When Ellen Ivey starts wrapping up to 30 Christmas gifts for family and friends this year, she’ll know exactly where all her supplies are — in big plastic bins tucked neatly into the back of a closet, out of the way but easy to reach.
“It’s important that it’s organized so you can find what you’re looking for,” says Ivey, 67, of Baltimore. “If you don’t, you wonder where are the labels, ribbons and paper or you keep buying things you already have. And it’s always tangled up.”
Whether you have a big family, need to meet shipping deadlines or just like to create beautiful packages, organizing your gift wrap supplies can make the process easier, faster and more fun.
“People are really into gift giving these days and crafting and making it look beautiful,” but they also usually have their supplies, such as bows, wrapping paper and boxes, scattered around, says Naeemah Ford Goldson, owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing in Atlanta. “It tends to get messy.”
Taking time now to organize your gift wrapping supplies can help reduce stress later — and bring other organizational benefits, experts say.
“You can find what you need quickly and easily, so it saves you time,” says Amy Bloomer, a professional home organizer in the Baltimore area who has a master’s degree in organizational psychology. “And you’re less likely to buy a bunch of stuff that you already have at home, so it also saves money.”
Here are 10 ideas to organize your gift wrapping.
1. Focus on containment
Hold all your supplies in clear, plastic, stackable containers, which also will protect them from damage. Smaller containers are good for loose items like bows, ribbons and tags. Bloomer, owner of Let Your Space Bloom, likes to put reels of ribbons in a plastic basket with holes in the sides, pull the ends through the holes to secure them and for easy roll-out to use them. If you’re on a budget, shoe boxes work just as well, says Goldson, and “you can even jazz the boxes up with wrapping paper.” Use larger. plastic, stackable containers for larger items or if you have many ribbons.
2. Create a file bag system
People like to reuse gift bags, so they tend to have many. Bloomer likes to “file” flattened bags by standing them up in a plastic file box. DIYers can upcycle a cardboard box, crate or magazine rack.
3. Organize wrapping paper
Long tubes of wrapping paper may be the most awkward supply to store. You’ll find plenty of products for less than $10, such as the Zober wrapping paper storage bag ($7.99 and up, Amazon) or the slim Wondershop 40" Clear Vertical Wrap Box ($16, Target). For something larger that takes up minimal space, check out the Elfa gift packaging over-the-door rack ($128.50, The Container Store). You also can go DIY by storing tubes in a garment bag, folding-chair bag, yoga-mat carrier or laundry basket.
4. Get hooked
Install hooks just about anywhere to hang ribbons, mesh or gift bags. Be creative: Use hooks in different colors and shapes or a rack with multiple hooks. Goldson, who hosts the podcast Organize Me! Radio, likes removable adhesive hooks. “They can be hidden in a closet,” she says. “They’re good for renters.”
5. Maximize storage in small spaces
If you have limited space, put all gift wrap items, including long tubes, in one under-the-bed storage bin with a lid or zipper to keep out dust. First, measure under your bed to make sure a storage solution will fit.
6. Create a system
Arrange supplies by occasion, color or size — or a combination of those methods — in containers. Bloomer likes to organize ribbons, tissue paper and other supplies by colors of the rainbow, so it’s easier to mix and match.
7. Label everything
Labeling the exterior of containers will save you time and aggravation later when you may be in a rush. “I don’t have to wonder what’s in there,” Ivey says of her labeled bins. “Everything is where it needs to be. It just makes spatial sense.”
8. Make it portable
If you’re short on space, consider creating a portable gift-wrap cart — a wheeled office cart with drawers and cubbies. A smaller, less expensive option is a large, transparent DIMPA storage bag ($4.99, Ikea) or the knock-off VENO bag (set of four, $29.99, Amazon), which are clear plastic with a zipper. The Simplify Adjustable Gift Wrapping Bag Organizer ($20.99, Bed, Bath & Beyond) comes with many pockets. “I love them,” Bloomer says. “You can tuck them on the top of a closet. They’re good for basements and storage units because they’re fairly impenetrable.”
9. Keep tools handy
Store scissors, cellophane tape and markers so they're easy to get to. Pack them in a box within a large container, on a tray or in a desk organizer. Goldson recommends using a peg board to hold supplies like that as well as ribbons and gift bags.
10. Designate a gift-wrapping station
If you have space, set aside a room or closet as a place to store supplies and wrap gifts. You can buy shelving units or DIYers can recycle an old bookshelf or an unused cabinet. Install tension rods across the space to hold paper tubes or ribbon rolls you can use on the spot.
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Sheryl Jean is a contributing writer who covers aging, business, technology, travel, health and human-interest stories. A former reporter for several daily metropolitan newspapers, her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News and on the American Heart Association's website.