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Ellen Mcdermott
Dress up your holiday gifts with bows, bows and more bows.

When a thoughtfully chosen gift is wrapped with equal thought and care, it feels all the more special to the person who receives it. Here are some innovative ways to package items big and small for everyone on your gift list.

Bows all over

When it comes to these dainty decorations, more is more. Instead of embellishing packages with a lone bow, tie on several, and experiment with different styles. Seam binding, which is both attractive and inexpensive, is perfect for the task; buy it by the roll at notions stores. Establish a palette for bows and paper, and the bundles will look even more tied together.

Doily decorations

The lacy patterns on paper doilies conjure images of snowflakes, making these decorations a natural choice for decorating holiday gifts. If you like, snip around the doily's edges to create realistic, pointed patterns. Thread the paper with ribbon and then tie one or several doilies to wrapped boxes.

Kitchenware tins

Homemade confections are twice as nice when offered in pudding molds, loaf pans and other culinary containers. You can find a variety of types and sizes at kitchen-supply stores. Long after the delicious contents have been devoured, the equipment will still prove useful in the kitchen.

Revitalized ribbon

With a few snips of your scissors, you can transform basic self-adhesive bows into sumptuous blooms. For each "flower," cut the loops of one small bow and one large bow at an angle. Then affix the smaller bow to the empty center of the large bow. Coil a short length of matching ribbon; place coil in the center of the small bow and secure with double-sided tape. Showcase a single bloom, or pair with more matching ribbon.

Jingle bells

What could be more appropriate for decorating a Christmas parcel than a bell that recalls the sound of Santa's sleigh? Purchase the bells at crafts stores and use lengths of thin ribbon or cord to secure to packages.

Tasteful tags

Gift tags are even sweeter when they happen to be crisp cookies. To make them, cut gingerbread dough into shapes or letters, punch with a small hole for threading with cord, and bake. The cookies can be eaten while the unwrapping takes place or hung on a tree as ornaments.

Quick jar covers

Top jars of homemade chutney, fruit sauce or preserves with cupcake liners, available in many colors and patterns at grocery and party stores. The paper liners resemble old-fashioned fabric jar covers. Invert a liner (or two, for stronger color), and secure around jar with a rubber band. Tie with ribbon, then remove the rubber band.

Vintage linens

Wrap goods in vintage napkins, handkerchiefs or other linens graced with cheerful patterns, and the packaging itself will serve as an added gift. Look for linens at flea markets or online. Fabrics are particularly helpful when wrapping items whose shapes don't lend themselves to paper. The rest is a cinch: Gather fabric around the item, and tie with a ribbon.

Photo gift toppers

Any gift will feel more inviting when it's decorated with a familiar face (or many of them). You can use the photos to identify the giver or the getter or attach one favorite photo to all your presents. Print or copy the photo onto heavyweight paper. Then wrap the package with paper and a wide band of ribbon. Using double-sided tape, secure photo to ribbon.

Decorated gift bags

Spruce up inexpensive paper sacks with small trinkets such as buttons, sprigs of holly or candy canes. Start by folding down the top of the bag twice. Thread two buttons with waxed twine. Glue one to the folded portion of the bag and the other several inches below it; wrap excess thread around buttons to secure. Or punch two holes side by side through the folded portion; thread with a rubber band from the back, and use ends to secure decorative items.

Bottle cover

A tissue-paper pom-pom is a suitably festive topper for a bottle of champagne or other holiday wine. Lay a bottle on one side of five sheets of tissue paper, leaving about five inches of space at top and two inches at bottom (trim bottom if necessary). Secure tissue to middle of bottle with double-sided tape; roll the bottle to cover, and tape. Cut a few notches in tissue at bottom to create flaps, and tape flat to bottom of bottle. Tie a cord at neck. Cut paper into strips above cord to form a pom-pom. Tie a ribbon with a tag around the neck.

Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. Questions may also be sent by e-mail to: mslletters@marthastewart.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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