Posted 14th Dec 2016
Decorative bags and snowflake gift wrap
Christmas motifs can be easily added to plain brown paper bags. Simply use a pencil and biscuit cutter to mark out the shape, and then cut it out using small, sharp embroidery scissors. Sugar paper, golden crepe paper or patterned wrapping paper can then be stuck on from the inside and the bags filled with gifts and decorated with evergreen twigs. Home-made gift vouchers can be attractively presented by wrapping them in decorative sheets of music. This packaging can even be made at the last minute, just before the presents are handed out.
Wrapping paper with a spray paint design requires a bit more effort, but the end result is beautiful. Draw snowflakes on card or draw round biscuit cutters and cut the shapes out with embroidery scissors. Start by putting some blue paint on a plate, then using a toothbrush, push the paint through a sieve with rapid movements, spraying it over the paper and templates. Once the blue paint is dry, do the same with white paint; then leave to dry and decorate with blue ribbons and add holly leaves as gift tags.
The sieving technique
It is worth practising first on a piece of paper to work out the right quantities of paint and avoid big blobs of paint landing on the wrapping paper. If it is easier not to use a sieve, simply spray the paint by running your index finger across the toothbrush bristles. Light stars are created by simply spraying the blue over the templates onto the wrapping paper. A darker silhouette can be created by placing the templates (once the blue paint is dry) onto the blue-sprayed paper and spraying once again with white paint. The inside of the star is then blue.
Gold Christmas trees
Biscuit cutters can be used to make festive wrapping paper in no time at all. Lay out Christmas tree biscuit cutters of various sizes on a sheet of brown paper and draw round the outline with a thick gold pen (any colour left on the cutters can be removed with a wire scouring pad). Instead of using a gift tag, the name and Christmas message can be written directly on the paper, inside one of the trees.
Festive star wrapping paper
To make the stamp, cut a potato in half, use a knife to draw a star shape and cut around it, leaving a star shape on the potato. Use a brush to apply red paint to the star and press the potato stamp onto the sheet of paper. One layer of colour is enough to stamp about six stars, and this is a great activity for kids too. Leave the paper to dry, wrap up your gift and decorate with red and white cord. Small pieces of card cut out with pinking scissors and with a small piece of wrapping paper in the middle make a pretty gift tag.
A nostalgic note can be added to gifts using old drawings or pages from a book. The present on the left has been wrapped using brown paper and a piece string which has three decorative buttons threaded onto it. A vintage drawing of a bird has been used as a gift tag - a message can be written on the back and then tucked under the string, together with a feather picked up on a forest walk.
Smaller presents or gift vouchers can be wrapped in pages from old books and finished off with velvet or linen ribbons.
To make the round medallion-style tags, simply cut circles out of gold card using normal or pinking scissors and then add your message
Start by folding brown paper around two sides of the present. Outline the desired motif on the paper to the side of the present so that when this paper is folded over later it lies at the top and as centrally as possible. Cut along the outline of the motif with a craft knife, leaving small parts attached to keep the motif secured (e.g. at the top and in the middle of the trunk of the Christmas tree and between the points of the star). Finally fold the paper with the motif on it over, finish wrapping the present with Sellotape and carefully fold both sides of the motif upwards so that they stick up slightly. The bottom layer of the brown paper is revealed. Outline the edge of the motif with gold pen to make it stand out.
Beautiful gift boxes
Cardboard boxes from craft shops can be decorated with patterns on the sides. Lay a soft stencil in position and paint between the gaps in the desired colour using acrylic paint and a paintbrush. Leave to dry thoroughly, fill the box with gifts (it's a good idea to add a good layer of tissue paper at the bottom) and close with ribbons. Weave pine or holly twigs between the ribbons as desired. These boxes are great for wrapping up home-made biscuits or fragile gifts securely.
Using pre-cut stencils from craft shops is much easier than drawing free-hand. Special soft stencils are flexible and stick to the sheet below so that they don't move during use. It's a good idea to use acrylic paints when working with very delicate patterns and motifs, as they don't dissolve into the card as much as other water-based products.