What are the Different Types of Gift Wrap?

wiseGEEK Writer

Gift wrap comes in many forms, from simply designed wrapping paper, to bags, tissue, boxes and more. Traditionally, gift wrap refers to wrapping paper only, while wrapping a gift can refer to placing it in a decorative box or bag, or using wrapping paper. Choices of what kind of wrapping materials to use vary in both price and quality. People can also get highly creative with plain colored or brown paper wrapping paper by decorating it with stickers, stamps or illustrations.

A basket can be creatively decorated instead of using gift wrap.
A basket can be creatively decorated instead of using gift wrap.

The simplest gift wrap is often plainly colored wrapping paper. This comes in a variety of colors suited to any occasion. Generally, this type is also among the cheapest available. You can often get deals at dollar stores, where a square or a small roll will cost a dollar or less.

Wrapped Christmas gifts under a tree.
Wrapped Christmas gifts under a tree.

Many people enjoy choosing paper with a bit more design, and numerous designs exist that are themed. For example, you can find birthday themed materials for children and adults, as well as wedding, baby and bridal shower, and holiday gift wrap. Themed papers can also vary in weight, design and quality. If you are wrapping anything with corners, a slightly heavier one is recommended so the corners don’t tear.

Since the 1990s, many people have eschewed traditional gift wrap in favor of gift bags. These are excellent for oddly shaped gifts, and the gift can be covered with a few layers of tissue so that the recipient can’t see the gift. These bags come in numerous shapes and sizes, and some are even made for specific items, like wine bags.

Since wrapping gifts is time consuming, some prefer to purchase a decorative box instead of wrapping paper. Some stores sell decorative boxes, while others like Nordstrom’s will box any items you’d like to give without charge. The boxes at Nordstrom’s have silver and gold stripes and they usually come with a bow. Other department stores may want to feature the name of their store on complimentary gift wrapping. Alternately, if an item you purchase comes from a store that doesn’t offer boxes, you can usually purchase decorative boxes at stationary and crafts stores. Plain boxes can be decorated to your own taste if you prefer.

People who love to decorate may also enjoy decorating plain brown wrapping paper, or plain colored wrapping paper. You can often get simple brown wrapping paper from packing supply and mailing companies, and it’s usually an inexpensive way to go. Then with rubber stamps, stickers or your own deft pen, add designs as needed.

Other gift wrap ideas may make use of fabric as opposed to paper. Some companies like Sephora now offer the choice of mailing gifts in satin bags, which are pretty and may be useful to the recipient. Around the winter holidays, you may find fleece wine bags too.

Gift wrap experts suggest shopping ahead for winter holiday paper. A day or two after Christmas, stores are motivated to sell themed wrapping paper at very low prices, often about a quarter of the price prior to Christmas or Hanukkah. If you have extra storage space, consider stocking up for next year’s holiday. You can even buy plastic gift wrap canisters to store paper and bows so it remains in perfect shape until next year’s wrapping season begins.

Wrapping paper is available in various colors, lengths, themes and styles.
Wrapping paper is available in various colors, lengths, themes and styles.

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Discussion Comments


I really love when people use recycled gift wrap. Even when I was a child, I always saved as much as I could when opening presents, so I could use it later; I also appreciate when people wrap gifts in things like grocery bag paper or newspaper. While it might not be as fancy, it's an incredibly easy form of creative gift wrap that is cheap and uses resources over again.


There is also personalized gift wrap.

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