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All wrapped up: give your packages homespun personality


Simple backgrounds--polka dots, stripes, plain white and red paper, or even clear plastic bags--make great backgrounds for creative touches. Pair dots with plaid ribbon; tie on multiple ribbons; embellish a tag with a string of beads hung across a cut-out "window." An oversize gift tag dresses up a bottle presented in a velvet bag. Rubber stamp your designs onto card stock, and cut the edges with pinking shears. Use silver cord to drape it on the bottle. Be the belle of the holiday potluck when you bring this gilt-cure-cheese course. Crisscross two lengths of ribbon over the top of a cheese dome and tape to the bottom of the plate. Another gift--a festive cheese knife--takes the place of a bow. A piece of twine with jingle bells dangling along its length holds the knife and ribbon in place.



There's no need for fancy paper or big ruffly bows when you use a pretty gift tag you designed yourself. Rubber stamps when up plain shipping tags. Earn extra personality points with crafty additions, such as tiny pom-poms at the center and tips of a snowflake. Create three-dimensional flourishes with handmade cutouts, like the harlequin stamped tree, or purchased accents, such as paper poinsettias. Beaded twists of colored crafts wire and miniature ornaments also make spirited tag embellishments. To really highlight an ornament, put it in a frame. Cut a circle from the middle of rectangular striped paper. Poke a small hole in the paper above the circle and tie on an ornament with thin twine. Attach the "frame" to the package with photo corners.


Some presents are their own wrappings. A pretty red glass bowl filled with pistachios makes a simple and sweet hostess gift. Cinch it up in a piece of clear acetate so the bowl is the star. In lieu of a card, adorn it with a printed ribbon that expresses your sentiments. A parchment paper bonnet and a stripe of ribbon is all you need to finish off a jar of homemade preserves. Tape a strip of paper or fabric ribbon around the jar. Cut a circle of parchment paper that's about 2 inches bigger than the jar lid. Drape it over the lid, folding into little pleats around the edge, and secure with waxed twine or embroidery thread. Give two gifts in one when you wrap a loaf of homemade bread in a snappy dish towel. Add a tag, and tie with a length of color-coordinated cord.

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