10 festive DIY Christmas gift wrapping ideas from the Victorian era.
‘Christmas presents must be wrapped very daintily this season’ (The Guthrie Daily Leader, 1909).
The traditional colors for Victorian Christmas gift wrapping were white and red: either white paper with red ribbon, or red paper with Christmas ribbons. But the Victorians also knew fun ways to wrap small gifts or give money as a gift: Victorian Christmas gifts were disguised as faux snowballs, Christmas crackers or even sausages!
10 Victorian Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas
White Paper & Red Ribbon
‘Suppose instead of doing up your Christmas parcels in the regulation white tissue paper and red ribbons this year, you have a little fun with your friends and get up a series of surprise packages.’ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906)
‘White paper with a poinsettia design in red will be a favorite wrapping paper. […] Ribbons for tying are of red, and there are gold-lettered warnings that the package must not be opened until Christmas that will be appreciated.’ (The Guthrie Daily Leader, 1909)
Related: How To Make Victorian Gilded Walnuts
I decorated the red & white wrapped gift with handmade Victorian paper ornaments and gilded walnuts.
Red Wrapping Paper
‘Christmas presents must be wrapped very daintily this season and all sorts of red paper will be used.’ (The Guthrie Daily Leader, 1909)
‘For a Christmas party it is a pretty idea […] to wrap up all the parcels in scarlet crinkled paper, tied up with Christmas ribbons.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)
I decorated the red Christmas present in the photo above with a red scarf and green ribbon. And decorated it with Victorian gilded leaves and acorn, handmade historical sugar ornaments and DIY metallic Edwardian ribbon flowers.
Newspaper As Wrapping Paper
‘Take time to wrap small gifts in bright paper and gay ribbons. These need not be expensive wrappings-a piece of yesterday’s newspaper and a strand of bright yarn is enough. (If the newspaper is part of the weekly colored comics, so much the better!)’ (How To Help The Shut-In Child: 313 Hints For Homebound Children, 1954)
Related: How To Make Felt Heart Ornaments
I used antique Edwardian newspaper to wrap the gift below. If you want to use the same Edwardian newspaper, you can print it here. And I decorated the gift with DIY felt ornaments and DIY metal leaves. By the way, the metal leaves are actually hair accessories!
Related: DIY Metal Leaf Hair Accessories
Wrap Christmas Gifts Like Sausages
‘An amusing Christmas package is three or four handkerchiefs done up in the mottled brown paper that comes from hardware stores and some butcher shops, and made to resemble a string of link sausages.’ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906)
‘Handkerchiefs can also be wrapped to look like the snapping crackers that are used at children’s parties by rolling them in oblong bits of tissue paper fringed at both ends.’ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906)
‘Small articles can be done up to look like snowballs in cotton batting, with just a sprinkling of silver dust’ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906).
Christmas Tree Gift Box
‘The exterior of the package must give no hint of the interior. […] The package consisted of an oblong box, just the length of the book, and about twice as high. This was neatly covered with bright holly red crepe paper put on with photograph paste, and the cover was treated in exactly the same way.
But the beauty of the box consisted of a little Christmas tree mounted on the top of the cover. This was made of a tiny branch of spruce (any evergreen could be used instead) pushed thru a little hole in the center of the cover, the end split with a pen-knife and the two portions fastened securely with a needle and stout thread. The little tree was then decorated with stars, crescents and diamonds cut out of tissue paper. These Christmas tree boxes can be easily made to contain any kind of presents, and give great delight both to children and grown people.’ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906)
Shaped Christmas Gift Boxes
Wrapped Christmas gifts ‘can be concealed beneath the leaves of paper roses, put in paper pies or hidden in papier mache apples, oranges, Christmas turkeys, etc. […]
Do not be afraid that the parcels will look silly. Remember that Christmas, above all other times of the year, should be a season of merriment, and if your little gift causes the recipient to laugh it has fulfilled its object.’ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906)
Victorian Christmas Gift Tags
‘There are tags with the same designs as those of the [wrapping] paper upon them. Pretty calendars are made to be pasted on the vacant spaces on the tags, which make them souvenirs that may be kept through the year.’ (The Guthrie Daily Leader, 1909)
Fun Ways To Give Money As A Gift
‘There are occasions when it is best to give money instead of articles, even then there may be a pleasant mystery about receiving it.
One son who always remembers his mother by the coin of the realm, has very original methods of doing it. Once the greenbacks were folded in narrow strips sewed to a fan, which, when opened, disclosed the peculiar manner of construction. A bow of gay holly ribbon was tied to the handle […] Last year he wove his banknotes into a pretty conventional pattern, bordered it with red and green ribbon, thereby making a small mat. He sent it with the tag of well-known rug dealers attached, and “hoped that the design on the inclosed rug would soften the pathway of life.” […]
Putting money in small coins in pill boxes is a good stunt, with a physician’s prescription blank filled out to “take one daily until gone.”‘ (The Minneapolis Journal, 1906)
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