DIY Holiday Gifting

  • Photo by Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist

    Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist

  • Photo by Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist

    Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist

The holidays are right around the corner and—gasp—you have a stack of boxes to wrap. Sure, you could fall back on the snowflake gift wrap you’ve been using the past three years. But why do that when you can fashion together something personal and thoughtful in a snap? Here, we give you six solutions to last-minute gift wrapping, easy enough even for the DIY-challenged.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
Upgraded Envelope
Money is undoubtedly the most practical gift and it’s definitely not an uncommon practice in Korea (especially among family and close friends). Stuffing some bills in a plain envelope can seem a bit careless, so we decided to give it a facelift.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What to do: First of all, ditch the run-of-the-mill white envelope and opt for these crisp manila-hued versions. Take an inexpensive decorative tape, otherwise known washi tape, and run it once along the middle of the envelope. We suggest going for a bright and whimsical pattern since, after all, it is the holidays. Then tie a baker’s twine over the strip a few times, criss-crossing and making sure it peeks out just so. Amp up a plain Jane nametag by layering on pretty tissue paper for a chic design (we used a glue stick to attach it). Then top it off with the recipient’s name and voila, you’ve got yourself a gift that’s just as nice as what’s inside.

What you need: Yellow envelope, available at any office supply store; Decorative tape, 1,000 won for 10 meters, available at Daiso nationwide; Daily Like baker’s twine, 3,000 won, available at 10×10; Natural “mermaid-cut” labels, 3,000 won, available at Daedo (대도지물) in Namdaemun; Christmas-themed tissue paper.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
Dazzling Cellophane
If you’re planning on gifting a show-off piece like this sparkly bangle, cellophane bags are a great alternative to jewelry boxes. The content is the true star here, so provide the right setting to let it shine.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What to do: Take a cellophane bag and line it with decorative tissue paper. Avoid a design that’s heavily adorned—a dainty pattern in a neutral shade or even a solid colored tissue paper works. Choose a decorative tape and cut it in descending length to form a Christmas tree that zig zags. Crown the tree with a colored paper in any shape you desire (we cut ours into a circle with pinking shears). Stuff the bottom with shredded tissue paper then place your gift in the bag. Fold over the top of the bag, punch a hole on each side, thread natural twine through and tie a ribbon in the back to enclose.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What you need: Cellophane bags, 6,600 won, available at Daedo (대도지물) in Namdaemun; Shredded paper for stuffing called “topping” (타핑 in Korean), approximately 1,000 won, available at any craft store; Decorative tape, 1,000 won for 10 meters, available at Daiso nationwide; Colored paper, available at office supply or craft stores; Natural twine (마끈), 2,000 won, available at Alpha.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
Mix & Match Tissue Paper
Tissue paper comes in a huge variety of patterns these days and we personally love the texture of it layered together. Use them for a plain gift box that has a top and bottom.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What to do: Instead of wrapping the box as one, cover the lid and the bottom with separate tissue paper. This is perfect for the mix-and-match aesthetic as long as the patterns are in similar scale. If you’re not sure about mixing and matching, it’s always safe to go with one solid and one pattern. Since tissue paper is naturally delicate, we suggest using glue stick instead of fussing with tape. Then take a nametag and paint the front and back with Gesso primer. Don’t stress over the perfect paint job—it’s actually more charming to see the brush stroke and it exudes a handmade touch. We stamped ours with “Open on December 25,” but you can use any decorative stamp that suits the recipient. Tie a thin ribbon on the corners and attach an ornamental piece to give a focal point, like this paper snowflake.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What you need: Pack of Christmas tissue paper, available at Costco; Barunson snowflake card, 2,500 won, available at E-Mart; Natural “mermaid-cut” labels, 3,000 won, available at Daedo (대도지물) in Namdaemun; Gesso paint and shipping stamps available at Hottracks (Kyobo Books) and other craft/art supply stores.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
Eye-popping Hanji
Hanji comes in a beautiful rainbow of colors, both bright and muted. Framed with decorative tape and a flower centerpiece, you don’t need any special skills to give the impression that you spent a little extra time.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What to do: Wrap the box as you would normally. Run two diagonal corners of the box in decorative tape to “frame” the box. Then grab two sheets of complementary colored paper and cut each in a circle of two different sizes (we used a masking tape and traced one with the outer circumference and the other with the inner). Then fold each one accordion style. *Easy tip: Fold into fours, then continue folding each quarter section in half until you have the pleats you want. Tape or glue one on top of the other so only the center of it sticks, and attach it to the center of the box. You want this to have dimension, so fluff it out if need be and make sure not to put anything heavy on top!

What you need: Basic hanji, available at Alpha; Decorative tape, 1,000 won for 10 meters, available at Daiso nationwide; Colored paper, available at office supply or craft stores.

Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistPressed Leaves Wine Bottle
Not only is hanji offered in solid hues, there are also some really special varieties with press leaves or flowers. It’s perfect as a wrap for a wine bottle, or even a gourmet makgeolli.

What to do: Lay the bottle on its side on top of the hanji and roll it till it covers it entirely. Fasten the ends using a glue gun or double-stick tape. We found that it was better to cleanly cut off the wrapper at the bottom rim of the bottle instead of folding it in. That way, it’s able to stand upright without worry of tipping over. Take a ribbon—we suggest a thick sash in a rich tone like this marigold—and tie it into a faux-hanbok bow so it only has one loop. We used a satin version, but even a stiff organza would work since it would hold its shape well. Mimic the hanbok bow by letting the ends drape to the bottom of the wine bottle. This lends a beautifully dramatic effect.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What you need: Hanji with pressed leaves, 2,000 won per sheet, available at Alpha; 1” satin marigold ribbon, 1,000 won per yard, available at Daedo (대도지물) in Namdaemun.

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
Opulent Pindot
This is classic with just a slight twist. This “fancy hole” paper comes in a ton of shades, so depending on the color combo you choose, it can suit the girly girl and the rugged boys alike (they need pampering, too!).

Photo by Yaeri Song for Seoulist
What to do: Wrap the gift box in the pindot paper, pinching your fingers along the edges of the box to give it a clear crease since the paper is a bit on the thick side. Tie a big bow with a satin ribbon, off-center for a surprise element. We chose a sumptuous wine shade to offset the turquoise wrap, but any number of combos will work: aqua and brown, orange and pink, black and white. Grab a nametag and stick a strip of decorative tape along the middle, giving enough space to write the giftee’s name or a simple note like “Cheers!” Polish it off by affixing the nametag with double-stick tape and faking a hangtag with a thin strip of decorative tape.

What you need: “Fancy Hole” (팬시홀) paper in mint, 1,500 won per sheet, available at Alpha; 1” satin wine-colored ribbon, 1,000 won per yard, available at Daedo in Namdaemun; Natural “mermaid-cut” labels, approximately 3,000 won for a small bag, available at craft stores; Decorative tape, 1,000 won for 10 meters, available at Daiso nationwide.

Jenny Kim

About Jenny Kim

Jenny's worked at various shelter (aka home decor) magazines in NYC, but moved back to her old stomping ground after realizing that unpacking 80 floor lamps wasn't her calling. She loves the smell of books and gets great satisfaction in staring at pretty magazine layouts.

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