The Junk Parlor

It probably comes to no surprise that I like to get all of my shopping done and then wrap everything at one time!  Batch work not only works for business, but it also works for our personal lives!

I do not have a designated gift wrapping station, although I’ve seen others with some pretty elaborate ones!  I rarely give gifts or wrap gifts and rather gift bags and tissue paper seem to be my go to!  So designating a spot for gift wrapping doesn’t seem practical.

Kids don’t want to open a gift bag, they want wrapping paper around a box to rip open!  So for Christmas I make a temporary gift wrapping station.

I’ve learned a few gift wrapping tips over the years and I’m going to share them with you. I’m guessing there is one tip that is going to be new to you and something you hadn’t thought of, but we will see!  Let me know in the comments!

Gift Wrapping Tips

Stand Up

There was a time when I would crouch in my bedroom one evening with the door shut wrapping gifts.  Carpet fibers would get stuck in the tape.  Scissors wouldn’t cut straight lines. I’d be getting up and down a million times because something was out of reach.  My neck and back would be hurting from bending over.  All of these issues would make me very crabby!  And that is why I hate wrapping gifts.  I have very bad memories of that experience.  That is until I learned from my mistakes.

Now I wrap gifts at my workbench, the kitchen table or at the new house, I used the kitchen island.  The taller the better because that means less bending over.

Gather Supplies

Wrapping Paper

I never have extra wrapping paper.  I always use what I have and if I’m a little short one year, I let some of the box show through or start using gift bags!  I always think that I will thrift some wrapping paper, but then wait to long to purchase it and then the stores don’t have any. So this year I got mine from Walmart.

I got 2 kinds, both are reversible. I don’t think the two reds work, but with the one roll I only used the green striped side. The other roll had red polka dots on one side and stripes on the other. By the time I got to Walmart, the wrapping paper was pretty picked over and what the store had was different than what I could find online.



Buy a vintage tape dispenser!!  Yes, a vintage dispenser is a game changer!  Why? Because it only takes ONE hand.  I used to buy the little scotch tape dispensers.  You hold it in one hand and rip the tape with the other.  But when you are making folds on the end of your package and want to keep the paper tight the disposable dispensers don’t help the situation! You have to let go of the paper you just folded to get tape!  They do make similar dispensers to my vintage one, but they aren’t quite as heavy duty.  Remember old things were made to last!


Sharp scissors make everything better.  Do you remember how it feels to successfully slide the scissors across the length of the paper making a smooth cut and the scissors NOT snagging!  If you’ve ever done it successfully then you know that feeling of success you get when it happens!

The only way you are going to make that happen is with a sharp blade.

I have used a small little cutter that I had from my scrapbooking days, but to use that you have to have a mat down underneath it, so I just use scissors.  But, that is a possibility.  And if you have a big mat, then you can buy a rotary cutter too!

And just in case you didn’t know!  Only use these tools on paper.  So whatever tools you get for gift wrapping be sure not to use them for anything else!!  Don’t cut fabric, food, don’t cut open a bag, etc.  It’s very important for sharpness that you only use the scissors or other cutting tools on the same type of items!!


Because I sell and ship vintage items I always have a lot of boxes on hand!  I reuse boxes to ship my vintage items, so we save every box we get!  

Somehow my kids have gotten really into clothing.  They did not get this bug from me, but I’m happy they love to shop.  One reason is they both have jobs and are using their own money!  Another reason is, that means lots of shoe boxes for me to use for shipping! Or during this time of year for gift wrapping!

Why do I like to wrap things in boxes?  It’s easier to do, looks nicer, and allows for deception!  My kids don’t touch all of the packages like they used too, but if you wrap a t-shirt or sweatshirt or socks by themselves and not in a box, then it’s really easy to guess what the item is.  

So I prefer to have boxes on hand to wrap gifts and then yes, Christmas morning, I’m going around salvaging all of these boxes so I can use them to ship product!

Funny story about deception…my dad ALWAYS does random funny things to my mom when he wraps gifts.  One year he wrapped a 6 pack of pop and probably used an entire roll of tape after he added layers of cardboard over the bottles!

One year he wrapped a big box with rocks and random things in the house to disguise the real gift, a small box of earrings.  These are just a couple of the ones that come to mind.  

Gift Tags

I am the Queen of frugal, so I never buy tags.  Some years I may take scraps of wrapping paper, fold them in half and tape them to a package with a name on it.  Other years I write right on the package.

Our packages always get signed Iowa Johnson’s.

Cut the Full Length

Once you have a spot where you can stand to wrap and you have gathered all of your supplies, it is time to wrap!

No matter the size of the box, I like to cut my wrapping paper the full length of the roll. Then, you have a couple options if you don’t need all of that paper. One option is to wrap the box anyway. Meaning that you might end up covering a side or 2 of the box with 2 layers of wrapping paper instead of one.

If I have purchased thin or translucent wrapping paper then I might do this to hide any logos from the box that are showing through. Most of the time however, I will simply cut the paper after I wrap it around the box once. I do have small packages to wrap and often times end up using these smaller pieces for those boxes. If I don’t use them, then I can use them as filler instead of tissue paper in gift bags. Or I will use it for name tags.

Center Your Box

Before cutting the paper I try to make a calculated cut by taking the raw edge of the paper and folding it 1/2 to 3/4’s of the way up the edge of the box. This is the short side of the box. The long side of the box is what I “roll” the paper around. Once I know how much extra I need on one side, then I eye ball the same amount on the other end of the package. Next, I cut the entire length of the paper roll.

I center the box in the middle of the paper, lining up one edge of paper to the edge of the box. I like to add tape at this point so that the wrapping paper stays straight. I then roll the paper around the box. Once I’ve gotten around the box with one layer of gift wrapping paper, then I decide if I should cut it. If there is enough extra paper that I could use to wrap another gift, I cut the paper slightly larger than I need to cover the entire box in wrapping paper. If there is only a few extra inches, then I do not cut the excess off, but instead just wrap around the box more, so that some areas now have two layers of wrapping paper.

No matter if I do or don’t trim the paper, I do fold it! It’s very hard to see in the photos below, but the picture on the left is just a raw cut piece of wrapping paper. But an easy way to add some “pretty” and a professional touch is to simply fold the raw edge of paper. I’m sure some of you are slightly annoyed that my stripes don’t line up, BUT the seem always goes on the bottom, so no one will ever see it!

Pretty Packages

There have been years I’ve spent extra time on our gift wrapping.  These are actually some of my most pinned blog posts!  And I do think they turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.  See one style HERE.  And another year’s look HERE.

No matter if you make your packages pretty or just add basic wrapping paper, these tips are ones to follow!  Do you have any other tips I should add?  Leave them in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Gift Wrapping Tips”

  1. Rachel - Tea and Forget-me-nots

    I need to buy a tape dispenser. I had one growing up and now I struggle with tape and scissors, I realise what I’m missing. Thanks for all the tips.

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