Gift Giving New Uses for Old Things
Surprising tricks for creative packaging.
A playing card is a winning stand-in for a gift tag. Numbers 2 to 10 are fun for kids' birthdays; the king and queen of hearts are perfectly suited as valentines. (Use a permanent marker to write your message.)
Turn a tangle of ribbons into a neat presentation. Hang coordinating colors over the prongs of a tie hanger.
Hey, math can be colorful! Wrap textbooks in simple paper and use alphabet stickers to label the spines.
Glue ribbon around an existing matte to turn a basic frame into one-of-a-kind art.
Let everyone know you march to the beat of your own drum; use colorful ribbon in place of shoelaces. Change when the mood strikes.
Slide empty toilet paper tubes over wrapping paper to keep it from unraveling.
Punch four holes around a piece of cardstock, then tie two pieces of ribbon along the top and bottom to make a striped place card.
More than just a hair accessory: Attach a note to a ribbon with a colorful or bedazzled bobby pin.
You could toss old giftwrap in the garbage or… in the air. Use a hold punch to turn gently used paper (or last year’s stock) into confetti.
When utensils are wrapped together, guests can grab what they need in one go—great for a buffet table.
Use leftover, adhesive gift tags to label file folders. Holly leaves = medical records, Santa = bills (obviously—you owe him for the bike, the LEGOS, the dollhouse…).
Merlot gone missing? A small, adhesive gift tag keeps each drink in the right hand.
Happy birthday, sport! Use a (clean) shoelace for a simple, reusable gift tie.
Oh, that’s grandma dressed as an alligator? Perfect for wrapping her birthday gift. (And the fridge door is full anyway.)
More lovely to look at than the branded box from the store, but it still slides easily into the pantry for storage.
Secure a cupcake liner over the top of a jar with a rubber band. It can be a temporary fix if you’ve lost the lid, a pretty solution to keep flies out of the lemonade, or a cute topper for a gift-in-a-jar.
A pretty jewelry box top is the perfect size for most wine glasses. Decorate the inside or add some confetti for a party.
Avoid ironing while on the road. Pack clothes between layers of tissue paper and they’ll arrive wrinkle-free.
Use paper clips to keep wrapping paper from unraveling.
Spruce up a wrapped gift. Tuck pretty sprigs into the ribbon in place of a bow.
Slip a gift label inside a tag.
To foil present-guessers, hide the real gift in a hollowed-out book. Using a box cutter carve a space just large enough to hold the small item.
For clever gift tags that capture a travel memory, hang on to cardboard coasters from the bars and the restaurants you visit on your journey. When you return home with souvenirs for friends and family, punch a hole near the edge of the coaster, tie a ribbon through the hole, and write a quick note in an empty space (or on the blank side).
Place the bottle along one side of the fabric so that the bottle’s top meets the top of the fabric. Fold the excess material at the bottom over the bottle, forming a pocket of sorts. Then roll the dish towel evenly and secure at the neck with ribbon.
Maximize your green quotient by recycling that Easter basket for a May Day treat. Simply fill the basket with treats—a batch of fresh-baked cookies, candies, flowers and candles, or something more elaborate—for a surprise on your best friend or relative's doorstep.
Get the kinks out of wrinkled wrapping ribbons that were tied around your birthday presents for recycled bows without the telltale creases from the previous gift box.
If the forecast calls for iced roadways, stabilize your sweet cargo by cutting X’s into the tops of gift boxes and inserting the cupcakes. (A shirt box will hold about eight.)
Create a gift tag by cutting a greeting card down to size, then punch a hole in the corner and slide a ribbon through it.
Send a message that speaks volumes. Make a blow-up copy of an entry that relates to the occasion (for Valentine’s Day, try kiss or love) and use a highlighter to mark your most heartfelt sentiments.
Send party guests home with one-of-a-kind favors. Parcel out groups of pieces from an incomplete puzzle and glue a magnet to the back of each. A single box will yield enough decorative sets for dozens of refrigerators.
Create a homemade Valentine with rose-colored swatches cut and arranged in a sweet way on craft paper.
Dress up presents by running tissue through a shredder instead of scrunching it inside boxes and gift bags.
For easy access when you're wrapping, slide spools of ribbon with at least a one-inch diameter opening onto the towel stand's post. Stack the spools from largest to smallest, bottom to top, and tape the ribbon ends to their spools when you're not using them.
Create a one-of-a-kind wedding keepsake by renting an engraving pen from a hardware store and asking guests to sign their names on the platter.
Arrange gift wrapping supplies so you can easily locate bows, ribbons, scissors, and tape.
Slip a (clean) patterned kneesock over the bottom of a bottle, then knot the top to create a decorative carrier. Better yet, offer your hostess two bottles so she can later enjoy toasty toes.
Fill mismatched sugar bowls and tea cups with melted wax and a wick for beautiful handmade gifts.
Dispense ribbon for wrapping gifts. Untwist the hanger—or pop out the cardboard-tube bottom of a hybrid hanger from the dry cleaner—and slide on spools for easy storage.
All out of premade bows? Tie up wrapped gift boxes with cooking twine and farfalle pasta.
Jump-start a trend with this fun, colorful decoration that doubles as a bonus gift.
Add a fun touch to a gift box by using a bright key chain as a tag, attached with big rubber bands in place of ribbon. The recipient will love it, even if it doesn’t go with a bow-wrapped Lexus in the driveway.
To smooth a wrinkled ribbon, hold it taut, run it over the surface of a clean, warm (but not too hot) lightbulb. (Caution: To avoid singeing the fabric, don't use a bulb that has been on for more than five minutes or so.) You'll have a beautiful bow all without hauling out the iron.
Save the comics section for a child's birthday surprise or use the wedding announcements for an engagement.
Paint-sample strips make great gift tags. Besides all those hues, they’re printed with fantasy-inspiring names, like Flamingo Dream. Slide one under a ribbon, or punch a hole and thread ribbon through as a tie.
Keep individual sheets of wrapping paper crease-free by hanging them from the clips. Do the same with gift bags, or drape their handles over the hook of the hanger. (You can also use a shoe organizer: Stash scissors, tape, gift tags, and other decorating supplies inside the compartments.)
Neater and more attractive than Scotch tape (but just as easy to apply), self-adhesive photo corners make even the simplest wrap job look impressive.
No time to make an emergency pre-party run for wrapping paper? Riffle through your bags to find the prettiest and most colorful―or just ones without writing. Triple-bag the gift, then tie all three sets of handles into a knot. Cut the tops of the loops and fan out the pieces to make a plume.
Give a white gift bag a makeover with a simple ribbon transplant. String the ends of the ribbon through the holes to the inside of the bag and tie knots to hold them in place.
Use expired calendar pages to wrap gifts. Because the sheets are just the right size to cover paperback books and other small items, pictures from past months can find new life with a present.
Store tubes of gift wrap in a tall hamper. Keeping them upright will prevent wrinkles and tears.
Add a snazzy touch to a gift in a snap. Instead of tracking down a bow, stretch several colored bands around the box. Bonus: You can slide a card under the bands.