Whether you want to save money or a last-minute trip to the Christmas aisle, making your own gift wrap can save money and add a personal touch to your gifts this year.

Nearly every family has a story about a frugal relative or tough times in the past when gifts were wrapped in newspaper comics or another handy item lying around the house. Sometimes, it’s the personal touch on a holiday package that matters and makes the long-told story. Try these ideas to make your package special, or at least a little bit easier:

Start with a clean slate

Stock up on plenty of brown paper. Plain butcher or parcel paper works for nearly anything you have to wrap, including packages to mail. And it’s a perfect blank canvas for nearly every sort of DIY decoration. For example, have the kids dip their hands in tempura paint and make prints on the top of for grandma’s gift each year. It’s a gift around the gift! She can keep a record of their growth. Kids also will love using stencils or stickers to add holiday cheer to plain brown packages, and everybody loves to see their creativity shine through.

For a little more sophistication, use your own touch, painting on a favorite design or a theme for each year or recipient. For example, add stencils of gingerbread men rolled on white ink, or a Christmas tree stamp on a roller in green ink. Tie a small bow of natural twine and you have a simple, but sophisticated package.

Parcel paper also makes a perfect backdrop for natural adornment. Tie twine or burlap ribbon around your package and tuck in a twig of pine tree, a few berries or glue on a few small pine cones. Or arrange all three as the centerpiece of your plain package, tied up with a piece of thin ribbon or string.

Get crafty with homemade tags

With some Mod Podge and glitter, you can turn plain brown tags into sparkly, personalized ones. Make tags that match your wrapping paper by cutting out a small pattern from the paper (such as the old-fashioned Santa), copying it, printing it out and gluing it onto card stock. Then decorate it with outlines of colored pens or glitter. If you have some time, drag out the old family photos and the scanner and print gift tags. All of your relatives will recognize themselves from old school or family pictures, and there’s no need to even write on the tag. The photos will make for great conversation during gift opening.

Or make your own bows and ribbons

Plenty of online tutorials show you how to make ribbons and bows. With a little practice, you can get the hang of it. And make the bow out of found or unconventional objects. Maybe your music lover would appreciate a bow made from old music sheets, for example. This tutorial shows you how to make bows and ribbons from old magazines.

Sound like too much this busy time of year? Instead of a bow, add a lollipop, a few candy canes, or gumdrops to a child’s package. For adults, choose a small piece of jewelry or pin a holiday brooch or set or earrings to the ribbon. Of course, adults love candy canes too!

And let your imagination soar. For example, make the sorting of gifts under the tree easier by using a different color scheme for each recipient. You might use the same white or parcel background, but use ribbon, tags and paint of one color for each family member.

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