Diana is the winner of our 2016 Holiday Gift Wrapping Contest. If you follow my social media sites, you may have already seen her stunning gift wrapping design. We were really impressed by all the detailed efforts she put into creating the design, from carefully selecting the materials and textures, to creating harmony with all the different design elements.

I was very curious about how Diana got into creative gift wrapping in the first place with her profession being an Anatomical Pathology Technician and where she finds her inspirations. 

Diana incorporates various textures, colors and styles into her gift wrapping

Diana incorporates various textures, colors and styles into her gift wrapping

Q: Reading your story along with the contest design, I strongly felt that you understood what the judges were looking for. Could you tell me your thought process of choosing the particular design to enter the contest?

Diana: I read the Judging Guidelines. The first criterion was Presentation. I knew all along that I had to come up with a gift wrapping entry that looked beautiful. At the same time, I wanted to "present" my entry in such a way that whoever looked at it would see the whole wrapped gift. I planned to take photos of my work from different angles, showing the different parts of the finished product. I had planned to show that I created crisp folds, clean pleats, sharp corners, and that my work in general was clean.

Next was Creativity & Originality. I was thinking that in order for me to get the attention of the judges, I needed to make my work stand out. I figured I had to come up with something more than just a wrapping paper and a bow. I was entering a competition so I had planned to use more than one type of paper, more than one type of ribbon, and incorporate my own style in folding paper flowers.

Then there's the Story Behind the Project. Like I mentioned in my entry, I wrapped the gift for a guy's girlfriend. The guy asked me to wrap it but he was going to give it to his girlfriend. Before working on the project, I had asked the guy to describe his girlfriend to me. What colors does she like? What style does she prefer? Why is he giving her this gift? What's the occasion? I let the guy answer these questions and my plan was to let my wrapping show his answers.

Lastly there's the Use of Materials. After getting the girl's "profile" from the guy, I thought about ways on how to incorporate earth tones and nature theme in a gift that would say "I love you" early on the relationship. I knew I wanted to have a red rose, some browns and greens, and twigs, nets, and other materials that would give my finished product a "raw" look.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your background in arts & crafts activities and how you got into gift wrapping? How has your profession as an Anatomical Pathology Technician influenced your creative process?

Diana: Since I was little, I've always enjoyed arts & crafts. I enjoyed coloring, drawing and painting with different media. I was never really into shopping but whenever my family and I would go to the malls, I would end up in the section where they sell art materials, looking at different crayons, paints, markers, and other crafting tools. While my mom and sister would take forever shopping, my dad and I would just stand there and wait for them as we watch sales associates wrap gifts. I don't remember them doing any fancy gift wrapping but seeing them fold wrapping papers and make bows out of ribbons so fast really fascinated me. I once told my parents that when I grow up, I would like to be a professional gift wrapper.

Working as an Anatomical Pathology Technician requires me to pay great attention to detail. Whose specimen is this? Is this from an adult or child? Male or female? What body part is this from? What am I looking for? Why are we doing a biopsy? In this line of work, I am required to find answers to so many questions. I do the same when I'm wrapping gifts. I see both Pathology and gift wrapping as ways for me to tell a story. I make sure that I tell an accurate story.

Q: What was the most memorable or interesting gift and/or occasion that you have ever wrapped for?

Diana: The 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest in Rockfeller Center, New York City, New York. They had us wrap weird-shaped objects such as gum ball machine, sled, and a child's play set in such short period of time. I never thought I had it in me to wrap gifts in minutes while cameras from different television networks and magazines were recording my work.

Diana wraps a giant gum ball machine at the 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand ( photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Diana wraps a giant gum ball machine at the 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand ( photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Q: What is "gift wrapping" to you and how has it affected your life?

