Christmas Ribbons And Bows

I’m a Christmas bow maker! Decades ago I learned how to make bows from the gift wrapping department of a famous Philadelphia department store. And that started a lifetime of wrapping pretty gifts and adorning them with the prettiest bows. I’ve compiled the best tips and tricks and simple bow skills that will have you making gorgeous bows all Christmas! My friends can tell my gifts a mile away! It’s all about the bows…

Make sure to see the HOW TO MAKE A PRETTY CHRISTMAS BOW video at the end of this post.


Today I’m in the sitting room off my bedroom at my desk. I’ve organized all the things I’ll be using for wrapping gifts this year. Thought you would like a peek!

First let me say, all bows don’t have to be opulent or difficult to make. Even the sweetest little tied twine embellishments can make a gift stand out if you know how to tie it right!

For me, it all begins with organization! And the kind of ribbon used for bows.

First, get rid of 90% of your paper ribbon.  You are wasting money by using them only once! Paper ribbon does not make very attractive bows and you will never build up a great stash of ribbons for bows!

Save some very thin tinselly paper-type ribbon. It is great for tying bows together and adding a bit of curly fun to a package.

Here’s how to start a great ribbon collection. Only buy very nice, real ribbon! It can be wired or sparkly or satin or silk. Thin or thick. Just start finding ribbon on sale and collect it. It’s so surprising how inexpensive real ribbon can be if you keep your eyes open!

I collect ribbon in color families: black and white, silver and gold, red and pink, blue and green. I might have an odd length of aqua or orange ribbon but mostly I stick to these colors.

My go-to ribbon is black and white check. Because I keep a very limited color palette of wrapping paper and love solids and polka dot paper a black and white ribbon almost always looks smashing!

This Christmas the ribbon I’ll be using is from my gold and silver stash along with white. After a ribbon is used, especially at Christmas, I roll it up and keep it with other like colored ribbon in clear plastic shoeboxes. So when I’m ready to wrap gifts I have lots of selections and different lengths of real ribbon.

Our family and extended families have been using real ribbon for a couple decades now. Our ribbon rule is… you get to keep the ribbon that adorns any gift your receive. It’s so fun to see how beautiful familiar ribbon gets passed around and around and is used from year to year. 

BTW: don’t take the ribbon from a gift you give unless it is understood you get the ribbon back. LOL! But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Here’s a tip for wrapping gifts in record time. Wrap all your gifts first. THEN embellish each package. I write the initials of the person who gets the gift in the bottom right hand corner of the wrapped gift. Bobby will wrap any gift big or small as long as it is on a rectangle box. Lucky me! 

Then I put all my ribbon and embellishments together and start making little works of art out of each package. Christmas music or a Christmas movie really helps to motive and inspire! So does a great cup of coffee, hot chocolate or festive libation.

Here are some fun things to use on a package besides a bow…

  • bits of real or faux evergreen or boxwood
  • ornaments
  • a trio of tiny Christmas balls fastened together with elastic string.
  • pretty gift tags
  • monograms or initial
  • pinecones
  • lace
  • cookie cutter
  • jingle bells
  • photographs
  • candy canes
  • small boxwood wreaths
  • old Christmas cards

I work on making bows and adding little embellishments and a gift tag to each package. I really love this part of wrapping a package. 

I keep a long piece of twine with my gift wrapping supplies. I use it as a “measurer” of sorts to cut the right wrapping paper and ribbon every time. Here’s how it works…

For wrapping presents…

Put the string around the package. Mark the length by holding the twine between your thumb and index finger.  And then match the length of the twine to a length of the paper. Add 2 inches and cut. You will never have a short piece of paper again!

For bows…

Use the same technique and add enough ribbon to make a bow. Packages come in all sizes and so do the bows that go with them. 

These simple tricks save lots of paper, ribbon, and frustration!

