diy project: handmade gift wrap

I have always loved family traditions during the holidays and when a family friend shared this Thanksgiving tradition with me, I couldn’t wait to share it with others. It is fun and sensible and something that gets everyone looking forward to the coming month of festivities while spending quality creative time together on Thanksgiving Day!

To do this family activity on Thanksgiving, first ask each household to bring a roll of craft, butcher or banner paper. Then you can provide the paints, brushes and other small supplies including pre-cut stencils. The crafting set-up can be done before your meal, using a long table or even the floor if it’s comfortable for all of your guests and if you have the space. Or after dinner, you can convert your dining table into a “craft space” and your guests can enjoy the company while making gift wrap for each other and eating dessert, too!

This family-made gift wrap is great for all ages and the techniques you can use are endless. Children can have their own set-up with stickers, crayons and cut-paper with glue. I have provided you with the stencil template that I used. It is a medley of good-luck symbols; some are commonly used on Christmas trees and throughout the holidays in Germany! — Haylie

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • craft paper, butcher paper or banner paper
  • acrylic craft paints
  • glitter
  • paintbrushes
  • plastic stencil sheets
  • x-acto knife
  • permanent marker
  • pencil with eraser
  • plastic cups for mixing paints
  • extra “drop-cloth” paper
  • scissors
  • template for patterns


1. Print stencil motifs.

2. Lay stencil sheet over printout and trace each motif individually with a marker. Be sure to separate and arrange motifs so that there is at least a 1/2″ border around each one.

3. Using the x-acto knife, cut each motif away from sheet. Be sure to cut on the outer edge of the tracing. Once they are all cut out, then cut apart using scissors.

4. Roll out the paper to fit your table’s length. If your roll wants to roll-up, slip a long ribbon or string through the center and then tie it into a bow and slip over the back of a dining chair. Weigh down the cut end of the paper to keep it from shifting or rolling.

5. Starting with your smallest motif (for example, the pencil eraser), make a scattered repeat pattern, placing them further apart at first. Simply dip the eraser into the paint and then stamp it onto the gift wrap.

6. Using medium to large motifs, begin to fill in “holes” or bare spaces. When using a stencil, be sure to use a stiff-bristled brush and to stipple the paint using fast up-and-down movements, while firmly holding the stencil in place.

7. After filling in the bare spaces with larger motifs, revisit with smaller motifs to fill more holes.

8. Glitter your paper! Using the acrylic paint as an adhesive, stencil the paint on and cover with glitter. Allow to sit and dry for at least five minutes before disturbing the excess glitter. To clean, use a softer brush like a broom to sweep excess glitter off of the paper.

9. Using a smaller brush, finish with small details or corrections! (For the mushroom details, the end of a smaller paintbrush works best.)

10. Allow the paper to dry for approximately 30 minutes to an hour before rolling it up carefully and securely. Then tie it with a ribbon to keep it from unraveling so that when gift giving comes around a few weeks later, you are ready to wrap!

Tips: A great idea for small children is to incorporate their handwriting or handprints and the date. Then a small piece of the paper can be cut and saved or framed as a keepsake.


haylie, i love this. i want to do this with laraine and nikki this thanksgiving.


I’ve been making my own gift wrap for years, partly because buying it is expensive and wasteful and partly because it’s fun. I never buy the paper, either. There’s newspaper, paper grocery bags, and roll ends of white plotter paper that my husband brings home from work.


what a great idea! I was trying to think of a fun activity for a small holiday party….I’m so tired of cookie swaps and ornament exchanges –this is going to be so much fun!


Great idea! Another good and simple way is to carve potato stamps!


Cute! Although I really dont understand how poison mushrooms, lucky horse shoes, and shamrocks have anything to do with the holidays….


Great idea. I often will turn the endless amounts of adorable artwork that comes home from preschool into wrapping paper or notecards because I think it’s a unique way to share my children’s art with family and friends, and it’s “green” too! I have not purchased a roll of wrapping paper in years because I nearly lose sleep over the idea of so much paper going to waste just so a package can look pretty. I remember my mom sitting us all down as kids, and we tie-dyed tissue paper to use as wrapping paper for the holidays…

Emily Rae

My mother used to wrap all the gifts for our extended family like this, and then we had the honor of painting them. And when I worked in a children’s art studio, I brought the discarded artwork home and wrapped my gifts in them.

Lori at RedoDesign

When my kids were smaller, I used a roll of craft paper and unrolled it down our long hallway on the floor (like a carpet runner).

Then I filled two paper plates; one with green paint, one with red paint. I had my barefoot kids step into paint then run all over the paper.

Grammy & Grampy loved their gifts wrapped up in grandbaby footprints!


too cute! and to respond to Leah, these are all very traditional European luck symbols, used a lot in Germany to decorate trees, wreaths, and greeting cards during the holidays. I cannot wait to get started on mine!