Last-Minute Gift Wrapping with Creative Wiz Lotta Nieminen

Great-looking gift wrap doesn’t have to be a chore. We tapped one of our favorite creatives—the crazy-talented graphic designer/art director/illustrator Lotta Nieminen—to show us how to create clever, customizable wrappings out of the simplest already-in-your-closet supplies. “I love collecting paper and ribbons in different colors,” she says. “Then I mix and match them based on the gift and the person receiving it.” The result? Packaging so beautiful, no one will ever guess you did it at the last minute.


Problem: You Need a Red-Ribbon Alternative

Solution: Use artfully tied twine or ribbon to create a patterned effect on plain paper (bonus: this is the perfect way to repurpose all those paper bags you’ve stashed under the sink—just flip them over to hide any logos). Nieminen created a charming crisscross design (above, right) using our favorite Knot and Bow™ baker’s twine. We love the way she doubled up strands for extra texture.

Problem: You’ve Run Out of Paper

Solution: Layer leftover swatches of paper together for a colorful collage. For her Madewell project, Nieminen contrasted tiles of bright tissue with an unexpected accent of hammered copper (above, center). No worries if you don’t have a little stash of scrap metal handy: “Paper stocks of different textures create a similar effect,” says Nieminen.

Problem: Your Present, Uh, Isn’t the Best

Solution: Compensate for a less-than-perfect gift with blow-them-away-crafty wrapping. The Finnish designer cuts out playful figures (above, left) from regular copy paper (the thin paper is easier to handle than thicker stock) and colors them with marker.  Paste down your own artistic efforts using Lotta’s favorite UHU Stic glue. “I’m always covered in glue and bits of paper by the time I’m done,” says Nieminen. “But that’s part of the fun!”

Need something to wrap? Shop our gift guide here.

Perfect Gifts For Picky Friends

For a fun lead-up to Christmas, we like to put our own spin on the tradition of Secret Santa: Instead of shopping for a secret someone, a mix of stylish pals shop from our Gift Well Guide and exchange presents only true friends would know to pick. To kick things off this year, we started with friends here at Madewell. Let the (virtual) unwrapping begin.


Says Alex: “Who doesn’t want a cool tee to rep her hometown? This Linen Los Angeles Tee is perfect for Jen.”


Says Jen: “Alex is the most prepared person I know. She’s the one who introduced me to the Tide To Go stick, and now I get to return the favor by gifting her the Minimergency Kit.”


Says Beth: “Michelle can wear heeled booties like they were sneaks, and the Billie Boot is the perfect height to pair with boyfriend jeans or a dress.”


Says Michelle: “Beth always visits her family in Ohio for Christmas. Our Transport Tote is the perfect carry-on for her.”


Says Dana: “Susan is in New York—downtown in Soho, to be exact—so she definitely needs this Funnelneck Sweater. Baby, it’s cold outside!”


Says Susan: “Dana, one of the best ladies I know, loves going on hikes with her two adorable pups. I’ll be giving her our Perfectly Shrunken Stripe Scarf so she can keep warm. Yes, it does get chilly in LA!”

Make your own wishlist here.