Other things to keep on hand when adding bows and such to a package are…

  • invisible tape
  • double-sided tape
  • glue dots
  • sharp scissors (a must)
  • hot glue gun
  • large curling iron (this takes the wrinkles out of most ribbon that has been used before)

Here’s my very favorite bow. It’s super easy to make and always looks so pretty!

Now click on the arrow and see a video of how I make my favorite easy bow!


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  1. Yvonne,
    Sometimes I feel you can read my mind. Just before I read your blog this morning about how to make boss I was attempting to make one with some pretty red wired ribbon. Definitely needed your video! Have been stuck in the house for4 days since our big snowstorm and getting into a bit of Christmas panic. Need to get to the post office to mail some packages and do some last minute shopping. The snow was very pretty for a couple of days but oh so inconvenient. Kathy

  2. Connie Fowler says:

    Hi Yvonne,

    I love this post! Do you have a formula for figuring out just the right amount of ribbon for your easy bow? Of course no one wants to come up short, or end up wasting ribbon.

    Thanks for all the sharing you do.


    1. Because the size of a box to wrap the bow size will vary too. So I don’t have a measurement that would work every time.

  3. Mariaelena says:

    The bow tutorial is now pinned?, but I must ask where you got the pictures you have hung on the wall in that space. I LOVE them and they’d go perfectly in my home. Love your blog and missing you on the podcast.

    1. Hi Mariaelena, I found these at a local design shop. Sorry! I have no link for you.

  4. Thank you for sharing looks so easy.
    Can I ask where you got your pretty rug?

  5. Susan McCoy says:

    Love your beautiful packages! Thanks for the excellent video on how to make the impressive double bow! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  6. Sharon Mosenkis says:

    Thanks, Yvonne – these tips are fabulous!!! I always learn something new from your blog.

  7. Well..that looked fairly simple. I can tie a double…But my problem is the wired ribbon. Do you do the same thing, or do you have a different technique?

  8. Sharon Ganne says:

    Yvonne, I just love you and your wonderful tips and ideas. Thank you for your inspiration and for making life even more fun for me in my retirement years. May God continue to bless you with happiness. Merry Christmas!


    Sharon >^..^<

    @;— (a rose just for you)

  9. What a great idea to do the double bow! I’m definitely doing this. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thank you Yvonne for this post. Your trick with the string for measuring for paper and ribbon is fabulous because I almost always cut the wrong length of ribbon!! Your method for organizing ribbons is great too. I had to laugh out loud about your comment about not asking for ribbon back from gifts you give. I am GUILTY of this with my family. After years of asking for ribbon back (only if they don’t want it & they usually don’t), now they always ask if I want the ribbon back and I have a nice collection. It’s a bit of a family joke with us. Merry Christmas and God Bless us, everyone!

  11. Love this post. The video is great. I have been using pretty, real ribbon for years now & I notice how my friends and family always save it. Now, with your tips on how to embellish the packages and tie the double bow, I am really looking forward to wrapping gifts! I love your blog, so many good ideas.

  12. Pam Iaquinta says:

    Where Oscar the arrow for the video. I can’t seem to locate it. I’m on an iPad. Thanks!

  13. Do you have a link for the pretty trees on your desk?

  14. Karen VanLoo says:

    Love the tips! I haven’t used those tacky stick-on bows in years. I always use real ribbon. Another thing I like to use is tulle, you can buy that at craft stores, and it is beautiful on packages tied up into a bow like you show in your video. I also use ribbon, and purchase on sale the best quality I can find in the colors I am using for the year. And you’re right, you can re-use ribbon again!

  15. Maggie Nelson says:

    I like very much the video how to make a bow. I like to make bows too and after we open the presents at my sister in law’s house they return the bows to me without asking. The usually use the already made bows so they really enjoy seeing how I wrap the presents and like I add all different things to the bow.

  16. Janet Janzen says:

    Very clever! Very simple! Very cute! Thanks.

