A gift-giver's thoughtfulness is as apparent in how a gift is wrapped as in what's inside. "In our world of ubiquitous merchandise, wrapping can make a gift distinctive," says Wanda Wen, author of The Art of Gift Wrapping (Potter Craft, 2010) and owner of Soolip, a gift-wrap shop in West Hollywood, Calif. "When you wrap a gift, do it with grace and consciousness." Susan Zevon, for the Associated Press
Make it personal
Wen approaches every gift she wraps with two things in mind: She is honoring the recipient, and giving a little piece of herself. Select things that speak to you, she says, and consider the person receiving the gift.
For a nature lover, for instance, wrap a gift in a big, beautiful leaf, or use a bundle of twigs for the topper instead of a ribbon.
"Be resourceful," Wen says. "Create your own wrapping paper by stitching or taping photos on craft paper, or even on a brown grocery bag."
Reuse and recycle
Being mindful of the earth's resources, as well as your own, can lead to inspired gift wrapping.
"Think green — reuse and recycle," advises Leslie Carola, author of Wrapped With Style (Universe Publishing, 2009). "Keep your gift wraps out of the trash. Use the tissue paper from the dry cleaners, pretty tea containers, recycle a beautiful ribbon presented to you."
Go outside and look for pinecones, pebbles, stalks and twigs. Wen says you can "turn any object into a gift topper using thin wire and a little ingenuity."
Celebrate the season
"Red berries make a perfect holiday gift topper," Wen says. Or create seasonal ribbons using plastic wrap filled with rows of red-and-white peppermint candies.
Former magazine editor Kaaren Gray of New York likes to use knotted, clear cellophane bows instead of ribbon for Christmas presents.
For gift cards or cash, illustrator and paper crafter Susan Swan suggests a handmade envelope. You can download a template from the Internet (thepapermillstore.com has some), cut or tear the shape out of festive paper, insert a card coordinated with the envelope and seal it with a holiday sticker.
"Keep a stash of things you love to use for your gift wraps," Wen says. "If you are short on space, keep your gift-wrapping supplies in an underbed storage box with wheels, which you can find at Target or the Container Store. When you use things you love, it becomes a joy rather than a chore."