A variety of gift wrapping alternatives are available this season that can turn a holiday chore into a creative adventure, limited only by your imagination.

"Today, gift wrapping has become sort of an art," said Adrian Long, vice president of Pier 1 Imports. "It is a way to create a feeling or mood under the Christmas tree.

"Being creative and using your imagination with wrappings and containers is the best way to create a highly personal and individualistic gift with a sense of style."

Gifts are most often wrapped in a standard box but some alternatives do exist:

_ Gift bags have emerged in recent years as a popular and fun way to wrap gifts. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate almost any gift. Accent the bag with contrasting tissue paper in coordinating or contrasting colors and tie with brightly colored bows and ribbons.

_ Make the gift wrap part of the gift itself. For example, fill a wicker basket with bath accessories and decorate with a colorful ribbon. Or fill unusually shaped jars and glass containers with candy, potpourri or other small items. Putting small gifts inside a colorful tin is another idea.

To make Christmas packages even more special for children, consider the following:

_ Wrap a gift in white paper. Purchase a stamp with the child's name or nickname, along with stamp pads in different colored inks. Stamp the name in different colors all over the package.

_ Use colorful shoelaces instead of bows. Arrange laces in a bow shape, knot as usual and secure with a "Bow Biter" shoe fashion accessory, which "bites" the knot and keeps laces tied all day. Laces and "Bow Biters," available in six characters, make the wrapping a gift in itself.

_ Cut glossy photos of popular rock stars, movie actors or sports heroes and use as wrapping paper. For larger gifts, a poster of your youngster's current idol will do nicely. Younger children will enjoy packages wrapped in illustrations of their favorite cartoon characters.

_ For an educational touch, wrap a gift inside a map.