Gift Toppers: Go Beyond the Bow

December 14, 2015 1

Gift Toppers: Go Beyond the Bow

Never judge a book by its cover. That adage may be true for people and, hey, maybe even novels, but when it comes to gifts, presentation is everything. While a decent wrap job is a must, squared-off corners and clean seams can only get you so far. Just as important is what’s on top.

If done well, a gift topper lends a touch of razzle-dazzle that makes opening the present much more exciting. It’s also an opportunity to personalize the gift even more with a special embellishment they’ll savor. Plus, it’s a cinch to pull off—all reasons enough to bypass the crumpled bag of prepackaged bows.

Here are some out-of-the-box, gift-topper ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Bring in Mother Nature

Wrapped Christmas present on the Table

It may not have the lush green of spring or the golden hues of fall, but winter is undeniably beautiful. Using pieces from the great outdoors as a topper can turn a plain old rectangular box into something warm and inviting. Best part? Everything you need is just outside your home—and it won’t cost you a dime. Simply gather up some miniature pine cones and twigs—spray-paint gold or silver for extra oomph—and arrange with freshly cut herbs or berries. Secure with a piece of raffia or ribbon.

For a luxe natural look, take your cue from Marcelle Kick, who oversees visual design for The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina. She recommends starting with paper and satin ribbon in one color family—like red and orange, yellow and gold, or shades of green. Wrap the gift as usual and tie the ribbon into a bow. Then, tuck a plant clipping, like a magnolia pod, into the homemade bow for extra pizzazz. For maximum beauty, “cut sprigs the same day you are giving the gift,” she advises.

Be Childish


Finish off presents with whimsical add-ons that will delight the kids and the kids at heart. The key here is to use items they’ll enjoy: a pint-sized platoon of toy soldiers glued on top the box for your older brother, a few rolls of Smarties for your wise BFF, a vintage baseball card for your dad. You get the idea.

‘Tis the Season

Harvey Lewis™ Silver-Plated Monogram Ornament Made with Swarovski® Elements
Harvey Lewis™ Silver-Plated Monogram Ornament Made with Swarovski® Elements

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so why not let the holiday fun extend to gift toppers? Use a glue gun or ribbons to festoon packages with ornaments, tinsel, tiny bells, plastic icicles, figurines, or whatever holiday-themed goodies you have left over.

Tie in a Hobby


Go the extra mile by placing a thoughtfully chosen item that represents the recipient’s passion—like a handy avocado slicer for your guac-loving neighbor, or a set of golf tees for your Rory McIlroy-wannabe nephew. “For a foodie, I’ve wrapped gifts in pages from a favorite cookbook and used antique measuring spoons instead of a bow,” says Lynne Maureen Curtis of StyleLynne Inc. “For a music lover, try wrapping the gift in liner notes or sheet music, then adorn it with a miniature instrument from an arts and crafts store.”


Repurposing what you already have can save you money and time, two resources most of us can’t afford to waste come the holiday season. Reena Kazmann, director of, suggests cutting out funky shapes from old Christmas cards and gluing them to the gift, or attaching over-the-top costume jewelry you scored at a flea market or yard sale. “Gift toppers are fun because anything goes,” she says.

Comments (1)

  1. Loved all the good info and tips. Hope you keep the recipes around into January when there is more time to try them out!

    - Janet ck

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