Gift Tag Tips & Techniques

The gift tag and its message always get noticed.
Here are creative ideas for tags and labels
to accessorize the well-dressed gift.

Before we get to the templates and instructions, here are some general thoughts about labeling your gift package. When you need a gift tag in a hurry, "creative" might not be on your agenda! So it's a good idea to think ahead right now. Here are four ways to keep it simple:

    Gift tag made from gift wrap.
  1. Use a bit of wrapping paper to match your gift perfectly. Cut a rectangle with a small element of the design on the bottom or right-hand side. Fold in half (top or left-hand fold) so the design lands on the front. Add a length of string or narrow ribbon if you wish, or simply tape the tag to your gift.

  2. Use a greeting card, and keep a few all-purpose cards on hand. For a formal gift, or one with a very private message, you'll be glad to have the envelope. A standard greeting card is fine, or you can pick up a few small cards with envelopes next time you're at a card shop, or Paper Source, or a florist.

  3. Boxes of purchased gift tags.
  4. Use purchased tags and labels. Some gift wraps and gift bags conveniently include matching tags. Sheets of self-stick gift labels are quick and easy. Paper Source carries nice holiday, specialty, and all-purpose gift tags, some with envelopes.

  5. Simplest of all, don't bother with a tag. Write the recipient's name directly on the wrapped gift, or perhaps on the ribbon. It's wise to test a sample first, to be sure the ink doesn't smear or run. Here's a chance to show off that beautiful calligraphy!

Gift Tag Materials and Tools

When you finally do have some free time, making gift tags is a satisfying project that doesn't require a lot of space or expensive equipment. You can get as fancy as you wish, of course, but this is a project that kids can handle too.

Choosing the materials

  • Blank, pre-cut hang tags with strings, in kraft, manila, or colored cardstock, can be found at office supply stores. Paper Presentation has a wonderful selection at reasonable prices. And Paper Direct offers a variety of blank, pre-cut or micro-perf'd products (e.g., business cards) that are lovely for making gift tags.

  • Or, cut your own - "Index" cardstock or cover-weight paper will produce a nice sturdy tag, but you may prefer paper for making foldover tags. Office supply and paper stores often have swatches to help you decide, and most shops that sell scrapbooking materials will offer good choices too.

  • A simple shape is best for a gift tag.Simple shapes make the best patterns - you can find them in coloring-books and sometimes on gift wrap. Art supply stores carry plastic templates for geometric shapes, or you can trace seasonal and other shapes from cookie cutters. In fact, you can find all sorts of simple shapes around the house, such as the measuring cup in the photo. That shape could be decorated like a Christmas tree ornament, or maybe someone's face and hat.

  • To shape a foldover gift tag,
    A gift tag with the fold at the top.simply fold a sheet of cardstock or paper, and decide (depending on the design) whether you want the fold to be on the top or the side of your tag. Allow the top or side of your pattern to overlap the fold slightly. Then trace and cut the tag, taking care not to cut away the fold.

  • Recycled greeting cards are an economical resource for beautiful gift tags. Look for cards that are blank on the reverse side, or for designs with adjacent blank space for writing the "To" and "From" info on the front. Cut the tag in the shape of the design, or in a simple rectangle.

Consider purchasing a few useful tools...

  • Scissors and cutters - Scissors are a reliable old standby (please don't use your good fabric shears to cut paper), or you may prefer an X-Acto knife or rotary cutter, along with a self-healing cutting mat. Or, for simple straight lines, a mini-trimmer.

  • Gift tag: special scissors make fancy edges.Decorative edger scissors add an artistic touch to a tags and labels, and older kids will love using them too. Edgers by Fiskars are reasonably priced - choose one or two, or a whole set. You can also find edger scissors where scrapbooking supplies are sold.

  • Paper punches - A 1/8" or even 1/16" punch makes the best-sized hole for a string; the larger, standard-hole punch is better for ribbon. Also consider decorative-shape punches, so you can use the punched-out pieces to decorate your gift labels and tags.

...and stockpile some decorating supplies

Art and crafts supply stores are now carrying wonderful goodies to embellish the gift tag for your well-dressed gift. Check the scrapbooking and/or card-making supplies for some of these:

  • Glue, glue sticks, double-stick tape
  • Liquid markers, metallic-ink pens, calligraphy pens
  • Glitter, plain or fancy-shaped sequins
  • Stamps and stamping supplies
  • Stickers, self-stick greeting card decorations
  • Tiny silk flowers, greens, berries
  • Metallic leaf (paint-on liquid or rub-on sheets)
  • Paper doilies, colored feathers, you name it!

Then wander over to the sewing notions for by-the-yard trimmings: ribbons, rick-rack, braid, and so on - they make handsome borders.

Templates and Instructions

Here are links to some print-your-own templates that are available online, ready to download or print directly. The templates are free for your own personal use, and some can be customized:

It's not just for "to" and "from" info ...
use your tag or label as a creative accent, or to
help coordinate your gift presentation.

top of: Creative Gift Tag Ideas
back to Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas
Home Page

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