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How to Wrap a Present: Like a Gift-Wrapping Pro

Our all-inclusive guide on how to wrap a present will prepare you for a lifetime of impressive gift-giving.

You’ve found the coolest gift and can’t wait to give it to someone you love. Frustration then rears its ugly head after you attempt to gift-wrap it properly. How to wrap a present is one of those meticulous skills that many people never learn.

Your gifts don’t have to be diminished anymore. Our easy-to-understand guide to gift wrapping takes you through the entire process. You’ll figure out everything from wrapping gift boxes to awkwardly shaped presents in the most creative and easy ways.

Check out our guide on how to wrap a gift that’s beautiful from the outside in.

How to Measure Paper for Gift Wrapping

How you measure paper for gift wrapping may be the most important step in the process.

Keep these key pointers in mind:

  • The process of gift wrapping should be done on a flat, level surface for neat results.
  • The width of the paper should match the width of the box plus twice the height. A box that’s eight inches wide and four inches high should use a piece of paper that’s eight by four plus four, so 16 inches.
  • The measurement of the paper’s height wraps around the box, plus a few inches for overlap. If the four-inch high box is three inches deep, the paper should be 4+3+4+3+2, for a total of 16 inches. You can roll the box along the paper to figure it out more easily.
  • When wrapping a uniquely shaped gift, place the item in the middle of the wrapping paper, wrap the paper all the way around the gift, and cut it (with a few inches to spare).

How to Wrap a Rectangular Present

A rectangular present is probably the most commonly shaped gift – and also the easiest to wrap! If your gift isn’t rectangular and you aren’t a wrapping pro, the fastest way to wrap it perfectly will be by placing it into a rectangular box.

Before you get going, you’ll need to gather a few things.

What You’ll Need

  • Wrapping paper.
  • Scissors.
  • Tape.
  • Tissue paper.
  • Bows and ribbons (optional).
  • To/from tags.

1. Measure and Cut

Using the above guide, ensure you have enough wrapping paper. Place the box upside down in the center of the paper. The long sides should touch when folded towards the middle. This is a crucial step to prevent being caught with too little wrapping paper.

2. Make the First Folds

Fold the first half over towards the middle of the box and secure it with tape. Then, fold down the second half tightly, so it overlaps the first. Tape it neatly so the wrapper paper doesn’t budge.

3. Fold the Edges

Now, you’re going to fold the edges of the short side of the gift. You may wish to cut off excess wrapping paper if it becomes bulky when folded. Point the left and right flaps horizontally toward the center of the box so that they hug the corners.

Crease both corners with your thumb and index finger, creating 45-degree triangular flaps on the top and bottom. The resulting shape should look like a “U” or a “V,” depending on whether your package is small or large. Fold the triangles up and tape them to the box.

Repeat these steps on the other short side of the package.

4. Add Bows and Ribbons

This is the time to get creative with ribbons, bows, and other decorations. Putting together the final product is the last way you can get creative with gift wrapping.

Top Tip

When folding corners, use your thumb and forefinger to encourage sharp, neat edges.

How to Wrap a Present Like a Christmas Cracker

Christmas crackers are a traditional party favor that usually appears at a holiday dining table. When pulled apart, they make a loud snapping sound. Inside, partygoers will find a small gift, a paper hat, and a joke.

You can wrap a present to look like a Christmas cracker using these easy-to-follow instructions.

What You’ll Need

  • Cardboard toilet paper roll or cardboard tube.
  • Tissue paper or wrapping paper.
  • Scissors.
  • Ribbons or other gift decorations.

1. Measure

Measure the wrapping paper, ensuring you leave enough extra paper to roll the gift tube inside three times.

2. Roll

Place the gift inside the tube. Roll the tube with the wrapping or tissue paper until it’s three layers strong. If you don’t have a cardboard tube, roll the gift itself, keeping it as neat as possible.

3. Crimp

Crimp the overhanging paper at each end and tie it tightly using ribbons. You could also start with rubber bands and cover them with ribbons to decorate.

