How To: Make Typographic Gift Wrap

created at: 12/07/2010

This year, I vowed to only make or buy handmade holiday gifts for my friends and family, and I’ve kept to it so far. But wrapping these gifts in commercial paper didn’t seem to make much sense, so I wanted to create some handmade gift wrap to match. I happen to think a gift wrapped in newsprint is actually quite attractive, and love the look of text on a package, but wanted to put in a little more effort. So I came up with a cool option that’s clean, masculine, and maintains the typographic look of the newsprint. Plus, it eliminates the need for any “to:/from” tags, as the recipient’s name is right there in tasteful type.

Once I figured it out, it was actually quite easy and quick – less than ten minutes per gift. The unbleached brown craft paper is only $1.25 per roll, and the book pages came from 25¢ war novel at the secondhand shop. To me, this beats the pants off of any mass-produced “Ho Ho Ho” paper in both price and style.

Here’s how to do it:  

Materials and Tools

  • Brown craft paper or solid wrapping paper
  • A used book
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Alphabet templates, available in four typefaces at
  • Tracing set-up, such as light source and clear glass or plastic (see below)
  • Glue stick

1. Use the ultility knife to remove the pages from the spine of the book.

2. Wrap gift as normal, and note its size, measuring if you’re as detail-oriented (read: obsessive) as I am.

created at: 12/07/2010

3. Choose the alphabet you’d like to use and download the templates at, or create your own in the typeface of your choice. Ours are fully scaleable PDFs, so print them out at the right type size to match your gift.

created at: 12/07/2010

4a. Best scenario: Make some sort of easy tracing setup. I don’t have a light box, but I just use a clamp light under the plastic case for my turntable. A flash light and some glass or plexi from a picture frame will work, or even a window during daylight hours. Use the pencil to trace out the necessary letters onto the pages of the book.

created at: 12/07/2010

4b. Okay scenario: If you can’t figure out a workable tracing solution, keep trying! It’ll save you tons of time! If you still can’t figure out a workable tracing solution, print the alphabet onto cardstock, and cut out each letter, and use them as a stencil to transfer the shapes onto your paper.

created at: 12/07/2010

5. Then, just cut out the letters, and glue them onto the package with a glue stick. Be sure to cover all of the edges of the letter with glue, so they don’t curl. I went with right justifying the letters on the bottom, but experiment with what works best for each gift.

created at: 12/07/2010

6. That’s it! Just repeat steps 4 and 5 for each of your packages. I found I only had to print out the template in two sizes for all of my gifts.

Happy Holidays!