Pretty packages for Christmas

First impressions matter, even with gifts. Wrap a present and tie it with a bow, and you send a message to the recipient that he or she is worthy of extra time and care. Of course, the opposite is true too (all you gift-bag devotees, take note!). Design genius Tom Scheerer said, “The wrapping is at least as important as the gift,” and I couldn’t agree more.

So here are a few gift-wrap and tag ideas to take your gifts over the top this year:

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Traditional gets preppy. Red and green are fab, but if you add a little pink, coral, and chartreuse, you get a fresh, updated look. Wood tags are a fun touch that references the faux-bois trend (well, faux bois isn’t really a trend, but it’s popular now!).

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Traditional gets whimsical. Plaid is possibly the perfect pattern, and it’s so popular now, so stock up on plaid and checked paper while you can. Add some fun with a complementary polka-dot paper.

I have to mention the tags above: An old history teacher of mine hand-decorated these for the Festival of Trees. They are divine! Not all of us are artists, but we can use our best handwriting and best pens when labeling tags. Whatever you do, don’t write names using a ballpoint pen; as my teacher-friend often says, that’s so tacky.

plaid gifts

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Codes for Christmas. My husband and his brothers used to peek at their presents, so his mom stopped putting names on tags and opted to give the kids code names—one might be Blitzen and another Donner, for instance. The boys didn’t know which gifts were theirs until Christmas Day.

These number tags from IKEA allow you to do the same thing. Or if you aren’t worried about being sneaky, you could use the one for your oldest, the two for your second born, and so on.

Another easy option is initial tags. I bought a set of 52 lettered circles on sale at Target for $2.50.

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Tagged with photos. Instead of tags, tuck a photo of the recipient under the ribbon. It’s like a little present on your present.

And of course, you can decorate your packages with pompom trim, twine, twigs, evergreen and boxwood branches, vintage ornaments (or dollar-store ones), jingle bells, bottle-brush trees, paper snowflakes, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.

I didn’t buy a single bit of ribbon or a set of tags this year; instead, I stockpile good stuff during the off-season when it’s on clearance. That way I have lots to play with come December and don’t have to add yet another thing to my shopping list.

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Do you wrap gifts? What papers do you prefer? And what do you use for tags? Get yourself some good supplies, and you’ll enjoy your gift-wrapping marathon much more! •

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