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Every year for as long as I can remember, I have decorated my gifts for the holidays. In the past, I have used special papers and ribbons, handlettered names, made illustrated tags with hints of what may be inside the package, and even sewed some reusable bags with seasonal fabrics and sparkly ribbons. This year, I wanted to design the whole wrapping paper. This is something that is cost-effective, easy to DIY, and creates a wow-factor. (The downside is it takes a lot of time!) Here is how I did it:

To start I brainstormed the possible icons I wanted to use to symbolize the holidays. I played around with different versions of each symbol and how I could easily draw them and color them in. I chose to use a black Micron marker (8pt) and three colors of colored pencils: red, yellow, and gold. Additionally, I chose to recycle the brown paper bags from the grocery stores to use as my canvas. This kept my art supply arsenal simple and used stuff I already owned. Total Cost: $0

The first thing when making was to determine the direct center of the package since I wanted to hand letter the names of each recipient onto the paper. I loosely wrapped each present and lightly marked the corners with a dot. When I unfolded the paper, I knew to center the name within the rectangle created from the four dots. I practiced each name in my sketchbook before committing to it on the final product. If you are unskilled in handlettering, I would recommend using a light layer of pencil on the final copy before going over it in marker.

The next step involved a lot of drawing. I would slowly draw one icon at a time, trying to leave enough space between them and also considering the color composition. For example, I wouldn’t want to put three things that had to be yellow next to each other (like the bell, star, and gingerbread man.) I would spread those out so that yellow could be seen all over the package instead of in one congested area. In order to ensure a good color composition, when drawing your icons, do it in colors. First draw the items that have to be yellow and spread them out. Second, draw the items that have to be green. Third, draw the items that have to be red. Last, fill in with items that have no specific color (like the mittens!)

After the icons are spaced out and fill in the whole canvas, I added in tiny general elements to help the pattern not look bare. In areas that looked empty, I added small berries, twigs, and snowflakes.


Last, I colored it all in. I utilized the same method I used when drawing the icons. Going one color at a time. I chose not to color every piece of the icons in to give it a specific style. Instead, I only used one color per icon and the parts that did not get that color blank.

I was very happy with how the wrapping paper turned out. It also got a lot of gushing from the recipients! I will probably not do this again, because of the amount of time it took. Yet, I am grateful I have at least tried it once.



Cut out square of brown paper bag with name 'Stella' hand lettered in a script on it with a Micron marker sitting next to the paper
Close Up image of Brown kraft paper with name 'Stella' handlettered in a script typeface with with small christmas themed icons line drawn with a black marker in a pattern like structure
Image of brown kraft paper with name 'Stella' handlettered in a script typeface with a black marker and line drawn christmas themed icons surrounding the name in a pattern like structure
Image of brown kraft paper with name 'Stella' handlettered in script in the middle with line drawn, christmas themed icons surrounding it in a pattern like structure. The icons are randomly colored in with red, green, and yellow colored pencil.
Small rectangular gift wrapped in brown kraft paper with name 'stella' handlettered in a script typeface in the middle of the package with line drawn icons surrounding the name in a pattern like structure. the icons consist of black outlines and red, green, and yellow colored pencil filling.

Check out the finished products!