Paper Gift Bags: Gift Wrapping 101

Paper gift bags come in awesome designs!
For a well-dressed gift,
no wrapping technique is easier.

Gift bags have become extremely popular in the past several years. No wonder! ...look at all these advantages:

  • A quick and easy gift wrapping solution
  • Widely available in card shops, pharmacies, department stores
  • Full range of designs for all occasions
  • Usually include a gift tag - sometimes gift tissue & ribbon too
  • Flat bottom allows gift bag to stand upright
  • Convenient handles for easy lifting and carrying
  • Sturdy and reusable
  • Can be stored flat in a box or drawer

Paper gift bags have a few disadvantages (compared to gift boxes) that should be considered:

  • Available in many sizes, but only for small-medium sized gifts.
  • Largest and nicest gift bags are expensive
  • Easily tipped if a heavy gift inside does not sit flat
  • Cannot be stacked for carrying with other gifts
  • Little protection for transport of fragile gifts
  • Definitely not suitable for shipping

Nonetheless, paper gift bags are a wonderful gift wrapping solution when their disadvantages are not at issue. The huge variety in gift bag designs makes it simple to produce a well-dressed gift. Begin with a glossy solid color or a design that will please your recipient, then you can dress it up or down with your choice of a filler and a decorative tie.

And before you begin, remember to remove the price tag! - from the bag and from your gift.

Paper gift bags: line the bottom with crumpled tissue paperPaper gift bags: position the gift, centering the weight
1) Make a cushion in the bottom of your gift bag with a sheet of loosely crumpled tissue wrapping paper. For a fragile gift, make the cushion extra-thick.

2) Place your gift on the tissue paper cushion. Try to keep the weight of the gift at the center, to make the gift bag as stable as possible.

Paper gift bags: add crumpled tissue to hold the gift in placePaper gift bags: shape the tissue for the top of the bag.
3) Crumple another sheet of tissue paper around the gift, packing only firmly enough to prevent the gift from shifting. Add more tissue paper if needed to conceal the gift, or to prop up a tippy gift, or to fill the extra space in oversized paper gift bags.

4) Top with color-coordinated tissue - loosely grasp the center of the sheet, pointing the edges and corners upward. Depending on the size of the gift bag and how full it is, two or more half- or quarter-sized sheets may give the best coverage.

Arrange coordinating tissue at the  top of the gift bag.Paper gift bags: Tie the handles and affix a gift tag.
5) Position the tissue or tissue pieces into the gift bag with the centers pointed down and the corners pointed upward. Use enough pieces to hold each other in place, and allow their edges and corners extend slightly over the top of the bag.

6) Tie floppy handles together loosely with a ribbon - to hold them in position for lifting, or to hold the tissue paper in place, or just for decoration. Hang a coordinating gift tag from the handle if your gift bag does not already have one. Looks great!

Other gift bag filler materials:

  • Fancy gift tissue with prints or sparkles, polypropylene tissue with holographic designs.

  • Curling ribbon curls have a jolly appearance! Cascading bunches of curling ribbon are sold as bows, but it's cheap and easy to tie strands into bunches and curl them yourself. Draw a scissors blade along the inside curve of the ribbon: not too firmly - looser curls will require less ribbon to fill the gift bag.

  • Paper gift bags: tissue and cello mixed fillingCello wrap adds interest to paper gift bags. Use a few squares each of cellophane wrap and tissue wrapping paper and alternate them, one with the cello on top, the next with the cello underneath. The gift tissue conceals the contents of the bag, and the cello contributes a shiny accent.

  • Paper shred or cello Easter basket grass is jolly-looking too, but individual strands tend to separate and stick to the gift. Shred/grass is better as an underlying cushion than a filler for paper gift bags.

One last tip: be on the lookout for post-season sales
of paper gift bags and tissue wrapping paper. You will
thank yourself often for keeping a supply on hand!

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