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If you can cut, fold, and tape, you can master these three paper techniques—and give your ribbon the month off.


Photos by Levi Brown
THE LOOK

PLEATS AND PLAIDS

For flat-stacking boxes with origami crispness, channel your inner child. (Remember folding paper fans in health class?) Pleated bands or tightly layered patterns promise big oohs for little effort.

PLEATING HOW-TO

1. Wrap the gift. For a band similar to those shown, cut a piece of complementary paper (featuring one or more colors from the main wrap) at least 8 inches wide. Fold it accordion-style (flipping back and forth), alternating 1-inch folds with ½-inch folds.

2. Wrap the pleated band around the gift. Secure with double-stick tape.

LAYERED-WRAP HOW-TO

    1. Wrap the gift. Next, cover a little less than half the box with a paper in a different pattern that coordinates. You can just eyeball it—no ruler required. The break will look deliberate and styled no matter where it lands, as long as it’s not exactly in the middle.

    2. Tuck a tag in the flap.

THE LOOK

FRINGE AND FRILLS

A nod to the classics: ribbony loops, tinsel-like tassels, and a lit-up tree.

RIBBON HOW-TO

1. Cut a paper strip about three times the box’s length. Form a loop at one end, staple or glue the bottom, and repeat to add more loops.

2. Wrap the rest of the paper around one corner of the box and secure it with double-stick tape. Or trim the unlooped part and tape the bow on top with double-stick tape (see orange-and-blue box).

TASSEL HOW-TO

1. Cut 1-by-3-inch paper strips.

2. Holding the strip horizontally, fringe each by making cuts close together, reaching almost to the top.

3. Roll each and secure at the top with glue.

4. With a fine-tip black marker, draw three arcs on the wrapped gift’s surface. Glue on the tassels for a bunting design.

TREE HOW-TO

1. Cut 3 triangles in slightly different sizes. Overlap them to form a tree. Secure with double-sided tape.

2. Cut 3 small paper strips of equal length. Fold each accordion-style, then fold each in half to yield 3 fans. Glue them to each other to form a circle.

3. Glue the circle to the tree.

THE LOOK

SURPRISE SILHOUETTES

Bring scenic or figurative paper to life with charming pop-ups—serious wow factor for both kids and adults.

POP-UP HOW-TO

1. Cut a piece of gift wrap and position the box so that the cutouts will land where you want them. (It’s helpful to trace the outline of the box in pencil.)

2. To create pop-ups, you’ll need to cut about three-quarters of the way around each shape, leaving the bottom of the form attached. If you’re an amateur crafter and it’s a basic shape (like the triangle trees on the first scissors. Poke the point through the back of the paper and cut out the forms. If you’re a skilled crafter with an intricate design (like the sledder shown here), you’ll get more precision with an X-acto knife. (Lay a plastic cutting board on the surface first.)

3. Wrap the gift. Fold up each shape, pressing hard on the crease so that each stands up.