Diana: Gift wrapping is my artistic outlet. My day job can be pretty dark, gory and sad. Often times I deal with specimen from people who are sick, dying, or dead. Gift wrapping lets me celebrate life. Whenever I wrap a gift, I am reminded that someone finds somebody special, and is happy that this person exists. I am just glad to be a part of the celebration. It makes me happy when I find out that the recipient does not want to open the gift in fear of ruining my work. I know of a gift recipient who saves my work and put it in a shadow box.

Her beautiful gift wrapping inspires a recipient to keep the package as a display artwork!

Her beautiful gift wrapping inspires a recipient to keep the package as a display artwork!

Q: What advice would you give to other gift wrappers?

Diana: Never stop learning. Find out how others wrap their gifts. Learn their techniques. Learn what others find "beautiful." Learn other artistic methods such as wet/dry embossing, alcohol inking, stamping, origami, etc and incorporate that in your gift wrapping. Learn your gift recipient's "profile."

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to share that I haven’t asked about?

Diana: I was the First Runner-Up in that 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. I never really planned on joining the contest. I went online to look for a volunteer work as a gift wrapper. I typed in "gift wrapping volunteer work in San Diego" and the Scotch contest showed up on the search list. I decided to submit some photos of my work. I never thought I would be chosen as a finalist, much less make it as a First Runner-Up :)

More about the her winning the contest: 

Diana won the First Runner-Up for 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest and received a lot of media attention. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand ( photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Diana won the First Runner-Up for 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest and received a lot of media attention. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand ( photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Photos provided by Diana Lemos


End of The Year Cleanup with Marie Kondo's "Spark Joy!"


End of The Year Cleanup with Marie Kondo's "Spark Joy!"

Well, here we are at the end of 2016!

In Japan it's a tradition to do a deep house cleaning, to eliminate any accumulated clutter from the past year and tidy up the entire house. I think of myself as more of a minimalist and try to own primarily essential things...well, my studio being an exception. I have more papers, craft materials and tools than anything else in the house, and although it is not difficult for me to let go of other material things, it's sometimes hard to let go of any of my creations and artwork. Evidently they have taken over most of the storage space in my studio.

A friend of mine noticed this habit of mine and gave me a book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It was an eye opening experience to listen to the audiobook and organize my work area. Her method of cleaning is to "spark joy" in which you decide to keep or let go of the things depending on how the items "spark joy" to you or not. Most of us feel bad about throwing or giving away the things we took time to create, people gave us as gifts or that hold memories...even if they don't inspire or excite us anymore. Marie says that these items did their jobs when they came into your life and sparked "joy" at that moment. So your job now is to say "thank you for making me a happy memory" then let that go so that you can welcome new things that will spark joy in your current life.

This idea was particularly inspiring because it's very similar to what gift wrapping is. Gift wrapping is really to be created to deliver special messages to the recipients at the particular moment. Beautifully wrapped packages may not last for a long time but they "spark joy" to the recipients' life in a special event.

I stacked all the gift wrapping packages I created in the past year on my table. (that's how Marie suggests to start your cleaning) Then I mentally said to each and every package "thank you for making me happy and helping others to see what they can do" and let them go.

I hope that you have a successful cleaning and organizing your house and start your new year being surrounded by the items that "spark joy" for you!

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!


Meet the Artists! No.2: Stacie Holt Stepney from Atlanta, USA


Meet the Artists! No.2: Stacie Holt Stepney from Atlanta, USA

Stacie is one of the active members of We ❤️ Wrapping, a Facebook private group with people who are passionate about gift wrapping and paper crafts. Being a mother of three children, she is an inspiring positive person who works hard to make her dreams come true. She has been sharing gift wrapping designs and inspiring others through her creative ideas. 


Stacie Holt Stepney, owner and designer of Designed Moments LLC, specializing in premiere professional gift wrapping services and special occasion decor and design.

Q:    Please tell us a little about your story of becoming a gift wrapping artist.

