Pretty Packages: 45 Creative Gift-Wrapping Projects

By Sally J Shim

Photographs by Madelene Farin


What’s better than a little birthday present or graduation gift? How it’s presented, of course!

As a kid I was always all about the presentation of a gift and often thought of weird and wacky ideas in order to disguise a present for its recipient. My father has always been incredibly good at guessing what’s under the Christmas tree before he has opened any presents, and so as a kid I often tried to trick him by wrapping each gift with bubble wrap and layers upon layers of wrapping paper. Once, I even put a book in a box and filled the box with marbles just so he wouldn’t be able to guess it was a hefty paperback. He guessed it anyway.

Over the years I’ve developed my wrapping skills, and instead of disguising books with extra padding and noisemakers, I usually stick to more traditional methods of wrapping. As a paper lover, Christmasses and Birthdays are terrific excuses for indulging in beautiful wrapping paper and ribbons to add that je ne sais quoi to the presentation of a special present. Usually I work with the bits and pieces I find around my studio, but now, I think I’ll refer to the oh so cleaver and delightful ideas in Pretty Packages.

There’s something delicious in the thoughtfulness that goes into presenting a gift to a loved one and this book is just full of gorgeous ideas to inspire you for all of your gift-giving needs. Instead of ripping open these delightful presents, recipients will want to cherish the wrapping just as much as the gift inside.

Blogger and designer Sally J. Shim has put together a lovely collection of various packaging ideas to make every present look like a show-stopper. She begins by demonstrating various traditional wrapping methods, followed by cute and creative alternatives to make every present look spectacular. From hand painted wrapping paper and felted pompom decorations to personalized draw string goodie bags, Pretty Packages offers inspiration for wrapping even the trickiest of gifts (so I can leave the bubble wrap and marbles aside!). There’s even a section on how to package edible treats. Learn how to create a Brownie Mix Glass Jar Kit here!


I enjoy giving edible gifts to friends because I know they won’t sit around and collect dust. Not only can the recipient enjoy a treat, but they can reuse the glass container. Brownie mixes are a sweet treat that everyone will enjoy, especially when you’ve done all the hard work for them (you’ll be providing the ingredients, but don’t mix them up!). Including a stamped wood spoon and a mini recipe card adds a warm touch.

MAKES 1 jar


One 36-oz/1-L clean, dry glass jar with lid

3¾-in-/9.5-cm-long wooden spoon

1 manila tag, 2½ by 4 in/6 by 10 cm

1 piece of twine, 12 in/30.5 cm long



1 cup/200 g granulated sugar

1 cup/200 g firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup/60 g all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1¼ cups/120 g cocoa powder

6 oz/170 g chocolate chips (optional)

½ cup/55 g chopped nuts (optional)



Rolling alphabet stamp

Black stamp pad

Drill with ¹/ 8-in/3-mm wood drill bit



  1. Pour half of the granulated sugar into the glass jar, followed by all of the brown sugar. Next, pour in the remaining granulated sugar, followed by half of the flour and salt. Finally, pour in all of the cocoa powder, and top it off with the remaining flour and salt. If you have extra space at the top of your container, add some of the chocolate chips or nuts, if desired. Put the lid on the glass jar.
  2. Using the rolling alphabet stamp (a stamp with individual dials with the entire alphabet) and the black stamp pad, stamp “BROWNIES” on the spoon handle. Drill a hole in the end of the handle.
  3. On the manila tag, write or print out the recipe using the following text to include with the jar.
  4. String the twine through the holes in the spoon and the recipe card, and wrap the twine around the neck of the glass jar. Secure the twine with a knot and trim the ends with the scissors.




Makes 16 brownies



4 eggs

1 glass jar brownie mix

8 oz/225 g butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla extract



  • Preheat the oven to 300ºF/150ºC. Butter and flour an 8-in/20-cm square pan.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy. Add the brownie mix and beat to combine. Add the melted butter and the vanilla and beat to combine.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 1 hour.
  • Cut into 2-by-2-in/5-by-5-cm squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Extract taken from Pretty Packages by Sally J. Shim, photography by Madelene Farin, published by Chronicle Books, rrp £12.99  Available in all good book shops and on Amazon.  

Image credit: © 2014 by Sally J Shim

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