How to Wrap the Tidiest Present of All Time

Lid? No problem. Ribbon? You've got this.

November  5, 2021

We’re officially past Halloween (goodbye, spooky season, we love you!), which means it’s peak prepping-for-the-holidays time. And if you’re someone who waits until after Thanksgiving to even think about the holidays, we totally understand, but when it comes to winter temps, we all need something to look forward to.

If you’ve already plotted out a spreadsheet with what gifts to get who and when, it's likely you’re also already thinking about how to wrap said gifts. Right about now is when all the stores start stocking all the irresistible little gift bags with tiny prints and loading up on adorably-patterned wrapping paper. Then comes the actual act of wrapping…

Lots of us take the easy way out and toss everything in a gift bag; some of us go the extra mile and employ a reusable wrapping; and some of us still are struggling with remembering how exactly our moms perfectly packaged gifts with no seams. Good news: we’ve got the full scoop on how to perfectly wrap a present, making it look like you literally do this for a living. It's all about creasing the paper over the edge then flipping it under to create an invisible seam. True, it doesn't make for a completely seamless present, but there are barely any to speak of and it's a reliable way to make a tidy package.

Follow along on this tutorial as we go, (and maybe get a couple practice rounds in), and you’ll be a professional in no time at all.

Packing your box, and a word about tissue paper:

Unless you're packing up a fragile item and need lots of packing fluff (in which case it's prettier and safer to grab a dozen pieces of tissue rather than one or two scraggly ones, then crunch them up), it's nice to lay down a clean layer of tissue paper inside the box for wrapping your gift before boxing.

To make it fit without too much crunching, just take a few pieces of tissue, double them over at their middle until the height of the papers matches that of your box, then press them down into the base of the bottom half of the box. Insert gift, then fold the two ends over top before boxing.

How to wrap a box with paper:

Make the first seam on a long side of the box.

Unfurl some paper from the roll, set your box near the roll itself, then flop the loose end of the paper back over the box. Keep unrolling paper and scooching the box near to the roll until there's enough paper to cover the package. Cut the paper off by the roll once you have enough (as shown below), then simply grab the end you just cut and swivel it (and the box atop it) so its in front of you.

Ready to wrap?

Wrap the paper around the box, allowing extra just in case, then cut it off the roll.

To make the first seamless edge, follow the 4 steps below. Instead of simply taping down one end of the paper then taping down the other on top of it, you'll crease and then fold the top piece, creating a neat edge of paper that lines up with the edge of the box so you can barely see it at all.

Photo by Linda Xiao

1. Pull the end of the paper that's jutting out from under the box so there's enough of it to cover that whole vertical side. Tape it to the top of the box to cover with a single piece of tape (above, left).

2. Pull the other end of the paper towards you and over that same edge you just covered, tautly (above, right).

Photo by Linda Xiao

3. When you've pulled that end taut, crease it along the edge you covered with the other paper (above, left).

4. Now, pick it back up, fold it along that crease you created, then lay it down again so the neat, folded edge of the paper lines up with the edge of the box (above, right). Voilà, seamless!

Here it is in motion:

Photo by Linda Xiao

Tape to secure—either by adding double sided tape underneath the edge or by simply taping over the edge the way you always have.

Photo by Linda Xiao

Go have a sip of water. Your box will be there when you get back.

Fold up an end.

Swivel the box so one of its ends with the paper overhang is facing you. Is the paper that's jutting out longer than the width of the end you're covering? If yes, trim it down a bit. If it's shorter, don't bother trimming it at all; just proceed.

Rather than crushing this tube of paper down from the top like you are feeling inclined to, press in the tube at its sides, creasing it along the vertical edges of the box (below, left). Moving out from that crease, press the two resulting folds into triangles—one against your work surface and one in the air (below, right).

Photo by Linda Xiao

All together now:

Photo by Linda Xiao

Repeat with the other vertical edge on this side of the box, pressing the paper in along it, creasing a triangle of paper against your surface and another in the air. You'll end up with a top and a bottom flap that are both shaped like triangles.

Fold the top triangle down first, crease it along the top edge of the box, then trim any excess from the point of the triangle if it hangs past the bottom edge of the box. Don't bother securing this part with tape.

Now, create a seamless edge just as before, using the bottom triangle flap: Fold it up and over the edge, crease it along that edge, lift it up and fold along that crease you just made (and cutting away any excess), then tape the newly clean edge along the edge of the box. Tape to secure.

Like this:

Photo by Linda Xiao

Repeat on the other end of the box.

All in all, you should have only used 4 pieces of tape, and the only visible seams will be neat little triangles at each corner. Crease any edges that didn't get creased before for an extra-crisp gift, do a little bit of ribbon magic, then gift it to someone who appreciates how hard you worked on the wrap.

Photo by Linda Xiao

I know this feels tedious, but the best way to get good at it is to do it over and over. Eventually, your hands will remember the motions and you'll be wrapping faster than you ever did before—which is the goal, after all: to get part out of the way so you can rip them open sooner.

Final step? Add a ribbon!

What's your go-to gift-wrapping method? Tell us in the comments!

This article was updated in November 2021 to add even better tips for gift wrapping.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

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Erica V. August 5, 2019
I used to work the gift wrap counter at I Magnin (anyone remember them?) in Palo Alto CA when I was in my very early 20's. I learned some great tips- especially how to tie a ribbon around a box in about 15 seconds. I love this nearly seamless look!
Amanda H. December 20, 2015
So inspiring, Amanda!
Kat December 15, 2015
This is how my grandmother taught me how to wrap gifts. :) I repurpose old brown paper bags as wrapping paper and then my son and I decorate the paper to match the occasion. A fun thing to do for any parent or crafty person who loves to recycle.
702551 December 15, 2015
The Japanese know how to wrap presents. Like this:

Simpler: no seams, only one triangle on the bottom. He does not cut the paper after he starts wrapping. There is only one piece of exposed tape.
702551 December 15, 2015
Oh, it takes him about 58 seconds to wrap this package (not including finding a stick-on bow), less time than it takes to read this article.

This is also a good example of a lesson that is more efficiently taught by video demonstration than a bunch of words and photographs. You definitely do not need to speak/read Japanese to understand what is happening.
Olivia B. December 15, 2015
ARE YOU DOING THIS AT THE POP UP?! I feel like a slacker.
Amanda S. December 15, 2015
I have done this so much I can basically do it in my sleep! You are the opposite of a slacker—do you approve?