    Stacie: My story doesn’t have many bells and whistles. Being a single mother of three, I knew I needed a second stream of income. I’ve sold jewelry and owned a desk top publishing company. Neither brought me joy. I decided I needed to find something else that I liked…something I was good at…something I would do for free. One day I saw a gift wrapping company being highlighted on my local news station and thought, “Hey! I bet I can do that!” I’m an avid researcher and studied everything I could on ribbon techniques and styles, various wrapping papers, wrapping designs and was hooked. I found a local course on the basics of gift wrapping and signed up. The instructor complimented my skills. This was humbling since she is an AMAZING and CREATIVE wrapper. I knew then I had found my passion. Since then, I’ve poured my heart, finances and time into augmenting my supply inventory, watching training videos, and learning as much as I possibly could about this field. I opened my business in November of 2015 under the name Wonderfully Wrapped Atlanta. As I progressed and became more skilled, I learned how to create other designs such as memory boxes, centerpieces, diaper cakes. I made a decision to expand my business which required me to change my business name to reflect more of what I do. We are now known as Designed Moments, LLC and are based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Q:    Where do you get your inspiration from when creating your gift wrapping designs? 

    Stacie: I get my inspiration from whom the gift is for…is the gift for someone’s mother? is he a golfer? What are their hobbies? Are they flashy or conservative?

Q:    How does working on creative projects affect your everyday life?

    Stacie: It affects my everyday life consistently because I think about my creative business most of the day, every day. I’m alwayslooking for opportunities to hone my skills. I also look for partnerships to work on creative projects. I typically work in the evening since I have a full time job.

Q: As a gift wrapping artist, What visions and goals do you have for the future?

    Stacie: My main goal for the future for Designed Moments is to have a brick and mortar place for me to wrap if not full time, then part time. I want my customers to come to me to have their gifts designed or wrapped with the opportunity to wait while it’s being done. Currently, I’m creating as much exposure and relationships as I can that would afford me consistent future clients to realize this dream.

Q: Your Diaper Cake Style gift wrapping is so cute! How can one order the design and what is the price?

    Stacie: Diaper cakes range from one to three tiers. All are custom designed according to the mother’s or purchaser’s wishes. Quality materials including stuffed animals, baby blankets, shoes, etc are used. Prices range from $30-$65. Diapers and baby trinkets are safe to be used.

Designed Moments, LLC~ We honor special occasions by designing memorable moments ~


7 Tips To Have Fun with Holiday Gift Wrapping


7 Tips To Have Fun with Holiday Gift Wrapping

Every year, holiday gift wrapping is an exciting fun event for me. I prepare wrapping designs and all the materials with sparkling & dazzling colors, line up my tools beside the work station, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and play some of my favorite holiday music.

During the design and wrapping process, I think about the receivers and their smiles when receiving gifts. I designed the packages based on the receivers' personalities, styles, their interests, naturally no packages end up exactly the same. 

For many people we wrap more gifts during the holiday season than any other time of year. Therefore, you want to be well-prepared in order to move the project forward smoothly. I often hear people say that "I hate holiday gift wrapping" or "it is too much work to wrap holiday gifts." I used to become frustrated during my holiday gift wrapping also. The lack of preparation combined with a sense of urgency often caused to block a flow of my creativity. I took way too much time to wrap gifts and felt exhausted by the end of the project. What could have been fun and joyous become a chore and annoying just because of missing this important step.

So today, I wanted to share some tips and tricks for making your holiday gift wrapping more enjoyable than ever. 

