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20 Last-minute gift wrap ideas using paper grocery bags & other household items

Posted by Melissa Massello  December 24, 2013 08:17 AM

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sweetest_occasion_duct_tape_ribbon.jpgPhoto: Duck tape ribbon, The Sweetest Occasion

It's Christmas Eve and all your presents are purchased, but suddenly you realize nothing is wrapped. No reason to run to the store when these 20 elegantly modern and eco-friendly gift wrap ideas cleverly use paper grocery bags (aka kraft paper) and other household items in festive designs, spreading holiday cheer without spending a cent — or leaving the house!

Once you have your paper grocery store bags cut down the sides and ready to wrap — using the same technique students have used on textbooks for generations — add whimsical, personal touches and pops of color with these everyday household items and craft supply scraps, designed in clever ways & shared by bloggers from around the world:


1. Kraft paper and bakers twine, postage stamps
We found this "North Pole Parcels" idea from LMNOP in Australia over on Cool Mom Picks, and just think it has such a timelessly Polar Express/Letters to Santa feel to it that kids of all ages, even if they're just kids at heart, will find themselves lit up like the Christmas tree they found their presents under.

2. Kraft paper and scraps of colorful yarn
Popular crafting book author Melanie Falick of STC Craft knows a few things about reuse and design, and we just love the easy, quirky coziness of these brown paper packages tied up in colorful string scraps.

3. Kraft paper and ribbon made from old VHS tapes
Inspired by green designer Danny Seo and his book, Simply Green Giving, this gift wrap idea over on Shoestring uses kraft paper and the black ribbon taken from the inside of an old VHS tape.


4. Kraft paper and Post-It notes, black pen
A pretty send-up of spare office supplies from Vixy Blu in Romania, this gift wrap idea simply uses a black pen and Post-It notes cut into flowers then glued to kraft paper.

5. Kraft paper and colorful ribbons made from glossy magazines
No need to run out and buy cheap plastic ribbon bows made in China when this elegant and eco-friendly tutorial from 100 Layer Cake uses just a pair of scissors and some glossy magazines from your recycling bin.

6. Kraft paper and Duck Tape
This simple DIY "ribbon" from The Sweetest Occasion uses red Duck Tape and kraft paper to the effect of executing every Christmas fantasy, ever. Just make sure that the gift wrapped inside manages to surprise and delight with this introduction!


7. Kraft paper and a pencil eraser, ink pad
Sweet, simple, and stunningly festive, this gift wrap idea from The House That Lars Built will seem familiar to any student who remembers bringing a Number 2 and a pencil case to school every day for a reason. Whether it's white "snowflakes" or colorful "ornaments," your gift will be wrapped and holiday ready in no time.

8. Kraft paper and crayons, washi tape
A wonderfully inventive idea from Lines Across for kids who are having a hard time making it to Christmas morning, this kraft paper project gives them the tools to design their own wrapping while waiting for the big reveal.

9. Kraft paper and old sweaters
Using cuffs and waistbands from thrift store or shrunken sweaters, this repurposed gift wrap idea from Boxwood Clippings is as sensible as it is chic: just cut the elasticized knit and secure over kraft paper-wrapped boxes. Bonus credit: use stray yarns and a fork to create pom-poms.


10. Kraft paper and colorful washi tape
Perfect for the hipster or teenager who is in the phase where all things traditional are painfully cheesy, this colorful washi tape and kraft paper gift wrap idea from old sweet song shows them you're paying attention.

11. Kraft or plain paper and colorful sequins
Leave it to the clever crew over at in Cambridge to add extra sparkle to any occasion. Plain paper wrapping plus craft bond spray adhesive and a handful of colorful sequins mean instant party, party, party.

12. Kraft paper and printed Instagram photos, neon yarn
A simple yet super thoughtful and modern style from Say Yes to Hoboken, this kraft paper idea pairs hip neon yarn with printed Instagram photos cut into tags using a tag hole punch (or scissors).


13. Kraft paper and letters cut from maps & sheet music
A frameable and personalized project worthy of being a gift in and of itself, this gift wrap idea from Bugs and Fishes places letters cut from maps or sheet music over kraft paper to a heartwarming effect.

14. Kraft paper and lace
Equally perfect under a minimalist or traditional Christmas tree, this gift wrap DIY from Sweet Paul Magazine uses a scrap of lace laid over kraft paper & then hot glued into place.

15. Kraft paper and thrift store clothing
Like three gifts in one, this gift wrap tutorial from Country Living shows how to layer & tie an old or thrifted dress shirt over a kraft paper wrapped box — vintage brooch optional.

16. Kraft paper and hand-cut stamps from wine corks
From our collection of easy, 5-minute DIYs here on DIY Boston, these stamps are an easy way to personalize any kraft paper-wrapped package in no time at all. Bonus: you could even tie the stamp to the package with ribbon as an additional gift when you're done!

17. Scrap wrapping paper & a picture frame
From our story on uses for leftover wrapping paper, this upcycled gift idea could easily be replicated in an extra luggage tag for a personalized tag on a present, or just placed on top of a package instead of inside a frame. As is, it's a wonderful last-minute gift idea for a neighbor, teacher, or Yankee Swap!



These last three gift wrap ideas utilize kraft paper with ribbon, yarn or twine and free download & print gift tag sheets from popular design blogs:

18. Free holiday tags from Sass & Peril
In classic designs and muted colors, these wonderful (and easy to cut) free downloadable gift tags from graphic designer Shannon Kennedy require no fancy hole punches or scissor work, and look great strung with simple bakers twine.

19. Free gift tags from Sea Urchin Studio
These whimsical illustrated designs from husband-wife design team Dan and Sara Ardeleano are reminiscent of classic children's books and sure to make any recipient smile big & wide, featuring angels, owls, smiling glass ornaments, and more.

20. Free holiday tags from Design*Sponge
Even the snobbiest of style mavens will love these gift markers designed by Julia Rothman for Grace Bonney's popular design blog, featuring classic illustrations including nutcrackers, mittens on string, snowmen, reindeer, poinsettias, and more.

For more ideas, check out our Cheap & Green Gift Wrap board on Pinterest — and for post-Christmas ideas, check out our 13 uses for leftover wrapping paper.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the Authors

Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out More »
Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »

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