4. Decorate

Finish with any other decoration you want to include, such as stickers, bows, or to/from tags. Your gift will look just like a Christmas cracker and be tons of fun to open for someone special.

How to Wrap a Gift Creatively

You can get fancy by wrapping gifts in a creative way, especially where the final decoration is concerned.

  • Use brown wrapping paper and ribbon yarn, with rustic replacements for ribbons and bows, like a pine cone, evergreen branch, or holly.
  • Use vintage maps as wrapping paper that’ll stand out among other gifts. Pair it up with crafty ribbon choices that might not normally be used in wrapping presents.
  • Wrap your gift to appear as something else when you’re without a box. An example would be wrapping up a gift set to look like a stuffed animal. You can find this popular gift-wrapping craze on TikTok (1).
  • Wrap up the gift using a blanket scarf, either using one you have or including a new one in the present itself.

Gift Wrapping Tips and Tricks

Make life easier for yourself with these handy tips!

  • Have your scissors and tape on hand, so you can get started immediately without having to run additional errands.
  • Always pre-cut your wrapping paper to ensure you don’t end up with your gift poking out of a piece of wrapping paper that’s too small for it.
  • When joining ends, making room for some overlap is also important, so the gift doesn’t peek out.
  • If you have too much excess wrapping paper on the sides of the gift, cut it and use the extra paper for another present. Make sure you don’t cut too much; you don’t want the gift peeking through!
  • Make a double knot when tying ribbons, so they don’t come loose and spoil the surprise ahead of time.
  • Trim the excess ribbon ends and have gift bows on hand for any extra decoration you wish to do.
  • It’s a good idea to get a gift-wrapping organizer to keep all your basic materials together, plus any extras you collect that can make a good gift look great.
  • If you’re using wrapping paper with pictures, try to measure the paper so that the images line up at the joins for a professional finish.

What Can You Use Instead of Wrapping Paper?

Whether you find yourself out of wrapping paper or just want to get more creative with the gift-wrapping process, these alternatives are easy to use for a spectacular gift:

  • Butcher paper.
  • Vintage wallpaper.
  • Fabric, like a blanket scarf, dish towels, or a pillowcase.
  • Cookie tins, empty coffee cans, or mason jars.
  • Children’s paintings add a personal touch.
  • Baskets when putting together a homemade gift set.
  • Newspapers or magazines.

How Do You Wrap a Present When the Paper Doesn’t Fit?

So, you’ve pre-cut your wrapping paper, but there’s not enough to cover your gift. What options do you have?

You don’t have to let the paper go to waste! Just turn the gift box diagonally. Now, you can simply fold up all four flaps and secure them with tape. The gift will be completely wrapped on all sides.


Why Does It Matter How a Gift is Wrapped?

Despite the gift itself, how you wrap a present is super important to the receiver. A well-wrapped gift allows the person to be surprised when they open the present and also shows great care. The more neatly a gift is wrapped, the more positive a person is likely to feel about what’s inside.

Can You Wrap a Gift Without Tape?

You can wrap gifts using an origami-style hack that’s popular lately. The gift should be placed face down and aligned toward the corners of the square-cut wrapping paper. Fold the top flap over the gift, followed by the other two flaps. The last flap simply gets folded tightly beneath the others. This way, it will stay in place even without tape.

What is a Cheap Way to Wrap a Gift?

There are a lot of different ways you can wrap a gift on a budget. From newspaper to butcher paper or wallpaper, the materials you use as wrapping paper can make all the difference. Other options include reusable fabric bags, gift baskets, or simply tissue paper on its own. You can dress up the gift with ribbon, bows, flowers, leaves, pine cones, or other cute accents.

How Do Japanese People Wrap Presents?

Japanese people wrap presents using Furoshiki. It’s the name of both the square-shaped cloth and the different techniques of wrapping gifts using this fabric instead of paper.

It’s both eco-friendly and economical since you can use anything from handkerchiefs and tea towels to scarves and bandanas. The fabric wraps completely around the gift from both ends and ties on top for a secure fit (2).

Headshot of Maryana Vestic

About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.