Handmade: A Frenzy of Wrapping Paper

Like many young brides, I reached a domestic high point the first year I was married, at least in terms of ambition if not ability. I was determined to put my stamp on everything that came out of our shiny new joint household: meals, decor, correspondence, and of course, the holidays. I wasn’t so inventive when it came to the gift giving (though I do have a vague memory of buying a special drill bit to bore huge holes in the center of birch saplings we cut into pieces so that we could pour wax in the chunk of birch tree and make individualized candles fire hazards for everyone on our list).

But when it came to the wrapping paper for those gifts? I fancied myself a fount of creativity. The idea of mixing fancy gold embossing with plain brown craft paper occurred to me and took hold, growing in my mind like a fungus. I raced out to acquire sheets of plain brown paper which I proceeded to stamp with a fancy design in a relatively uniform fashion before sprinkling gold embossing powder over each stamped design. Embossing powder needs to melt in order to adhere to the surface, a process which demands heat, usually delivered via a heat gun. I didn’t have a heat gun, so instead I stood over our stove, holding each sheet of embossed paper at an angle, so that the powder wouldn’t slide off into the stove. And holding each sheet of paper close enough to the burner for the powder to melt without scorching the paper or worse, catching it on fire. (As an aside, fire is our household’s theme element, our pagan symbol, and over the years the tension between burning things without burning things down has been as responsible as anything else for keeping the family together).

A few failed attempts and several hours later, I managed to come up with six sheets of customized embossed brown wrapping paper with gold bits dribbling down the sides. It felt like a minor triumph. The wrapping paper project was complete — now I just had to find the gifts themselves to wrap — but at least I could rest easy knowing no one else would show up bearing gifts that looked like ours. That much was certain.

Since then I’ve refined my methods and lowered my standards. This year I’ll just use a combination of wrapping paper found at Dollar Tree (they actually have very charming wrapping paper) and copies of the Sunday New York Times, which conveys both intellectual aspiration and cheap chic.

A few other ideas from creative types:

from Country Living magazine


From dippity.com


from stylist.com

A great way to use vintage sheet music or pages from old books – if you’re willing to risk the wrath of purists who say such things shouldn’t be tampered with.

from groceryshrink.typepad.com

This works because the gift wrap is part of the gift itself. Something tells me there’s a bit o’ homemade strawberry jam inside that dishtowel. Far too ambitious in terms of gift wrapping for the likes of me but I admire the craftiness.

from Sania Pell

This is more my cup of tea: lots of vintage embellishments. Check out Sania Pell’s site HEREfor lots of this sort of thing.

The DIY mother of us all: Martha Stewart

And finally, no round up of homemade gift wrapping ideas would be complete without the Grand Dame, Martha Stewart, who elevates craft and the handmade to levels our grandmothers could never have envisioned. Here’s a link to more ideas from Martha Stewart for beautiful, unique gift-wrapping. More ideas than you will manage to complete in your lifetime, or in many lifetimes. And none of them involve potentially burning down the house — which, among other qualities — is the difference between the value of content you can glean from Martha Stewart’s website and the value of The Roving Home’s content.

Happy Wrapping!

4 thoughts on “Handmade: A Frenzy of Wrapping Paper

  1. I was fortunate enough to be a recipient of that beautiful embossed wrapping paper and would you believe, I actually saved mine?! Yep, I just retrieved it from my box of Christmas paper scraps and embellishments. I don’t think I understood the whole process to make it but I must have known it was something special. Funny thing is, I can’t for the life of me remember what the gift inside was!

    • Wow Amy. That’s unbelievable and makes the long-remembered effort worth it. Now I’m even more motivated to prioritize the wrapping paper over the gift (and you KNOW the kind of gift-giver I am, so this shouldn’t be too difficult…)

  2. I like the idea of repurposing newspaper, but until now I’ve rally had no knack for figuring out how to make a package wrapped with it look good. Thanks for the photos and the ideas. Makes the crafty parts seem easier for a craft-impaired person like me! #i’llneverbemartha

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