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Thursday, December 17, 2020

How to Make an Arrow Gift Bow from Strips of Gift Wrap Paper

I linked to a star bow made from gift wrap in my post on gift wrapping using recycled materials. Today, I wanted to show you an easier bow to make from strips of gift wrap, an arrow bow. 

In a previous incarnation, I did a stint in the gift wrapping department of a boutique department store. We made our own bows for our packages, using ribbon. We had a big poofy bow that we used on packages to be taken by the customer. But we also had a flatter bow for the packages that were to be shipped. As I said, we used ribbon to make these bows. However, strips of gift wrap paper work well on the flatter arrow bow. A single bow takes about 5 minutes to make, and they get quicker and easier with each successive bow.

Here, I've used a long scrap of gift wrap that was leftover after wrapping a box. The strip is not quite 2 inches wide by about 18 inches long.

For a small to medium size box, I cut my paper into two 3/4-inch wide strips. (For a large box, I would cut the scraps into 1.5-inch wide strips. With the wider strips, I would also need more  length to each strip, perhaps about two 30-inch lengths.)

At one end of a strip, wrap and turn the end of the paper around and under the rest of the strip, making a point, as below.

Use a small piece of clear tape on the back side to hold the point in place. Every time you turn another point, use a small piece of tape to secure it. 

In the gift wrap department, we were using woven ribbon which was easier to hold in one's hand as we turned points, therefore not needing to tape each turn. However, gift wrap paper tends to slip around and curl up on itself and taping is an easy solution for holding in place.

With the long end of the strip, turn an equal-sized opposing point and tape in place on the back side. It will look like below when flipped right side up.

Form an additional pair of opposing points, making them slightly larger than the first pair, taping on the back side.

To make a third pair of opposing points, you'll likely need to extend the length of your strip by taping the second strip of gift wrap to the back side. I chose a spot near the last point to tape this strip on, making the seam less visible. If you zoom in, you can see the merge point of the two strips is below the pointed end.

Complete a third pair of opposing points and staple in the center of the bow. (If you were making a bow of wider paper for a larger package, you may want four sets of points, total.)

Trim the extending end to about 2.5 to 3 inches from the outside point and give it a decorative finish.

With a scrap of your last strip, make a small loop about 1-inch in diameter. Tape it on the underside.

Place the loop, seam side down, on top of your bow. As best as you can, fit a stapler into the loop and secure the loop onto the bow. Turn the bow around and staple into the other side of the loop.

The points on each end should roughly line up, as below. What made this bow our "mailing" bow was that when flattened inside a shipping bow, it still looked good.

My paper bows are never perfect, but I think they look nice on my packages, nonetheless. And as a bonus, the bows use a scrap of paper that would otherwise be thrown away.

Happy holiday gift-wrapping!


  1. That is very pretty paper and the bow is the perfect topper. Reading through the instructions, it doesn't seem too hard to make that bow. However, I often find things seem easy until I try them. We'll see what happens the next time I get the wrapping paper out. I wrapped several things yesterday and have stowed the supplies again. This weekend, I will probably do some more wrapping

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      This is Dollar Tree gift wrap bought after Christmas last year for 50 cents. We found a lot of nice gift wrap, although some of the papers were on the thin side.

      Let me know how it goes, if you try this bow. I think it's very easy, but then I've been making them for a very long time. So, I'm interested to know if this is as easy for someone else.

      Have a great day, Live and Learn!

  2. I'm amazed at all the different bows out there. I imagine you were a star wrapper at your job! Very nice. Does it look best with shiny wrapping paper?

    1. Hi Kris,
      I was just a so-so wrapper. There were some ladies who had been wrappers for many years and could whip out bows in under 2 minutes. The did teach me how to neatly wrap packages, though.

      I don't think it matters whether the paper is metallic or not, but a non-metallic paper that has a glossy finish would be better due to the added thickness of the paper from the gloss, than a thin, cheap paper. Another paper that I bought at Dollar Tree last year has such a fun print, but the paper itself is very thin. I've had to contrive other ways to dress up packages wrapped in that paper.

      Wishing you a wonderful day, Kris!


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