How to Wrap a Present

Three Methods:Traditional Wrapping MethodJapanese Diagonal WrappingPrintable Wrapping Paper

When you give someone a neatly wrapped present, it makes you look talented and your gift looks more carefully chosen. It's very simple to make a good impression. All you have to do is to be gentle, and patient. Included are instructions for a traditional rectangular folding method, as well as a Japanese diagonal folding method which requires no cutting whatsoever. This method takes the most skill level, so be prepared for this.

Method 1
Traditional Wrapping Method

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    Remove all price tags. There's nothing more annoying than investing your careful efforts into a gift only to realize you forgot to take the price sticker off. If you cannot remove the sticker, get a black pen and black out the price. You can also use a piece of tape if you put one end on the tag and pull it off, the price sticker will usually come with it. You don't want the person to see that you bought his electric shaver from the clearance shelf, now do you?
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    Put the gift in a box, if it isn't in one already. This optional step will make the gift easier to wrap. If your box comes apart easily (like a shirt-box), be sure to use a little bit of tape to keep it from opening during the wrapping process. Use only as much as necessary to keep it from coming apart, not so much that the person will need a machete to open it.
    • If you need to, you can almost always cut off excess wrapping papers. You can't add more wrapping paper on.
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    Mark your cut lines. Especially if cutting in straight lines is difficult for you, be diligent about this. Use a straight edge (like a ruler) or you can fold neatly along the line you will need to cut along, unfold, and cut along the fold. Put the rest of the roll aside.
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    Place the gift or box upside down in the middle of your paper. This will make sure that the recipient of the gift, when opening it, will land on the top of the box instead of the bottom.
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    Fold the paper around the gift. On the horizontal side of the paper, take one side and fold it over to the bottom of your gift. Then take the other side, folding it over, too. Now is where you need that extra inch. Take the longer side and fold it under so that you have a nice smooth crease instead of jagged cutting. Put it on top of the other end and pull it tight. Then tape together.
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    Fold one side of the box at a time. On one end of your package, fold the corners in so you have kind of like a triangle. Fold the straight end over, then pull it to the top of your package. Tape. Repeat on the other side.
    • If you want to, add a crease to the triangle flap by folding the straight side over on itself.
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    Add ribbon. Make sure your ribbon is long enough and can go around the gift in whatever pattern you decide. For the "classic" look of a cross on top and bottom, the amount of ribbon you will need will be twice the length, plus twice the width, plus twice the height, plus enough to tie it and make the bow.
    • To tie the ribbon, put the ribbon on top of the gift and center it. Wrap it to bottom and cross the two ends past each other and pull it tight. Turn the gift 90 degrees, the lift the ribbon up the two remaining sides. Pass the two ends under the middle of the ribbon and Tie a bow on top. Get your scissors. Pull one of the sides of ribbon and curl it using the scissors. With all the spare ribbon, cut it and then tie it under the bow, cut in half and curl again, do so until there is no un-curled ribbon.
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    Add a card. Take the index card. Write to and from, name, etc. If you are good at calligraphy, this makes a beautiful personal touch. If not, you could either type it or write it neatly.
    • If you have lousy handwriting, and no to/from cards or stickers, you can cut a square of coordinating wrapping paper, fold it into a "card", and tape it in place.
    • You could also neatly cut out an element of the wrapping paper design (like a snowflake, a balloon, etc.) and turn it into a card. Tape this about an inch or two from the corner of the box.

