Part I of the Holiday Gift Tags Tutorial was all about the retro, so we’re going to switch it up a bit here! In the two tutorials featured in this blog post, you’ll channel your inner earth god(dess) to make nature-inspired tags that are sure to impress and awe. Fair warning: you’ll probably find yourself…
While the DIY Holiday Gift Tags Tutorial (Part I) was inspired by retro design motifs, nature serves as the muse for these Part II gift tag tutorials! Today, you’ll learn how to use a simple twig to label your gift in style; and then you’ll learn how to make a very quick fir branch illustration to add a festive feel to any package. More than likely, both tutorials utilize items you already have at home … well, with the exception of the twig, which you’ll probably need to hunt outdoors for!
1. Twig “Gift Tags”
Any present featuring this “gift tag” twig will truly stand out because of its creativity and utilization of natural elements! To make it, go outside and find a little twig with 3-5 knobs/tiny branches sticking out of it. The branch I found measures around 4″ (~102 mm) and is pictured below:
Set your twig aside, and get out a piece of watercolor paper. Use several different colors of green watercolor paint to make broad strokes on the front of your paper.
Then, flip over the paper and paint on the back as well.
Wait for your paint to dry, then count the number of knobs/little branches on your twig: this will tell you how many leaves you need to make. You can see that my twig has four knobs, which I have enumerated in the photo below. (Of course, you do not need to make numbers like these as you are creating your twig gift tag; they’re just there so you can see the four knobs on my twig.)
Use a pencil to free-hand draw leaves for your twig. The number of leaves you will draw depends on how many knobs you counted on your twig; since I have four knobs, I am making four leaves. You’ll want to make sure you draw stems because they play a big part in affixing the leaves to the twig!
Cut your leaves out on the pencil guidelines.
Separate one leaf from the rest and write your recipient’s name on it. Since my recipient’s name is short (“Mom”), I was able to use Janet Style calligraphy on my leaf. However, a longer name may require writing in a small Sans Serif hand-lettering style … or making bigger leaves.
While your calligraphy ink is drying, find some string or wire. You will need it to tie the leaves to the knobs on the twig. I already have string laying around for the purpose of mending this-or-that, but you can use anything you want: ribbon, floral wire, whatever!
Use your string to tie the leaves to the knobs. If your string is thin like mine, you’ll want to wrap it around the stem of the leaf/the knob on the twig several times.
Once the leaf is secure, tie a double or triple knot and cut off the excess string.
Continue to wrap string around the stems of the leaves and the knobs of the twig until all of the leaves are secure. You can put the calligraphed leaf wherever you want; I randomly chose to put mine on the second knob of the twig.
Tuck the twig under ribbon on a gift, and prepare for one very delighted gift recipient!
I love these twig-inspired holiday gift tags because I’ve never really seen anything like them. They are creative and delightfully uncommon … in short, they’re sure to make an impression! There are a lot of ways you could modify them, including cutting out different shapes of leaves (e.g. maple) or using green card stock instead of watercolor paper. Feel free to tweak your own process as the inspiration strikes!
2. Fir Branch Gift Tags
Despite its intricate appearance, the fir branch illustration on this gift tag is quick and straightforward to create! You’ll begin by drawing a series of lines like the ones pictured below on a rectangle of watercolor paper or card stock that has been cut to about 2.5″ (~64 mm) wide by 3″ (~76 mm) long. (I drew the lines by making a long, diagonal, upside-down “Y”, then I added random little lines to the body of the “Y”.)
Go over your pencil lines with a dip pen (or crow quill, as I’m using here) and waterproof ink. Alternatively, you can use a waterproof pen such as Micron.
Once your ink is dry, use a medium-sized brush to go over each line with a stroke of watercolor. You can use any color you want; I like Greenleaf & Blueberry’s Celadonite because it’s grainy and has a beautiful, earthy tone.
Wait until your watercolor is completely dry, then use a very fine-tipped pen (or a crow quill) to draw small needles coming off of each branch as shown below.
Your result will look something like this:
At this point, you can cut your gift tag to a smaller size, then add calligraphy to the bottom. I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy and walnut ink, which goes very well with the subtle green watercolor in the fir branch.
You can run a string through the top and tie the tag to a gift sack …
Or you can thread some ribbon through the tag to incorporate it into a gift package.
The fir branch holiday gift tag is an uninvolved, no-fuss project. I must warn you, though, that once you make one of these fir branches, you’ll want to make more and more of them! I love how they look so beautiful, yet take so little time and concentration to create. You don’t have to relegate yourself to painting them on gift tags; fir branch illustrations enhance everything from bookmarks to mail art to holiday greeting cards!
I hope that you were inspired by part II of the holiday gift tags tutorial! If you try out any of these projects, I’d love to see the results on Facebook or Instagram. I spotted a couple of projects from Part I on social media with a few creative tweaks that were absolutely amazing; that was so cool to observe! 🙂
If you’re in the US, have a happy Thanksgiving on Thursday!