An Easy Gift Wrapping System

Easy Wrapping System

Do you stay up to 2 am wrapping Christmas presents? Or spend hours wrapping gifts? Do you buy loads of paper, ribbon, tags and bows at the after-Christmas sales only to see them end up in a recycling bin or trash can the next year? Well, that was my life during the holidays for a few years. Until I developed an easy gift wrapping system that saves time, energy, and money.

And though there will always be a few gifts like stocking stuffers and family exchange gifts to wrap traditionally, all of the other gifts for my immediate family  (10 to 15 gifts) are done in less than 15 minutes. Sound good? Here’s how I do it:

3 Basic Steps to easy holiday gift wrapping:

  • Buy or find sturdy boxes with lids and nice gift bags.
  • Use high-quality wrapping paper to cover the boxes and lids separately (when necessary- usually when the box has a logo or doesn’t coordinate with your decor). If you need it, here’s a short tutorial on how to permanently cover boxes and lids.
  • Store all the boxes and coordinating bows along with gift bags and tissue from year-to-year in a couple of plastic bins.

2 Rules needed for this system to work:

  1. All the papers/boxes should coordinate together and with your decor (for example, I don’t use red in my holiday decorations, and no Santas).
  2. All of the boxes and bags stay “in house” – these are not the items to wrap Aunt Tillie’s gift with (poor Aunt Tillie, she gets the gift bag we got last year with the red Santa on it…).
Here’s how it works:

{Oh, and you don’t have to have all your boxes ready at once (unless that’s your goal), you can accumulate boxes and paper over a number of years, and permanently cover them as you get them}.

Wrapped Box stored with bow

  1. In year one, you will take the longest time – see it as investing in the future – wrapping lids and boxes separately with coordinating tissue (or even fabric like the photo above…why not make the gift even more special?). Add your gifts and put under your tree as usual, but inform your family to keep the bows together and that the lids come off. Otherwise they may just start tearing the paper before you know it!
  2. Then gather up the boxes, bows, and bags (and even tags).
  3. Make it super easy by keeping the coordinating bow and tissue inside the box from year to year. The ribbons that work best are the wired types which can easily be fluff up again and never look like they’ve been used before (some of my ribbons are more than 10 years old!).
  4. And yes, keep the tag and try to put a gift for the same person in the box the next year, or at least reuse the tag. Though I have to confess that it was pure laziness that inspired this- I would just shove everything in the box to get the out of the way. Then the next Christmas I would open the box and see that, well, I could just put my daughter’s gift in the same box again…and gee, that saved a lot of time!
And here’s how to store your wrapping system:

Gift box with bow

  • In addition to boxes you’ve wrapped, large, sturdy preprinted boxes that you may receive or buy on clearance are terrific additions because they don’t need to be wrapped.

Boxes stored in big box

  • Place whatever small boxes will fit inside the larger ones which reduces the bulk: A couple of small boxes fit into this medium-sized box pictured above.

Box stored in bigger box

  • And then the medium box nests inside a larger box.

Stored Wrapping System

  • After nesting all your boxes, place them in a large plastic bin with lid (or however many you need) and store it in your attic or garage. Plastic will keep the papers and boxes stored the best without letting moisture inside. Since I use an open metal bin for our gift bags, I store that in our wrapping closet, however, where the humidity is better for the bags and tissue.

Gift Tag Basket

Here’s how I save time on gift tags as well:

  • Buy different sizes of shipping tags at an office store and a few stamps and ink pads (usually cheaper than craft stores, per tag). I bought a Christmas pack of wood stamps that contained a few phrases, decorative stamps and the important “To” and “From” stamps.
  • Make up a batch of simple tags, adding glitter and embellishments if you’d like. Or not.
  • Reuse the tags from year to year for your immediate family and quickly stamp any new ones needed each year (it takes only about a minute to do 10 tags).  I keep all the tools I need for wrapping (scissors and tape) and labeling in a little basket in the wrapping closet along with the gift bag bin.

Since I started doing this for our tags, I haven’t needed to by tags in years. Which I love.

And before you know it, you will be taking only a few minutes to wrap beautiful presents for your family that look fabulous under the tree!

Do you have any tips for saving time wrapping for the holidays?



  1. says

    hi jami, all my wrapping is done this year, but you reminded me that i used to wrap boxes like this years ago for giving gifts (you know, pre-kids) and everyone used to say how fun they were to open because you just pull off the bow and lift the lid — “like in the movies!” they’d say! thanks for the reminder that i really should revisit this idea. maybe next year, as the youngest still like to RRRRRIP into the paper. :)

    merry christmas to you and yours. it’s been great getting to know you this year.


  2. Donna says

    I recycle last years greeting cards that were sent to me while wrapping gifts. I take off the second page or greeting page and place in my recycling bin. The front of the card, which has the picture is the part I want. I then cut up the front or use it whole depending on size and picture as gift tags. You can typically get the “To” and “From” part some where on the tag. I also use pinking scissors for a finished look. You can also add ribbons and glitter to dress up the tag.So cost for the basic tag is “0” and it looks great.

  3. says

    We’ve begun doing something even easier. Last year I started buying gift boxes with pre-printed designs. I tie them up with fabric ribbons, which get tucked back into the boxes after the gifts are opened. Items that come in white or plain boxes don’t get wrapped either–I just put a pretty ribbon on them. We’ve also got some fabric gift bags. I hardly buy any paper or ribbon any more, either. It’s great!


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