diy wednesdays: 3 easy gift tag ideas

we’ve been in love with the work of artist/illustrator/educator ed emberley for as long as we can remember. as kids we spent hours bent over his “how-to” books learning to draw all sorts of adorable little creatures. so this year we looked to ed for inspiration in crafting our holiday gift tags, like the thumbprint owl seen above. and since we had our stamp pad out we decided to whip up a couple more delightfully simple ideas. just click here for the full post, more photos (mushroom and tree tags!) and instructions.

happy holiday crafting!
derek & lauren

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Cardstock or hang tags from the office supply store
-A thumb
-A pen
-A stamp pad
-A pencil with an eraser
-An X-acto blade

Thumbprint Owl:
1. Even though he describes himself as an “old grandpa kind of a guy”, Ed has a pretty awesome website where you can download lots of fun stuff. Head over to for instructions on how to draw your very own thumbprint owl.

Graphic Tree:
1. Draw your bare tree branch either freehand or with a ruler. Ink your pencil eraser on the stamp pad and add as many ornaments in as many colors as you like.

Mushroom Patch:
1. Use an X-acto blade to carefully cut your pencil eraser into a semicircle. Ink the eraser on the stamp pad and dot your gift tag with darling little mushroom tops. Draw in the stems with a pen.

  1. Brittany says:

    Thats awesome! I remember doing those in grade school! What an fantastic idea for gift tags.

  2. Ez says:

    Oh…. what delightful packaging!!!
    I remember making thumb print art as a kid, but I’d all but forgotten until now. I will certainly be doing this fabulous project with my daughter… a n activity we can both really get into!

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Jennifer says:

    This will definitely bring a bit more flair to my wrapping this season! Where did you get that great faux bois wrapping paper?

  4. grace says:


    i’m sure lauren and derek can comment but i figured i’d take a shot at it. might be this?


  5. Jules says:

    OMG…I still have my Ed Emberley books from my childhood…what a fantastic idea….That for bringing back GREAT memories!

  6. anne says:

    i was just at the fancy stationary store and i was disatisfied with the gift tag selection and had already resolved to make my own when i saw this. so utterly perfect!

  7. alex says:

    These are fantastic! Thanks so much for posting this. Seriously, too cute. (and easy!)

  8. Anna says:

    I love the red and white twine used on the first gift… can anyone suggest some places to get simple ribbon/twine like this?

  9. Katy says:

    I remember Ed coming to my elementary school in Amherst, NH. He was my hero! I still have a book he signed for me in the 4th grade.

  10. ooo Ed emberly he was and still is my fave inspiration!! I totally forgot about his fingerprints! How cute!

  11. Thanks for the wonderful flashback Lauren and Derek! Every year at my mom would take us to the Home & Garden show in Kansas City and I’d always look forward to the booth where you’d make thumbprint animal buttons. Cute idea!


  12. Tina says:

    I love the owl gift tag. I can’t wait to make some with my boys.

  13. ellen says:

    That red and white twine (baker’s twine) can also be found at Michael’s, as part of the MS craft line (

  14. cindy k says:

    i love the mushrooms! why can’t i think of these things – ugh, but glad you did.

  15. joy says:

    love these! and i like how you guys listed “a thumb” as part of the things you’ll need for the first one! ;) -joy

  16. Raven says:

    Completely adorable!

  17. Becs says:

    I am sooooo doing this when I get home! So much fun!

  18. Pina says:

    I had written an article about how to draw birds using fingerprints for one of the issues of a magazine we publish at work. We received really many positive responses from parents and teachers. It is an excellent idea for a gift tag, I have never thought of that. Thanks.

  19. Valentina says:

    love this semplicity. i’ll do it too!

  20. Wendi Gratz says:

    I’m a HUGE Ed Emberley fan! The thumbprint books are great, but my favorites are the Picture Pie books. I use them as inspiration for a lot of applique projects (like this purse but I had never thought of the gift tags. Hmmm. . .maybe I’ll make some circle, half-circle and wedge rubber stamps and go to town making my own holiday wrap. Picture Pie wrap with thumprint tags – a real Ed Emberley collection!

  21. christie says:

    Love the tags, love derek & lauren.

    thanks again for a great post!

  22. Bethany says:

    Super fun! thanks!

  23. cris says:

    twine in multiple colors can also be found at this ebay store:
    it’s so much cheaper than i’ve found other places; i bought the red and white variety and i love it!

  24. Lori says:

    those who like these might also appreciate geninne’s work :^)

  25. Joelle says:

    Wow, Derek and Lauren, every week something I actually want to make. These are so sweet!

    Blogged here: Four Good Corners

  26. Wendy says:

    Wow, I can’t get over how simple but ADORABLE these are!

  27. Annalea says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting Ed Emberly’s link. I had some of his books as a child, but had forgotten all about them. This is going to be perfect for Christmas! Thank you thank you thank you! :o)


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