5 Unusual (and Cost-Saving) Ways to Wrap Gifts

iStock / iStock

While it’s fun to get a present no matter what kind of packaging it comes in, there’s a special joy in receiving a beautifully wrapped gift. Elegant wrapping shows an element of creativity and care that simply sticking something in a store-bought bag cannot, and makes a gift feel that much more unique. And it doesn’t have to be pricey. In fact, DIY options can often be cheaper (not to mention more environmentally friendly) than buying rolls of wrapping paper. Not sure where to start? Here are five ways to make sure your wrapping job is as wonderful as the gift itself.


Newspaper makes great gift wrap, since it’s easy to fold and comes in relatively large sheets. For a whimsical gift, wrap your package up in the comics section, or look for eye-catching photography and ads. Some crafty bloggers recommend picking up foreign-language newspapers to create a more unusual presentation, but any of your local papers will do.

While magazines can be a bit harder to use on gifts since the pages are typically fairly small, the colorful, high-contrast pages make a fun addition to your pile of gifts, and they have the glossy quality of traditional gift wrap, too. You’ll probably just need to tape a few pages together to cover your entire gift.


To spruce up gifts wrapped in plain paper, add a sprig of herbs or flowers. Wrap your gift as you normally would, tying it up with a piece of twine or a ribbon. When you’re knotting your twine, use the excess to tie a sprig of something green to the top of the box. We recommend something like lavender or rosemary, but a flower will work, too. To really get into the holiday spirit, you can use a small cut from a pine tree. (You could even use a cut from the back of your Christmas tree or wreath.) This little addition will make any gift look fancy, even if it’s wrapped in brown paper from a shopping bag.


Still have a hefty book of road maps sitting in the back of your car, or a box full of city maps from that long-ago trip? Map wrapping paper isn’t just for geography nerds and travel addicts—the thick paper is sturdy, eye-catching, and colorful. Plus, fold-out maps are big enough to cover many gifts that you want to wrap. For a personal touch, you can highlight special places or routes that are meaningful to the recipient.


Got some plain paper and an ink stamp? You’re only a few minutes away from patterned wrapping paper. Stamp your shapes close together to create a tight-knit pattern, or go wild and embrace a more irregular look. Don’t have stamps lying around? Don’t worry—there are several ways to make them yourself. One is to cut out pieces of cardboard (stacking them and gluing them together for stability) to serve as makeshift stamps. Once you have your shape ready, brush paint or ink onto the flat surface and stamp away.


No matter what your wrapping situation is, you’ll probably need a gift tag. With a pair of scissors and a little creativity, you can create tags out of anything made of sturdy paper or cardboard. Painted your house recently? Use those paint sample chips. Received a greeting card with a fun image or pattern on the front? Cut the image out and make it into a tag. (Patterned holiday cards work especially well.) If the other side of your future tag has text or branding that you don’t love, cover it up with colored paper or scraps of old gift wrap cut into the same shape. You can tape your tag directly onto your wrapped gift or use a hole punch and a ribbon to tie it.

Smart shoppers find ways to make gifts feel more special without spending more than they have to. Smart shoppers also use Discover, which automatically matches the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. Terms Apply. Learn more at Discover.