10 Ways to Elevate Your Gift Giving

A little genuine thoughtfulness can go a long way, and this is certainly true with the art of gift-giving...both inside and out. Silver Cup Artist Lauren Jolly recently partnered with gift design studio Memento & Muse to illustrate how you can pour on a little extra TLC this Mother's Day, by presenting that very special woman with a lovely creation before she even opens her gift.

(Just remember to keep it fun! Rather than attempting all of the following tips in one gift wrapping session, Memento & Muse founder Melinda McKee recommends picking three or four tips to try out for starters, then adding in others the next time you have an opportunity.)

Plus, for an easy but extra special finish, Memento & Muse and Sage Paper Co. have combined their talents to offer you a complimentary set of print-and-cut watercolor gift tags! Read on to learn more...

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One: Start with a clean, hard work surface.

When real life happens, uncluttered work surfaces can certainly be hard to come by at times. But if your goal is smoothly wrapped gifts with crisp edges, working on a soft bed or carpeted floor isn't going to give you the results you want. Make room on a table or counter, or even a clean hardwood or tile floor, and you'll find it much easier to fold sharp, even creases as you work.

(Nothing spoils a beautiful gift wrapping job like a dirt or food smudge, though, so don't forget to give your work surface a quick wipe-down before setting up!)

Two: Use new gift boxes.

Tempting as it may be to reuse old boxes, trying to wrap paper around worn-out sides and smooshed corners is going to make it harder to get those neat, clean lines. Send your used boxes to the recycling bin, and hunt down some fresh new ones the next time you're at Target or Michaels.

Three: Fold over raw exposed edges of gift wrap.

Folding over raw edges that would otherwise be exposed is one of the best and easiest little tricks to enhance your gift wrapping game. While it might not be explicitly noticed by your recipient, it takes just a few seconds, and will contribute to an overall more polished look.

Four: Make friends with double-sided tape.

It may take a few tries to get accustomed to using tape underneath your paper folds instead of on top of them, but the effect is beautifully flawless. (Just can't get into the double-sided variety? Opt for Scotch's "GiftWrap" tape ~ its satiny finish is clear without being shiny, so it's less noticeable than standard office tape.)

Five: Remember, less is usually more.

When choosing patterned gift wrap, try this trick for a truly elevated look: if you think the pattern would be attractive on a pillow cover or as a framed art print, go for it!

Truth be told, though, few party store or bargain-bin rolls meet that design standard, which is why solid-color gift wrap or kraft paper is an excellent, versatile option to keep on hand. Depending on how you embellish it, solid-color papers can be adapted to just about any style preference and occasion.

And if you do love a good pattern, check out online purveyors of fine paper goods like Rifle andSmock for swoon-worthy designs...just be sure to let the pattern speak for itself, by using simple ribbons/embellishments in contrast.

Six: When using gift bags, opt for fabric rather than paper or plastic.

Fabric bags ~ especially in natural fibers like cotton, silk, jute, and linen ~ offer triple benefits. They have a refined look, they're a quicker gift packaging solution than gift wrap, and they can often be reused for other occasions and purposes.

Seven: Make the vessel part of the gift.

Speaking of reusable items...why not make the container part of the gift itself? As the chic cousin of the everyday gift basket, a well-made storage vessel is an especially attractive way to display a curated gift collection. It usually won't need much in the way of wrapping or adornment beyond a ribbon or gift tag, and your recipient can repurpose it right away. (Just remember to select a fairly shallow storage container, as deep bins will require a lot of extra filler material to keep gift items from getting lost at the bottom.)

Eight: For ribbons and embellishments, avoid plastic ~ look for woven fibers and natural elements instead.

Like with fabric gift bags, natural fiber-based ribbons immediately give a greater sense of elegance than party store synthetic (i.e. plastic) ribbons. And simple squares of soft fabric can make lovely gift wrap, too...no tape or ribbons needed.

For additional embellishments, let Mother Nature inspire you! If your gift-giving schedule allows for a quick turnaround, fresh-cut florals can be a delightful touch; otherwise dried botanicals or even pretty silk flowers can liven up a gift package in an unexpected way.

Nine: Always use sharp scissors to cut fabric ribbon.

Carefully frayed edges can be chic, but raggedy, chopped-up ends? Not so much! Keeping a pair of sharp scissors that are used only for fabric (and never on paper) will ensure you always get clean cuts and a neat finish.

Ten: Add a final personal touch with a gift tag.

Go the extra mile by adding a gift tag to commemorate the occasion or celebrate that special individual. If you can, choose tie-on tags over stickers...there's something beautifully nostalgic and personal about that final hand-tied touch.

For your gifting pleasure this Mother's Day and beyond, please enjoy this hand-painted gift tag printable courtesy of Memento & Muse and Sage Paper Co.! (Click image to download)

Artistic Credits  Location: The Leslie-Alford Mims House Photography: Lauren Jolly Photography Farm Table: Greenhouse Picker Sisters Fresh Florals: Serendipity Designs Nail Services: Paintbar Raleigh Gift Tags: Memento & Muse + Sage Paper Co. Silk Ribbons & Fabric Wrapping: Adorn Gift Wrapping & Styling: Memento & Muse