18 DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas That Are Easy, Budget-Friendly, And Way Cooler Than Store-Bought Holiday Gift Wrap

You know that thing where you feel like you've discovered something, only to realize everyone else already knows about it? Well that happened to me when I set out to find creative DIY holiday gift wrap. I love kraft paper, aka butcher paper. It's my thing. Apparently it's pretty much everyone else's thing too, because kraft paper is everywhere. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take plain ol’ paper and embellish on it. In fact, it’s just the right blank slate on which to impose all sorts of crafty creativity.

A few easy tips:

Remember that you can print on, well, any paper that will go through a printer. No need to limit yourself to white printer paper or even brown kraft. Visit a good paper store and see what colors, and patterns, speak to you.

You can also copy something personal to you or your recipient onto your own paper — think sheet music, pages from a favorite book, a page from the dictionary, a collage of recipe cards. Let your imagination run.

Finally, if you’re not quite up for a full-on DIY project, do an online search for (free) printable wrapping and gift tags. There are a lot of talented and generous designers out there sharing their stuff with you and me.

Now, please indulge me as we look at these 18 holiday gift wrap DIYs that include, yes, a lot of brown paper. They're all doable by pretty much anyone, and they involve at least some stuff you already have around at home. And of course these ideas can be used as starting points and adapted to your own personal style, using whatever materials are your thing.

Stamping

Use a ready-made stamp, or make your own with something you have at home — a wine cork, a pencil eraser, a leaf, half a Brussels sprout (really). Bonus: a DIY Instagram gift tag.

Image: A Beautiful Mess

Embellishments

Cut out the embellishment of your choice and string it with ribbon or twine. This line of mittens creates a sweet clothesline effect.

Image: Stephmodo

Candy Cane Stripes

Wrapping something tubed shaped? Crafting queen Brittany Watson Jepsen created this candy cane wrap with simple paint stripes on white paper.

Image: The House That Lars Built

Brown Bags

Pick up a package of old-school lunch bags at the grocery store, then punch a couple of holes along the top and string through them with anything from ribbon to a fabric strip to a twig. Bonus: this makes wrapping that odd-shaped gift a little easier.

Image: Chiot’s Run/Flickr

Monograms

Felt is the best for cutting out clean shapes. Try cozy felt monograms in place of gift tags.

Image: LornaWatt/Flickr

Stitching

If you’re feeling ambitious, stitch a greeting right on to your paper.

Image: Lines Across

Hand Drawing

Enhance a rustic, homemade look with a simple inked-on gift tag.

Image: Our Humble Abode

Greenery

What says festive like a sprig of evergreenery?

Image: Karen Mordechai/Sunday Suppers

Printable Envelopes

Make your own envelopes — perfect for giving gift cards — with this printable template and the colored card stock of your choice.

Image: Delia Creates

Chalkboard Paint

Chalkboard paint is all in right now, and darned if it isn’t perfect with kraft paper. You can use a stencil to make clean lines, or just do a swoosh. Then write your message in white.

Image: The Winthrop Chronicles

Washi Tape

Washi tape is a magic crafting material — so easy to handle, and it comes in seemingly unlimited colors and patterns. These little Christmas trees out of washi and balsa wood strips are very cute.

Image: Make and Tell

Doodles

Love this doodle design. It’s so obvious, you wouldn’t even think of it.

Image: Fair Ivy

Newspaper

It’s a classic, wrapping gifts in newspaper. Step it up with a colorful page of comics and a matching handmade bow.

Image: Who Arted?

Paint Chips

A clever use for those color swatch strips you can pick up at any paint store.

Image: Create. Craft. Love.

Waxed Paper

Embellishments pressed between two sheets of waxed paper makes for downright adorable wrapping, even if your gifts aren’t edible.

Image: A Pretty Life

Grocery Bags

Lucky for upcyclers, some grocery stores go all out with their holiday-season shopping bags, and they’re just begging to be turned into gift wrap.

Image: Mer Mag

Grocery Bag Tags

Then mix-and-match gift tags can be cut from the same bags.

Image: Lovely Indeed

Fabric

Anyone who sews has a box of leftover fabric. Pick a festive print and just sort of swoop everything together with ribbon or string.

Image: Hello Natural