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Just like gift boxes and bags, wrapping paper doesn't have to be humdrum, either. Here are some inventive ideas for either creating your own wrapping papers or using paper materials you have on hand in new ways:
Use colorful but outdated maps as wrapping paper. This is especially appropriate for a man's gift or a gift related to travel. Topographical maps that are no longer accurate can sometimes be obtained for free from local community agencies and are quite colorful and interesting.
Plain brown paper becomes an excellent base for any number of homemade paper techniques. For example, use a hot glue gun (adults should do this) to glue pennies onto a brown-paper-wrapped package in either a pleasingly spaced pattern or a specific design.
Plain white paper (butcher's wrap works well) is also a nice "field" for decoration. Cut out colorful magazine pictures and glue them on with white craft glue, or make snowflakes out of silver or gold paper and glue them on. Stamp the paper with silver or gold ink or draw squiggles with a gold or silver paint pen for another variation.
Use fabric as you would paper and wrap your gift in pretty fabric scraps. This is especially appreciated by other crafters, who can use the fabric for their own projects.
Scarves, tea towels, napkins, or handkerchiefs also make wonderful fabric wraps. The wrap becomes a gift, too!
Tulle makes a lovely wrapping for bottles or baskets. If you don't want the contents to show through, double the tulle or wrap the object loosely in tissue first.
Wrap a gift in a poster or full-page magazine photo. Choose an image that will clue the recipient into the gift (or completely mislead him or her!).
Antique photographs photocopied onto paper make beautiful gift wrap paper. Or go to a copy shop and make color photocopies of snapshots of the giftee. Glue them onto plain paper.
Use some of the handmade papers you learned how to make in Make Your Own Paper.
Wallpaper makes great gift wrap. Some embossed wallpapers are especially elegant.
Use computer clip art to create unique gift wrap for smaller gifts. Color clip art (printed with a color printer) is one alternative, but even black-and-white printouts can be jazzed up with colored paints, markers, or crayons (or left alone). Kids can "paint" or draw in a software graphics program and create their very own designs.
Use old sheet music or old calendar pages as wrapping paper. You can also cut up old calendars and use them as decorative scrap.
Use kids' drawings or coloring book pages to wrap smaller gifts.
Make your own marbleized papers. These are easy to do.