  17. Cecilia from Georgia says:

    Yvonne the curling iron tip is the greatest thing EVER! All your packages are just gorgeous and too pretty to open. Thanks for so many useful ideas. Merry Christmas!? XOXO

  18. I have been using your bow ideas for my packages this year. It takes me forever to wrap presents, but they look so beautiful under the tree. They are a work of art!

    1. HI PHYLLIS! I’m so glad you are creating beautiful packages! Merry Christmas!

  19. I have been a total failure at bow-making! My mother always made my bows, but now that she has dementia, it’s up to me, and I can’t do it. That is, until I watched your tutorials! I actually did it!!! Yay! Now my wreaths sport lovely bows, made by me!! Thanks so much, Yvonne! I really consider you my favorite (and only) sister! Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!

  20. linda jensen says:

    Yvonne, Your bows are beautiful, It seems everything you touch is beauty. God has blessed you abundantly. Even though I know your struggles in life are real you inspire and press on Thank you a old gal from N. D.

  21. Anne Baker says:

    My only thought is that I make one adjustment to your technique. I start the bow on the underside of the package so the ribbon is completely flat there. The ribbon is crossed and tied at the top of the package and when the bow is tied and embellished it looks very neat.

  22. I’m so excited for this post! I suck at making pretty bows. And the suggestion for using a curling iron is genus! Thanks and pinned!

  23. I love making bows and you gave me a great new idea plus I love the way you cut the end of your ribbon! Revolutionary for me as I have been doing it the hard way! 🙂

  24. Suzanne Davis says:

    I am a sucker for beautiful ribbon and paper too!
    I was laughing at your comment about the VS boxes.
    One year my 10 year old granddaughter seriously asked what is Victoria’s Secret?

  25. I will make this ribbon, be sure!
    Thanks a lot.

  26. Thanks for the tutorial. Easy and very pretty. That famous Philadelphia department store… Wanamaker’s? Or strawbridge’s??

  27. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Yvonne, your Christmas gifts are wrapped so beautifully! Thanks for the instructions on making that pretty bow! You always give us such great ideas! All our gifts this year will have “real” satin bows! I have lots of pretty ribbon! I’m going to start wrapping our gifts next week. Each one will have “Yvonne’s” pretty bow on it!

    1. You will love how pretty your gifts look with the StoneGable bow. Have fun. I love wrapping gifts. And when we do it early it makes it a joy and not a chore.

  28. I just LOVE this post! Wrapping presents is the cherry on top for my Christmas readiness. Thank you for this tutorial on how to do it beautifully ❤ Just beautiful!

  29. Thank for sharing tiring a Christmas bow. It’s simple but pretty. My favorite is with the satin ribbon. Wrapping presents is one of my favorite things about Christmas. Thank you Jean

  30. Joan Merchant says:

    Can you give directions for making white Poinsettias in your ribbon tray? I love all of your decorating ideas-year round! Thank you so very much!

    1. Hi Joan, the images for the poinsettia are gone. I’ll rework the post for next Christmas. Sorry!

  31. Sue Massey says:

    That is the easiest bow ever!! Thank you for this

  32. Once again your Christmas home tour is amazing. So fresh. I already ordered the two stools from Amazon. I love the new, tall, glass front bookcase at the bottom of the stairs. The way you mix metals is brilliant. I love everything!

  33. Barbara Gomes says:

    This will make my holiday easier and happier. Thank you.

  34. Thanks for the inspiration and the videos. We do one thing to keep the ribbon organized that seems to work well for us. We place rolled up ribbon on paper towel holders. The holders can be purchased inexpensively and look cute sitting around. You can easily see even small amounts of ribbon and you can coordinate the colors. Thanks again for your wonderful website.

    1. Thanks for the brilliant idea, Lisa! I hope more readers tell us their ideas, too! xo

  35. Colleen Rademacher says:

    It’s hard to keep up with your daily blog but I love them all! Can you refresh my memory as to where you sent gift tag ideas to print? Colleen