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How to Wrap Presents for Cheap

Created October 16, 2017
Wrapped boxes
Real talk: wrapping a gift is expensive, and around the holidays, that can really get you where it hurts. After all, you’re spending money on something that literally gets thrown away. These cheap present-wrapping ideas will help us all make peace with the final step in the gift-giving process. And with all the money you save, you could buy another gift! (For yourself, maybe? We think you deserve it.)

Cheap Ways to Wrap Food for Gifts

Wrapped jars

Don’t shell out for special treat boxes and bags. If you know you’ll be giving the gift of snacks this year, start holding on to empty jars and cans now. We particularly love these ideas because there’s little or no cost involved. After all, you’re reusing the packaging from groceries you already paid for, and that was headed for the recycling bin anyway.

What you need:

  • Empty cans and glass jars (we used these
  • Plastic cling wrap, parchment and/or tissue paper 
  • Twine, ribbon or washi tape, for decorating

Idea #1: Treat Jars

Fill empty glass jars from your kitchen with homemade candy, snack mix, nuts—you name it. And they fit a stack of mini cookies so perfectly, you’ll think they were made just to do it.

To make: Carefully peel off the label and thoroughly wash and dry the jar. Cover with plastic wrap or tissue paper, and seal with twine or rubber bands.

Idea #2: Cookie Canisters

Empty cans are surprisingly great for giving cookies. Especially with some tissue paper or washi tape, they’re festive (not to mention extremely durable).

To make: Remove the label and wash and dry the can inside and out. Carefully cover the inside metal edgeof the can with heavy duty tape to prevent cuts. Wrap a stack of cookies in parchment or tissue paper, tie at the top, and nestle inside the can.

Final cost: $0.99/roll for washi tape (on sale at Joann, not available online)

Cheap Ways to Gift Wrap a Bottle of Wine

Wrapped wine bottles

Everyone loves getting wine for a gift, and at $3 per bottle for the house brand at Trader Joe’s, you can get one for everyone on your list (plus one for yourself). The only downsides: bottles are awkward as heck to wrap, and if you’re a fan of the Two- or Three-Buck Chuck like we are, a gift bag for that bottle could cost almost as much as the wine itself. So save those precious wine dollars: we’ve got two original, adorable, useful and—best of all—cheap ways to wrap wine this year.

What you need:

To Wrap ONE Bottle of Wine

Wine bottles and socks

The are some universal holiday gifts everyone loves to get. Two of those are wine and socks. You can never have too many cozy pairs of socks in the winter, and they’re perfect to wear while you enjoy that bottle of wine someone gave you. Best of all, when you buy a multi-pack of socks, the price per pair is basically the same as one of those wine bottle gift bags, anyway.

This one was easy—use one sock to cover the bottle, and roll up the other sock and tie it at the middle to form a “bow” (see photo above). Fasten it around the neck of a wine bottle, and just like that you have a cute, actually practical way to wrap a bottle of wine.

Final cost: $2.40 per pair

To Wrap TWO Bottles of Wine

Wine bottles wrapped in a dish towel

Like socks, a kitchen towel becomes functional gift wrap someone could actually use. This no-sew wine caddy makes it easy to transport two bottles of wine at once, and the fabric also keeps the bottles from knocking against each other.

Start by laying out one towel, printed-side down, with one of the corners pointing toward you. Fold up the first few inches of fabric, and position wine bottles about two inches apart near the edge of the towel.

Dish towel and wine bottles

Next, carefully roll the bottles away from you to wrap them inside the towel.

Wine bottles wrapped in a dish towel

When all of the fabric is rolled around the bottles, bring the two corners of the towel together and knot securely. This becomes the caddy handle.

Wine bottles wrapped in a dish towel

Final cost: $1 per towel

Cheap Wrapping Paper Ideas

Stamped wrapping paper

Here’s our #1 tip for expensive-looking wrapping paper: it doesn’t matter what kind you use as long as you use the same kind every time. That makes your gifts look coordinated, which automatically translates to put-together and designer.

Idea #1: DIY Stamped Wrapping Paper

Instead of spending $10 per roll on fancy wrapping paper, DIY your own stamped design for pennies per foot. We decorated a roll of plain brown wrapping paper, because after all, what’s more delightful at the holidays than “brown paper packages tied up with string”? And if you’re feeling extra thrifty, you could even take apart paper grocery bags and decorate on the reverse side.

What you need:

Just cut a piece of paper from your roll and tape to the top of your counter or table. Then, use your jars to stamp a freehand circle pattern over the surface. Allow to dry completely before wrapping gifts.

Stamping a freehand circle pattern

Tip for getting the cleanest circle designs: after dipping the opening of your jars in paint, quickly blot off the excess on a paper towel.

Final cost: $0.35 per foot

Idea #2: Ditch the Paper for Fabric

Wrapped presents

Remember the DIY wine caddy from earlier? Well, kitchen towels are more than just one-trick ponies. Instead of buying gift bags for smaller presents, wrap them in decorative towels instead. Not only does this cost less than a gift bag, it’ll come in handy when it’s time to make the cookies, too. Here, we wrapped up pouches of Betty Crocker cookie mix inside cute flour sack towels.

What you need:

Final cost: $1.04 per gift (1 towel + 2 ft twine)

Cheap DIY Gift Boxes

Wrapped presents

This might be our most genius money-saving trick yet. Just like our ideas for wrapping up holiday treats, this hack upcycles food packaging you’d usually toss. Cereal boxes are the perfect size for sweaters, and boxes for brownie mix or granola bars are great for smaller gifts like socks or jewelry. There’s just no reason to spend more of your hard-earned budget on gift boxes when so many are hiding in plain sight in your kitchen.

What you need:

  • Masking tape ($1.66) 
  • Washi tape ($0.99/roll on sale at Joann, not available online) 
  • Decorative ribbon from wrapping paper stash ($0)

Cardboard food boxes

You can wrap your DIY gift boxes—like we did with the Cheerio’s box above—or you can turn the boxes inside out and skip the wrapping all together. Start by carefully taking apart the seams of your box until it’s completely deconstructed.

Cheerios box, granola bars box

Decorate the edges of the box with washi tape, if desired.

Decorate the edges of the box with washi tape

Then, use tape to put the box back together with the printed side facing in.

Use tape to put the box back together with the printed side facing in

Tie ribbon around your brown paper packages, and enjoy the feeling of creating a free gift box basically out of thin air, as if by magic. Because you’re a money-saving wizard.

Box with a red bow

Final cost: $2.65 (for masking and washi tapes)

Bonus: Cheap Gift Ideas

Cheap DIY Christmas Presents That Cost $5 or Less

Now you know how to wrap a present for cheap, but before you can do that, you need gifts. Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered with 4 Cheap DIY Christmas Presents That Cost $5 or Less.

For more hassle-free holiday ideas, check out our series: 24 Holiday Hacks to Keep You Sane.