First off a couple of apologies - one - sorry it's been a bit quiet this week on the Really Pretty Useful front - I've been meaning to post this all week but I've been struck down with the pre-Christmas bug/cold thing that everyone seems to have.
And two - I apologise whole heartedly for the appearance of my crabby-old-lady hands in the pictures in this post. I actually had a manicure a day after I shot this and now my nails are all red and festive like - but never mind. Crabby-old-lady hands it is. Hopefully it'll make you feel better about yours.
I have had several requests for this post (mainly from men) - so those of you thinking "this is hardly new and inspiring content here love" (mostly women) - bear with. Think of it as a charitable donation to your Christmas - after all if I teach your husband how to wrap a half decent present you might get something that looks beautiful this year - even if it is a blender. And/or he might actually be able to help you wrap stuff at 10.30pm on Christmas Eve. You can thank me later.
I've kept it simple - you won't find any double sided tape or velvet bows here. Just a simple step-by-step about how to fold the paper and make it look pretty. So if you can fold paper you can wrap presents. You will need:
Wrapping paper - you don't have to spend a fortune, mine is from Wilko but bear in mind that the really cheap stuff can be really thin and tear easily. The very easiest stuff to use is kraft paper which John Lewis sell in big old rolls. It's thick, luxurious and not ridiculously expensive. Nice sharp scissors Tape - I use the opaque stuff not the shiny transparent stuff (a tape dispenser is really handy too) Bakers twine - I got mine from Papermash purveyor of all things lovely (you can also use plain string, ribbon, raffia, anything you can tie in a bow really) Tags - I love luggage labels that you can then decorate yourself or just leave plain Washi tape - for decorating your tag - I got mine from here, but Paperchase also have a large selection.
Of course you don't need to faff about sourcing everything individually. Most retailers will sell you a pack of wrap with bows and ribbon thrown it. That's totally fine to use. What's important is that there is a colour theme of some kind going on.
One note about wrapping - if your gift isn't an easy shape to wrap put it in a box and wrap the box. If you can't find a box then stick it in a pretty gift bag and you're done. If you have a tube or round gift follow up to step 2 leaving a longer length of paper at each end. Then gather up the paper as if you were making a cracker and tie with ribbon at each end - it's easier than trying to mould the paper around the shape.
1. Place your gift on your paper making sure you leave a good three inches of paper at the short ends of your gift and that your paper will cover the whole box . Cut the paper neatly and as straight as possible. I do this by eye but you could use a ruler if you wanted to.
2. Fold up one long edge and then the other, pulling it tight around the gift. I fold over the cut edge that will be on show on the bottom of the gift for extra neatness (it's a great way to hide jagged or uneven cutting). Tape down.
3. Turn your gift so one end is facing you. Push one side of the paper in towards the middle. This should create a triangle on the top and bottom. Carefully crease the edges of each triangle to ensure the paper fits neatly around your gift.
4. You may find that your triangle isn't quite a triangle and has a corner of paper poking out (see above). Fold it over to form the triangle's point. Repeat on the other side to make a triangle on the top and bottom.
5. Fold the top triangle down and then the bottom one up over the top. I like to square off the tip so I fold it down so that there is a straight line across the end of the present. Tape down. Repeat on the other end - it's much easier on the second side because your gift won't move inside the paper. Your present is now wrapped. You could just stick a shop bought bow on and be very proud of yourself.
6. Or - to tie a simple bow around it. Place a long piece of string over the top of your gift.
7. Then turn your gift and the string over so the underside of your gift is facing up towards you. Bring the two ends of the string up and into the centre of the present. Twist them in the middle to bring them down the sides of the gift.
8. Flip the present back over and poke the ends of the string under the string that lies over the stop of the present - tie a knot to keep it all in place. Then tie a simple bow. You can leave it at that if you like or you can add a tag.
9. I used a strip of washi tape on the bottom of my tag to fancy it up a bit. Then I removed its white string, undid my bow on the present and tied my tag on. It's easier to write your tag before you put it on your gift.
Once you've mastered this simple style you can tie on sprigs of rosemary, spruce or holly, pine cones, jingle bells, mini baubles etc etc. It's really easy to be creative with gift wrapping once you know the basics. If you're really fancy you can use double sided tape to fix your paper in place for a totally seamless finish.
If you're wrapping for children forget all about ribbons and fancy tags - they don't appreciate it at all.