DIY Cloth Gift Tags, a Reflection on the Absurdity of Wrapping Paper

20131215-212954.jpgAfter I moved out of my parent’s house all those years ago it never occurred to me to buy wrapping paper.  I had witnessed first hand the amount of space it dominated for so much of the year.  My mother was always trying to find it a home where it wouldn’t get crushed, eaten by mice, or completely forgotten about.  Eventually the wrapping paper was relegated to the space under the basement stairs.  It was still a pain, even in that out of the way place. The rolls were so long that the only place you could really wrap presents was on the ping pong table in the unfinished basement.  It was really cold down there.  We used to dress in layers to take our turn in the ice cave on Christmas Eve.

The only consolation was the record player which spent its retirement next to my Smashball set and a couple tennis racquets.  Muppet Christmas, Bing Crosby, and the Clancy Brothers Christmas always felt like old friends. As I labored over the giant green table, watching my breath freeze before me, I became aware of how much I really resented all the tiny scraps of paper too small to use for anything.  The whole experience of wrapping presents just made me feel like I’d won the honor of feeding scraps to the recycling bin with frozen fingers.

Since that time I have been a gift bag girl.  I’ve used the same ones for years and years and the only problem I ever have is knowing which bag is for which person.  Although gift tags come with a paper tag, once it is used you have to resort to other methods of o20131215-212926.jpgrganization such as crossing out last year’s recipient and replacing them with someone else.  This can be awkward such as when that person has been divorced out of the family or what have you.

This year I pulled out my stash of holiday bags.  “Not bad, not bad,” I murmured looking over them for tears.  Glancing at the paper tags with their long lists of old gift-getters I resolved to find a solution.  Enter cloth gift tags.

I know.  We all have better things to do 10 days before Christmas than hide out next to our sewing machines ironing and stitching scraps of fabric we’d forgotten about.  Throw in the minutes it takes to reminisce about the last time you used that fabric and you’ve got a major time commitment.  However you can use them just about for ever.  Plus you get to use up your scraps.  And those thread colors you have no use for.  Although these tags could have been much more neatly done today was about productivity.


Step 1: With right sides together stitch most of the way around your square or rectangle.  They don’t have to look great.


Step 2: Turn the tag right side out (after clipping corners), stick a ribbon in the hole and top stitch around the whole shape. Stitch a letter on if you wish, loop it onto a gift bag. Tada!

Consider my tags an example to beat.  They are not here to look extraordinary but rather to show a possibility.  My sewing machine is old- it does not embroider and so I experimented with stitching letters on.  It didn’t go swimmingly but perhaps it will for you.  I made 3 tags for each member of my family, that ought to keep us going for a while.  The ribbons/leftover bias tape I used was cut in long segments so that the tags can be looped through themselves around the handle of a gift bag.

Next year I’d like to go ahead and make a few cloth gift bags, perhaps with velcro at one end.  You know, like those lunch bags from the 90’s that had a velcro strip at the top.  They would be washable and far more durable than the paper bags.  One day!

One thought on “DIY Cloth Gift Tags, a Reflection on the Absurdity of Wrapping Paper

  1. Great idea, Kristi! I hate buying fancy paper that just gets torn off and thrown out. It DOES seem like such a waste! I’ve even used comics from the Sunday paper with strands of contrasting yarn as ribbon for beautifying it up! Love the idea!

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