There are some really gorgeous wrapping papers out there. But I'd rather save them for crafts than watch them be mindlessly ripped off the gifts on Christmas morning—especially when the nicer ones cost a dollar plus per foot! Instead, for the past few years I've put one of my mother's favorite craft projects to good use: employing potato stamps to make custom wrapping paper. A twofer, it not only engages my kids for an hour or two, it also provides me with reams of holiday paper at a fraction of the cost.
For a list of materials and step-by-step instructions, see below.
Photographs by Justine Hand.
Above: The supplies for making potato print wrapping paper are pretty simple and economical. By using inexpensive brown Kraft Paper from my local hardware store, I was able to make beautiful, custom paper for an average of 16 cents per foot.
Above: If you use a cookie cutter, potato stamps are easy to make; with younger kids, adults will want to handle the knife.
Above: One gingerbread stamp, ready for paint.
Above: My daughter, Solvi, dabs her tree-shaped potato stamp into some silver paint.
Above: Oliver opted for gold for his oak leaf.
Above: The first stamp!
Above: Many more followed.
Above: A row of white gingerbread men (symmetry achieved by Mama).
Above: You can tell from her face that Solvi is having a ball banging out her trees. Fortunately, the wonky application is part of homemade wallpaper's appeal.
Above: A sweet presentation: a gift wrapped in gingerbread men is finished with some Cotton Candy Stripe Ribbon from Shop Fog Linen; $14 for a set of three in red, blue and brown.
Above: Simply lovely, our silver tree paper needs little more than white pine and privet berries from my yard tied with Cotton Metallic Ribbon from Studio Carta; $9.
Above: You can even dress up your homemade kraft paper packages. Wrapped with a larch bow and blue velvet ribbon from Anthropologie, our gilded oak leaf paper looks fit for a king (a woodsy royal at least).
DIY Potato Print Wrapping Paper
- kraft paper - This can be bought in bulk at varying lengths and widths. I used several 15"x2.5" rolls, available at Create For Less for $2.29/roll. (Note: If you can find it, less heavy kraft paper makes wrapping a tad easier.)
- large potatoes
- small cookie cutters - From Country Kitchen Sweetart, I bought a mini oak leaf cutter; $1.25, a small tree; $1.25 and a wee gingerbread man; $1.25.
- craft paint - I used Martha Stewart in gold, silver and white from Michael's.
- paper plates for the paint
- pointed knife
First make your stamps. (See the second set of photos above for a visual aid.) Taking one half of a potato, insert your cookie cutter into the center until the side is half way in. With a parring knife cut into the potato and around the whole cookie cutter, using the knife's tip to get into the narrow spots. Gently lift the cutting away and remove the cookie cutter from the potato.
Lay your kraft paper across a long surface such as a dining table or the floor. Tape or weigh the ends. Then squeeze a small amount of paint onto a plate and use your potato to spread it thinly. Dab your potato stamp into the paint lifting it to make sure the stamp is evenly covered with a thin layer of paint. (Too much will cause a smudge.) Then stamp it onto the paper. Repeat until the surface is covered to your satisfaction.
Once your paper in dry, it's ready for wrapping. I choose bits of nature as the finishing touches on mine. And since I saved so much on paper and supplies, I may have indulged a little more on ribbon. But these I find easier to salvage from the unwrapping wreckage and reuse.
N.B. Looking for more economic holiday crafts inspired by nature? See our Gilded Tree.