How to Wrap Oddly Shaped Gifts—Without Buying Any More Gift Bags

published Dec 20, 2020
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wrapping paper, scissors, wrapped wine bottle, and string on a table

‘Tis the season for giving gifts to friends, loved ones, neighbors, postal workers, and more. Wrapping square boxes is pretty straightforward, but if you find yourself exchanging strangely shaped gifts this season—bottles, balls, stuffed animals, and more—then you might be scratching your head at how, exactly, to conceal them.

Of course, one quick way is to bundle the gift up in tissue paper and place it in a gift bag. But gift bags are expensive, and you might be more inclined to use up that paper you already have on hand. Never fear! With some sneaky and stylish tricks, you can wrap up nearly any shaped gift using paper, fabric, or other items around the house. Your giftee will be delighted not just with the thought, but also with the presentation. Here’s how to do it right.

If you’re giving wine bottles

With a large piece of butcher paper or leftover gift wrap, you can create your own stunning, handmade package—and frankly, it won’t even matter how expensive or cheap the bottle is inside. You’ll need to follow only a few easy steps:

1. Start by cutting a square that measures two times the length of the wine bottle.

2. Fold the square into a triangle with the tip of the triangle pointing up, and the flat edge across the bottom. Place the wine bottle on either the right or left side of the triangle.

3. Hold the point of the triangle to the side of the bottle, and roll the paper and bottle into the middle of the triangle.

4. Optional: Cut a rectangle out of another piece of paper that is about 2 inches high, and long enough to wrap around the base of the bottle; set aside for later. (You can also use a ribbon.)

5. Begin to fold the other side of the paper triangle back and forth until you reach the center point, creating an accordion on one side.

6. Adjust the paper so that the rolled up side is nice and snug around the bottle, then tape the bottom portion of the accordion fold to the hold both sides together.

7. Wrap the rectangular band (or ribbon) around the bottom of the bottle and tape in place. I also like to tape the band to the bottom of the bottle so that the bottle won’t slip out of the paper.

8. Tie a ribbon around the bottle neck, and your wine is ready to gift.

If you want to give something wrapped in fabric

A vintage scarf or remnant of pretty fabric is perfect to wrap just about anything, no matter the shape—and it’s reusable, too, making this a green gifting option. All you need in addition to the fabric is some pretty ribbon. Here’s how to do it.

1. Lay the scarf flat and place the gift directly in the middle.

2. Fold the bottom of the scarf up to the middle.

3. Fold the top of the scarf down to the  middle.

4. Pull each side together over the middle of the package and tie in place with a pretty ribbon.

If you want to make a gift bag out of paper

Unless you squirrel away piles of gift bags, it seems you can’t ever find the right size at the right time. This seemingly complicated DIY gift bag is actually extremely easy to make—not to mention convenient. All you need is a roll of wrapping paper, some tape, and a pair of scissors. Here’s how to create it.

1. Unroll the paper face down and lay your gift in the middle. Allow for enough room on each side to wrap around the gift, then cut the sheet of paper.

2. Fold each side of the paper in towards the middle so that they overlap slightly, then tape the paper together in the middle.

3. Create the bottom of the bag by folding the lower half up towards the center of the paper. Keep your gift close by to be sure you allow for enough width at the bottom of the bag. Then open the folded portion by placing your fingers in the middle (close to the seam) and slowly pulling the top portion back. The bottom fold should now look like a diamond.

4. Gently press the diamond shape flat to crease the folds.

5. Fold the top point of the diamond back down to the middle, and the bottom point up to the middle so that both points meet.

6. Tape the points.

7. To make the bag a bit sturdier, cut a piece of cardboard to insert in the bottom of the bag. If the gift is lightweight, like a stuffed animal, you might be able to skip this step.

8. Place the gift in the bottom of the bag.

9. Fold over the top half, tape it to the back of the package, and add a pretty ribbon.

If you’re gifting something that’s both oddly shaped and big

Some gifts really do defy wrapping—or, almost. For the extra-weird shapes and oversized gifts, reach for a decorative pillow case. You can reuse it again later (if you’re giving to someone at home—like, say, your kids), or you can call it part of the gift.

I wrapped this guitar in a set of satin pillowcases, which look festive in jewel tones. You can also use a vintage or hand-embroidered pillowcase. Here’s how to make it gift-worthy.

1. Lay the pillowcase flat and set the item on top to be sure it will fit.

2. Steam or iron any wrinkles out of the pillowcases.

3. Place the item inside one pillowcase and pop another over the top so that they overlap—you don’t want anyone peeking inside! Twist the top of the pillowcase and secure with a ribbon to keep it closed.