How to wrap presents like a pro this holiday season

How to wrap presents like a pro this holiday season

When it comes to presents, it's what's on the inside that counts — but that doesn't mean you shouldn't put any effort into the outside, aka the wrap job.

We get it: Some gifts are harder to wrap than others. But even so, it's worth your while to learn how to wrap a present like a professional (or at the very least, better than whatever you've done in the past).

There's no need to get fancy with it, though. With some wrapping paper or fabric, double-sided tape, scissors and ribbon, you can make the presentation just as impressive as the gift itself. But by all means, bring out the stamps, stickers, glitter, pinecones, ornaments or other festive embellishments for an extra special touch.

We've wrapped every kind of present over the years at TODAY, so you're in luck. Below, find step-by-step guides for every kind of gift and situation, whether you're fresh out of wrapping paper (psst, use white or brown paper, then spruce it up with stickers) or are struggling to wrap an oddly-shaped item.


Consider these expert-backed tips and tricks our Christmas gift to you.

The supplies you need to wrap a present

First things first, create a gift-wrapping “station” with your supplies so it's less of a chore when the time comes.

Make sure these supplies are on your list, then check it twice:

  • Wrapping paper and/or fabric

  • Sharp scissors

  • Double-sided tape

  • Ribbon, placed on a dowel to prevent tangling

  • Tissue paper

  • Optional: Custom gift tags

  • Optional: Wire cutters for wired ribbon and embellishments

  • Optional: Stickers or washi tape

How to wrap a box

Less paper is more when it comes to wrapping, according to Jackie Gamble of Nordstrom.

Follow these steps the next time you wrap a box:

  1. Use your hands to see how much paper you’ll need to climb the sides of the box, then cut to size. Alternately, you can wrap the paper around the box, mark the spot where the paper meets itself, and cut.

  2. Once you've cut the paper, fold the edges over neatly to hide any cut marks or irregularities.

  3. Run your fingers along any creases on the box to form crisp edges.

  4. Place double-sided tape on the edge of the paper and pull it tight across the box.

  5. Fold the top edge down, then tuck the sides in and bring the bottom edge up to the top and fasten with double-sided tape.

Short on time? This viral hack will help you wrap a gift in just 15 seconds.

  1. Cut wrapping paper so you’re able to wrap the gift with a 2-inch overhang. Paper should cover both sides of the package’s height.

  2. Position the narrow side of your box diagonally across the sheet of wrapping paper.

  3. Lift the edge of your paper to meet the upper corner of the gift, creating a triangle. Crease the section and pull corner upward, flush onto the box’s edge.

  4. Now that an edge is created, push the paper onto gift and pull the corner up once more.

  5. Flip the present over and tape the edge.

  6. Two new edges are created on the narrowest side of your box. Fold the triangle of paper down like the top of an envelope. Tape to secure.

How to wrap odd-shaped presents

Even experts can be stumped by a ball, bicycle or other oddly-shaped gift.

The Japanese tradition of furoshiki uses a piece of pretty fabric to cover up a gift without the use of tape, pins, clips or other accessories — it’s just knots and fabric! Once the gift is bestowed, the receiver actually gives the fabric back.

Follow these tips the next time you have to wrap anything other than a box:

  • Marnie Harris from Von Maur recommends using a clean dish towel for smaller items, like wine bottles. Use a fresh sheet or tablecloth for larger items like a small bike.

  • Simply wrap the gift like you would with paper, then tie a bow with the fabric itself.

  • For a wine bottle, Martha Stewart suggests putting a holiday card or family photo over the wine bottle’s label, and adding bells and twine. Wrap the bottle in tinsel garland, and add a Christmas ornament for the finishing touch!

  • Opt for cellophane, which naturally has a wrinkled, less-than-perfect look.

How to make a gift bag out of wrapping paper

Another approach for an oddly shaped item is to craft your own custom gift bag.

  1. Cut enough gift wrap to cover the item, then add an extra inch.

  2. Fold the paper in half and fold the other side so it overlaps by half an inch. Tape the edge down.

  3. Fold the bottom edge up, making sure it's wide enough to fit the gift inside. Flatten the corners to make two triangles.

  4. Fold the opposite edges to the middle and secure with tape.

  5. Fluff your bag open and place your gift inside.

  6. Close the bag and decorate with string, ribbons or ornaments. You can use a hole punch to run a ribbon through two holes and tie a bow.

How to wrap a present when you're out of paper

Say you have a last-minute gift and somehow failed to create a gift-wrap station. (How dare you!)

No problem: Stewart recommends wrapping items in plain paper, then using things from around the house to embellish — think stamps, stickers, glitter, gold paint, pinecones, bells or ornaments.

To make quick gift tags, use Christmas cards! Cut out a cute tag from a card, punch a hole in it and string some ribbon or twine through it.

Creative ways to dress up a wrapped present

You've got the wrapping down, now it's time for the fun part. Dress up any present with velvet ribbon, cheery stamps, washi tape and other embellishments. We've rounded up tons of helpful how-tos below, so you can decorate with ease.

Cut ribbon and tie a bow

If a big and beautiful bow is your goal, then opt for a wire ribbon to help it keep its shape. Once you tie the bow, pinch the bow with your fingers to give it more volume. Read on for even more tips:

  • Cut a piece of ribbon that measures from your wrist to your elbow, according to Luis Herrera of Williams-Sonoma.

  • Make two knots to keep the ribbon in place.

  • To shape the ends, fold in the edges and cut diagonally.

  • Use double-sided tape to secure the end of the ribbon to the box, leaving it loose to create more volume.

Elevate the gift with out-of-the-box embellishments

  • Washi tape makes a great replacement for ribbon and won't budge.

  • Personalize your paper! Minted will create custom wrapping paper with your favorite family photos. Or do it yourself — decorate plain wrapping paper or craft paper with a stamp or painted pattern.

  • Use a label maker to create custom and colorful to-from tags.

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