  1. Make sure you have a large enough space to wrap all your gifts.  This helps you wrap any size gifts without difficulties and prevents wrapping paper from tearing and wrinkling.
  2. Sharp scissors are must for creating neat presentations. The last thing you want for your completed packages is to have rough edges of paper and frayed ribbon. Good tools accelerate the speed and efficiently of your work.
  3. Prepare two types of tape - clear tape and double sided tape. Using these tapes for different purposes help you work efficiently and smoothly. If you watch my tutorial videos on YouTube, you can see how I distinguish them to secure/close different sections. The goal is to not show any tape on a completed package unless you are incorporating it into part of your design.
  4. Have an overall design concept and prepare necessary materials and tools before starting the projects. This way, you can focus on creative productions without being bothered to look for missing materials or tools. Keeping a good work flow, maintaining positive energy, is important to make the best out of the creative process.
  5. Keep a trash bin or bag next to you. Though this seems obvious, I've noticed many people actually forget about preparing this important equipment. Some people might say it's easier to throw everything on the floor and clean at the end. Believe me; working in a clean environment makes you feel good! You clean as you gift wrap so that you won't have a messy situation like being surrounded by scraps of paper, ribbon and tape... Work clean and work happy is a motto!
  6. Pay attention to other elements - like sounds and scents. Play your favorite music. As I mentioned in the beginning, holiday gift wrapping is like an exciting fun event. Music will brighten your mood. We usually perform better when we are having fun. Holiday gift wrapping shouldn't be a task but something to enjoy! Have aroma oils, candles, cookies or cakes baking in an oven, brew coffee or tea, anything that helps to create a desired ambience.
  7. Lastly and the most important of all.... ENJOY IT, HAVE FUN! I say this loudly and clearly. Why? Because it can be. Cutting, tearing and folding paper can be a great stress reliever! Gift Wrapping is a very tactile experience, appreciate different textures of papers and ribbons, adding the final little details to create a beautiful gift. And remember why you go the extra mile to wrap your gifts in the first place. You should enjoy the act of kindness!

What do you think? Are you ready for wrapping your holiday gifts? Have a cup of tea, play your favorite music and have a great time gift wrapping!


Alberto Cozzi - Italian Marbleized Paper Making


Alberto Cozzi - Italian Marbleized Paper Making

I love traveling because it always opens my mind and provides design inspirations and educational experiences that enhance things learned from schools or books.

I'm currently working on the holiday design projects and I desperately wanted some cultural inspiration. I live in Hawaii where it is an absolutely beautiful place - but it is also one of the most remote places and I feel that it's important to get out and see the world from time to time, especially to gain new artistic inspirations from other cultures.

This time I was especially looking forward to visiting the paper store Ablerto Cozzi in Firenze (Florence, Italy), whose Italian marbleized paper making history goes back 4 generations.

Upon entering the quaint store, the owner Riccardo Luci welcomed us with a big smile on his face, "Konnichiwa!" ("Hello" in Japanese) Apparently his store is well-known in Japan and he gets many Japanese visitors.

The store had various kinds of leather bound books and stationery items displayed on the shelves along with amazing selections of marbleized papers. At this point, I felt like a kid in a candy store, dazzled by the colors and designs of the beautiful handmade papers! (not to mention these marbleized papers were painted in candy-like colorful colors!) 

Riccardo showed us a few styles of marbleized papers he created, explaining how its design concept originally came to Italy from Turkey and his great grandfather studied the paper designing techniques and started his own workshop and store over 100 years ago.

He then led us to his workshop station and provided a demonstration of creating marbleizing paper from scratch. Water with a special mixture of chemicals (his family secret) filled a shallow metal container and Riccardo started splashing various colors of oil-based ink onto the surface of the water.

The drops of ink started forming beautiful shapes and patterns. After multiple colors are splashed, he used a small stick to stir the water back and forth from right to left, creating a wavy design.

Riccardo then took a wooden stick with nails placed across it in equal distances and slid it from one end to the other, followed by another wooden stick with nails farther apart to create peacock's feather like patterns.

I love to watching artisans create their artwork. Skilled and experienced artisans move their fingers and bodies effortlessly; it's like they don't have to think about each process but their bodies remember what exactly the next movement is.

A large solid color paper, the same size as the metal container was placed over the water and slid to one end....the whole ink pattern over the surface of the water was gone! It was transferred onto the paper beautifully. If the time had been in a different era Riccardo's profession might have been as a wizard or magician.

