Wrap a Cardboard Tube:
Gift Wrapping 103

Two methods for gift wrapping a cardboard tube.
It's an easy and interesting container
for rolled paper gifts - and other surprises!

Plain cardboard tubesAre you one of those people (like Diane and me) with a closet full of stuff that you've been saving... "just in case?" (ha ha!) I save empty tubes from paper towels, toilet tissue, kitchen wrap, gift wrap - they make good containers for small, unboxed gifts.

Tubes are good for surprise gifts like jewelry, because people don't expect a humble cardboard roll to contain an elegant gift. And tubes are useful for creating clever disguises for your well-dressed gift. So don't feel guilty about stashing a few with your gift wrapping supplies!

These illustrated instructions will show you how to gift wrap a cardboard tube using two different methods: one better with gift tissue or other thin pliable wraps, the other one better for standard gift wrapping paper.

Let's begin by preparing the gift ...

First, remove the price tag. If your gift is made of paper, roll it. If not, roll the gift in a piece of colored tissue paper, and insert it a short way into one end of your cardboard tube. With white tissue, plug both ends of the tube just tightly enough to hold the gift in place. (The colored tissue indicates which piece of tissue paper contains the gift.)

Which gift wrapping paper is best?

Well, that depends on how you plan to finish the ends of the cardboard roll. Wrap a Cardboard Tube: standard paper, fluffed ends.Method-A leaves a wrapping paper overlap at each end of the tube, which is gathered and tied, and then fluffed. A thin, flexible paper is best, especially for a narrow tube. Tissue wrapping paper, "mylar" and "metallic tissue" work well. A standard paper gift wrap is more difficult to fluff at the tube ends without creating wrinkles, and the reverse side of the paper shows at the ends (see photo).

Wrap a Cardboard Tube: standard paper, flat ends.With Method-B, the gift paper overlap is folded under to make a flat surface on the ends of the cardboard tube. This method is better for standard, non-reversible wrapping paper because the reverse side is concealed. Pretty mini bows, paper flowers, or small self-stick decorations are perfect Method-B accessories for the well-dressed gift.

... and the gift wrapping paper
  • For tissue wrapping paper - You'll need about 3-4 layers of gift tissue. Depending on the size of your cardboard tube, you can fold a single sheet, or two sheets to size.

  • For standard and metallic gift wraps - Fold to a double layer (the extra layer provides extra fluff at each end).

  • Width - The folded wrap should be 1"-2" wider than the tube's circumference, so one rotation will cover the tube. This minimizes puckering and makes the tube easy to unwrap.

  • Length - For Method-A, the paper should overlap each end of the tube by about three times the tube's diameter. For Method-B, the paper should overlap each end by 1 1/2 times the diameter.

Wrapping a Cardboard Tube

Method-A: Fluffy Ends
Wrap a Cardboard Tube: fold paper to sizeWrap a Cardboard Tube: squeeze the paper at the ends to make a neck.
A-1) Wrap the folded gift paper around the tube, ending with the folded edge on top. Tape the seam in two or more places, spacing the pieces of tape evenly.

A-2) At one end of the tube, gather the loose gift tissue to form a neck. Not too close to the rim, please, or you might squeeze the rim out-of-round or tear the paper.

Wrap a Cardboard Tube: tie ribbon around tissue paper neck.Wrap a Cardboard Tube: curl ribbon and fluff the tied-off ends.
A-3) Tie the neck snugly with yarn, ribbon or a pretty cord. Curling ribbon is a good choice. Curl the ends by drawing a blade of your scissors along the inside curve of the ribbon - gently for loose curls and more firmly for tighter curls. A-4) Separate and fluff the tied-off ends. Repeat at the other end of the cardboard tube. This is my favorite look for a tube, and tissue paper is definitely the easiest to work with.

Method-B: Flat Ends
Cardboard tube - paper folded to size.Wrap a Cardboard Tube: push one side of paper overlap slightly into tube.
B-1) Again we begin by wrapping the gift paper around the tube, ending with the folded edge on top for a neat seam. Tape the seam in two or more places, spacing the pieces of tape evenly.

B-2) To finish the ends, press one section of loose tissue paper slightly into the end of the tube. Tuck under the sides as you draw the remaining loose tissue wrap across to cover the end of the tube.

Wrap a Cardboard Tube: fold under edges and tape the end closed.Wrap a Cardboard Tube: finished end decorated with small bow.
B-3) Make the paper ends as smooth and flat as you can. Fold under any exposed edges so that only the right side of the wrapping paper is visible. Then use double-stick tape to hold the folded gift wrap in place at the end of the cardboard tube.

B-4) Decorate both ends, covering any irregularities in the paper. Double-stick tape is strong enough to hold the decorations in place. A gift tag string can be taped under the decoration. Or, you can affix a label directly onto the wrapped tube.

I mentioned that tubes are useful for creating clever disguises for a well-chosen gift. This one's a family favorite: Make a Cardboard Tube Candle.

A versatile cardboard tube is great
for wrapping a small, unboxed gift. Go ahead
and save a few, "just in case!"

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Logo photo by Jane M. Sawyer, courtesy of morguefile.com
Other photos courtesy of Libby Graphics, all rights reserved.