Method 2
Japanese Diagonal Wrapping

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    Cut out a rectangle from a spool of wrapping paper. Your wrapping paper should be wider than it is long.
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    Place the wrapping paper diagonally out in front of you, design side down. Instead of a rectangle, the way the wrapping paper is positioned should look more like a diamond.
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    Place your gift box on top of the diagonally-set wrapping paper. Place the gift box upside down so that the bottom of the box is facing up.
    • Place your gift box so that only a little triangle on the right bottom side of your gift box isn't underneath wrapping paper.
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    Bring the bottom half of the paper up over the bottom side of the box and fold it over the top. A little bit of the wrapping paper should extend down onto the back side of the box.
    • When done properly, this step creates a triangle shape (with the tip cut off) on the top left side of the box.
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    Fold the paper flush onto the left side of the box. Done properly, this creates a little triangle on the bottom left corner of the box. Crease the paper together.
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    Take the flap of paper to the left of the crease and bring it over on top of the crease. Make sure this flap completely covers the crease and lies flush with the bottom edge of the box. Secure this flap onto the wrapping paper with a piece of tape.
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    Moving to the top, fold the paper flush onto the top side of the box, pushing the excess paper up into another triangle. Crease this excess paper. (It should form a triangle.)
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    Take the flap of paper above the creased triangle, lift it up, and flip the box so that the side that held the tape is now on the floor (or the bottom of your surface). Your box will now be up-side down from where you started it.
    • Again, make sure the flap you wrap over the crease covers it completely and lies flush with the left edge of the box.
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    Leaving the box upside-down, fold the excess paper on the bottom right so that it's flush with the right side of the box. This will create another triangle-shaped crease.
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    Pull the flap to the right of the crease up and over onto the top of the box. Again, make sure that this flap covers the triangle crease and lies flush with the bottom right edge of the box. Tape the flap to the wrapping paper.
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    Fold the excess paper on the top so that it's flush with the right top of the box. This will create another triangle-shaped crease.
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    Lift the flap above the crease up and fold the corner back onto the box.
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    Fold in the excess paper on both the left and right side of the final flap to make a triangle-shape.
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    Fold in the paper on the tip of the triangle. You should be left with the bottom half of the triangle, as the top half is folded underneath.
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    Press the paper down onto the box and tape off.
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Printable Wrapping Paper

Printable Patterned Wrapping Paper

Printable Flower Wrapping Paper

Printable Heart Wrapping Paper


  • If using a box, you can also slightly pinch all the edges of the package to give it a nice crisp, clean look that looks very professional.
  • Clear postal tape is the best for wrapping gifts that are going through the mail, or that will be wrapped far in advance.
  • For a round shaped gift: place the gift in the center of the paper, pull paper together up above it, folding over the raw edge and secure each end of the paper with long pieces of ribbon, firecracker-style and curl the ends of the ribbons.
  • Secure ready-made bows to the gift with tape or with staples, because the adhesive on ready-made bows never sticks well!
  • After your gift is wildly received, dispose of gift wrap, ribbon, and boxes in a environmentally-friendly way. Be sure to recycle cardboard after removing as much tape as possible. Most shiny gift-wrap and ribbon is not recyclable. Ideally, choose ones that are or are printed on plain (not glossy) paper. Raffia (available in most craft stores) is a biodegradable ribbon substitute that is a bit harder to work with, but also looks lovely.
  • Tie, tape or staple curling ribbon on under the bow. You can leave strands of ribbon hanging and curl them by running scissors along the length of the ribbon.
  • To create a nearly seamless look, try the following:

    • Use double-sided tape instead of regular tape.
    • Arrange the seam of the largest paper fold - the one that initially wraps around the gift - so that it is on the edge or side of the gift. This works best when you use a box. To start: Tape the paper halfway in place about 1/4" from one of the box side edges. The paper should wrap all the way around. If you haven't cut the paper from the roll yet, cut it now leaving at least a 1/4" for the fold. Then fold the excess under to create the clean finished edge. Use the double-sided tape to secure not only the fold to the inside but then the fold to the package. The seam will be almost unseen.
  • Want to be environmentally friendly? Just don't have wrapping paper? For a fun look, use the colorful comics section from your Sunday newspaper, or cut up an old magazine or calendar. Even if you have a large package, by taping pages together you can wrap it with your small pages. Copied musical scores (especially from appropriate musical pieces) look good, too, although, because you have to print them, they aren't environmentally friendly.
  • You can also use plain paper instead of wrapping paper and draw something or write on it.


  • Do NOT burn gift-wrapping in your fireplace, wood-stove, or burn pile. The chemicals released from burning the wrapping can be nasty.

Things You'll Need

  • Gift
  • Wrapping paper, or a bag
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape (regular and/or double-sided)
  • Curling ribbon
  • Card (To write name on it)
  • A box (if you don't already have one)
  • Straight edge/yardstick/ruler

Sources and Citations

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