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How to wrap any present like a pro in time for Christmas

Whatever gifts await, we have tips and tricks to up your wrapping game.

You've made your list and checked it twice. You're days (or maybe minutes) away from presenting your gift.

But how to make the outside of the present shine as brightly as what's inside? Especially if what's inside is shaped like, say, a football or a bicycle helmet?

We've wrapped every kind of present over the years at TODAY, and interviewed gift-wrapping experts, artists, lifestyle gurus and more for their best hacks for wrapping presents. As our last-minute gift to you, here are some of the best tips and tricks we've gotten over the years that will help even beginners neatly wrap any kind of present.

Gather gift wrap and supplies

First things first, create a gift-wrapping “station” with your supplies so it's less of a chore to break out the wrapping paper when you need it. Your station should include:

  • wrapping paper and fabric
  • scissors and wire cutters for wired ribbon and embellishment so you don't damage your scissors
  • double-sided tape, perfect for keeping paper and decorations in place
  • ribbon, placed on a dowel so it does not get tangled
  • tissue paper
  • stickers or washi tape

Wrap a box like a pro

Less paper is more when it comes to wrapping, according to  Jackie Gamble of Nordstrom. Too much paper will make your gift messy.

  • Use your hands to see how much paper you’ll need to climb the sides of the box, then cut to size.
  • Alternately, you can wrap the paper around the box, mark the spot where the paper meets itself, and cut.
  • Once you've cut the paper, fold the edges over neatly to hide any cut marks or irregularities.
  • Run your fingers along any creases on the box to form crisp edges.
  • Place double-sided tape on the edge of the paper and pull it tight across the box.
  • Fold the top edge down, then tuck the sides in and bring the bottom edge up to the top and fasten with double-sided tape.

Use the gift-wrapping hack that amazed the Internet

The trick in the video above will help you wrap a gift in just 15 seconds. It can even work if you think your paper is too small for your gift.

  • Cut wrapping paper so you’re able to wrap the gift with a 2-inch overhang. Paper should cover both sides of the package’s height.
  • Position the narrow side of your box diagonally across the sheet of wrapping paper.
  • Lift the edge of your paper to meet the upper corner of the gift.
  • This creates a triangle. Crease section onto gift and pull corner upward, flush onto the box’s edge.
  • A new edge is created. Once again push paper onto gift and pull corner up once more.
  • Flip present over and tape edge.
  • Two new edges are created on the narrowest side of your box. Fold the triangle of paper down like the top of an envelope. Tape to secure.

For oddly shaped gifts, use fabric or cellophane

Even expert gift wrappers can be stumped by a ball, bicycle or other oddly shaped gift.

The Japanese tradition of furoshiki uses a piece of pretty fabric to cover up a gift without the use of tape, pins, clips or other accessories — it’s just knots and fabric! Once the gift is bestowed, the receiver actually gives the fabric back.

  • Use a clean dish towel for smaller items, and a sheet or a tablecloth can work for larger items like a small bike.
  • Simply wrap the gift like you would with paper, then tie a bow with the fabric itself.
  • For a wine bottle, Martha Stewart suggests putting a holiday card or family photo over the wine bottle’s label, and adding bells and twine.
  • Wrap the bottle in tinsel garland, and add a Christmas ornament for the finishing touch!

Another option for an oddly shaped gift is cellophane — it's supposed to look wrinkled, so you don't have to fight it.

Make a custom gift bag with wrapping paper

Another approach for an oddly shaped item is your own custom gift bag.

  • Cut enough gift wrap to cover the item, then add an extra inch.
  • Fold the paper in half and fold the other side so it overlaps by a half inch. Tape the edge down.
  • Fold the bottom edge up, make sure the width is enough to compensate for the width of the item you’ll be placing inside the bag.
  • Flatten the corners to make two triangles.
  • Next, fold the opposite edges to the middle and secure with tape.
  • Fluff your bag open and place your gift inside.
  • Close the bag and decorate with string, ribbons or ornaments. You can use a hole punch to run a ribbon through two holes and tie in a bow.

No wrapping paper? No problem

Say you have a last-minute gift and somehow failed to create a gift-wrap station. (How dare you!)

No problem: Stewart recommends wrapping items in plain paper, then using things from around the house to embellish — think stamps, stickers, glitter, gold paint, pinecones, bells or ornaments.

To make quick gift tags, use Christmas cards! Cut out a cute tag from a card, punch a hole in it and string some ribbon or twine through it.

Cut ribbon to size

  • The proper length for the overhang of a ribbon on a gift is from your wrist to your elbow, according to Luis Herrera of Williams-Sonoma.
  • Make two knots to keep the ribbon in place.
  • Use ribbon with wire to give the bow shape, then pinch with your fingers to give it more volume.
  • To shape the ends, fold in the edges and cut diagonally.
  • Use double-sided tape to secure the end of the ribbon to the box, leaving it loose to create more volume.

Think outside the box

Bryan Luterman of Neiman Marcus showed us an expert hack for a last-minute gift for dad. If you've got a shirt and tie, simply use the tie as a ribbon around the box.

Artist and gift-wrapping expert Alton Dulaney suggested completely camouflaging an oddly shaped gift by making a tricycle into a cardboard reindeer, for example.

Alternately, you can wrap something that looks exactly like what it is, like a doll house covered in colorful paper.

Elevate your embellishments

  • Consider velvet ribbon to elevate your wrapping with a simple bow.
  • Fabric can be tied on a package in place of ribbon.
  • Washi tape makes a great replacement for ribbon and won't budge.
  • Personalize your paper! Minted will create custom wrapping paper with your favorite family photos.
  • Or do it yourself — decorate plain wrapping paper or craft paper with a stamp or painted pattern.
  • Spruce up plain paper with a dry brush effect. (Watch this demonstration by Monica Mangin, co-founder of East Coast Creative!)
  • Use a label-maker to create custom and colorful to-from tags.

Mangin also suggests using clay to create a personalized gift tag that can be used as a coaster.