the bow is complete, you're welcome to tie other things into the bow. Imagine a sprig of greens or a cinnamon stick placed on top.

"For me personally, bows enhance the elegance and charm of your gifts," Cooley adds. "Without a good bow, presents tend to look underwhelming."

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