I purchased a few items including a pack of origami sized marbleized papers and a leather passport case with my name custom imprinted. While waiting for Riccardo to prepare the gold leaf press for my passport case, I overheard one customer saying, "I retired from my teaching job and moved to Florence a year ago to study and enjoy the art and culture of this city." I imagined myself living in Florence as an apprentice making marbleized papers....

Watch the action :D


Meet the Artists! No.1: Sneha Patil from Mumbai, India


Meet the Artists! No.1: Sneha Patil from Mumbai, India

I recently started an online social media group We❤️Wrapping! for people interested in gift wrapping and paper crafts. I had one thing in mind to start this group, to share ideas, information, and stories to grow together as gift wrapping and paper artists.

Thanks to our members, it's been really fun and helpful to share design ideas, information on materials & tools and each other's stories.

When I first started my career as a gift wrapping artist in New York City, I had a hard time finding relevant information. Gift Wrapping, although a popular topic during the holiday seasons, was still a relatively smaller category compared with other forms of arts and crafts. I didn't know many people around me who had the same profession or had the same level of passion about gift wrapping.

So it's such a blessing today to be connected with people around the world who are also passionate about learning and sharing new techniques and skills in creating memorable gift wrapping designs.

One such person I've had the pleasure of meeting is Sneha Patil. From Mumbai, India she has a strong passion for gift wrapping and paper arts. Last year she sent several requests for private workshops for training in basic gift wrapping techniques and one day I was finally able to schedule a trip. We had 5 day training workshops each about 5-8 hours a day and she never complained about the long training hours or any difficulty in learning advanced techniques. We talked about her plans to become a gift wrapping artist in Mumbai and she started getting clients. Sneha has continued to practice and develop on hew own as well as taking my online lessons during this time. Today she is conducting corporate gift wrapping workshops for large gift stores in India.

Sneha shared her story with me and I hope it will inspire you as you go on your own journey to become a gift wrapping and paper artist.

  • How did you get interested in gift wrapping?

(Sneha) I have always been following various paper artists around the world on social media and 3 years ago I found Shiho's YouTube channel, Paper Guru, and started following her. As I tried her instructions and created my own gift wrapping designs, I was deeply interested in learning more techniques and skills.

  • How do you get inspiration for creative ideas?

(Sneha) Nature and found objects in daily life have been huge source of inspiration for me. I receive inspirations from things like snail's amazing swirls to the beautiful colors and patterns of the Indian fabrics.

  • What is the best part of learning gift wrapping?

(Sneha) Learning more about the gift wrapping elevated the idea of gift giving. I believe that gift wrapping is equally important as the actual gift itself. A simple flower bouquet can become an amazing present just by adding a beautiful gift wrapping presentation. We are simply making gifts even more special by creating memorable presentations.

  • What was the hardest thing while learning gift wrapping techniques?

(Sneha) The most difficult thing was to wrap large or over-sized boxes. I'm still learning to acquire these techniques.

  • How does taking the online lessons and workshops help you achieve your goals?

(Sneha) With online lessons, I can learn many of the basic and advanced techniques in simplified, condensed and easy ways and it helps me to brush up on my skills. Taking actual workshops was great since I can watch Shiho's demonstrations in front of me and instantly get answers to my questions. It did help me to perfect my ribbon techniques after going over bow creating lessons many times with her.

  • What is your goal?

(Sneha) I would like to work as a gift wrapping artist in Mumbai and continue getting more clients. Currently I am preparing workshops for large gift stores in India and planning to have more workshops for individuals as well as corporations in future.

Below is the contact information for Sneha's gift wrapping services in Mumbai, India: / Phone:00919890834124 

✽ For more information about my online courses, please visit here: Shiho Style & Design Gift Wrapping Courses

✽ Come join our gift wrapping & paper craft community, We ❤️ Wrapping!