Creative Gift Wrapping

If there was an award for best gift wrapping, I would never even see it, much less get to take it home. I guess I don't have the skill, but I have the interest.

So I'm always looking for ways to make my gift presentation both easier and prettier, whether it's by using (or reusing) something I already have or learning so way to save money and still make something cute. Here are a few ideas.

* Experiment with different papers: sheet music, an old sewing pattern, hand-stamped paper or the comic section of the Sunday paper. You can even branch off from paper and use a new shirt, vintage fabric or a hand-sewn gift bag.

* Don't buy ribbon. Use what you have around the house like twine, raffia, beads on a cord, recycled bows from years past or embroidery floss.

* Add some extras. Tie a set of measuring spoons on a gift for a cook. Attach a sheet of stickers or a pair of decorative scissors for a crafter. Add a pen for a writer. Or just tuck a Christmas floral pick into the ribbon for some festive spirit.

* Use what you already have. If you're a scrapbooker or paper crafter, use your scraps to decorate gift containers. Clean out oatmeal boxes, coffee cans and empty jars, then cover them, wrap them and tie them. Then fill them with tissue paper, gifts and candy. This makes it so easy to personalize your gift.

* Make them coordinate. If you have several gifts for the same person, wrap them in identical paper, stack them and tie them together with coordinating ribbon.

* Give a keepsake. When you're done wrapping and ready to put ribbon on, tie on a Christmas ornament. They'll get two presents in one: the gift in the box and the ornament to hang on the tree.

* Create your own gift tags. Cut a 3"x6" piece of paper and fold to make a square. Decorate with stickers, stamps and other embellishments. Have the whole family sign the inside to make it even more special.

* Skip wrapping altogether. Make a gift basket instead. Find several items along a single theme (kitchen, baby, pets) and tuck them all into a basket with some cookies, chocolate and cocoa. Tie a huge bow to the front and you're ready to go!

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