Any designer knows that a product's packaging is as important for attracting customers as what's inside. That idea that can also be applied to gift wrapping: Yes, the stakes are lower—people don't necessarily need extra incentive to open a gift that has been given to them—but the sentiment is largely the same. If you're going to buy a beautiful designer-made gift for someone, it only makes sense that the outer package reflect the level of care and precision that went into picking out the gift within.
Nice wrapping paper is also handy for dressing up the smaller gifts on your list, making a present for a neighbor or a corporate holiday party all the more special. It looks great under the tree, and it's easier to save and recycle than the cheaper, thinner rolls that rip easily. Honestly, some of these wrapping paper sheets looks nice enough to frame.
You can find the good stuff at stationary stores, print shops, and online marketplaces like Etsy and Of A Kind, but we've also rounded up the best ones below. And while nicer paper will cost you more than your typical Target or Hallmark Store fare, the gift wrap on this list is still affordable—and you can feel better about supporting small businesses.
For The Mid-Century Modernist
Can't afford Herman Miller or Knoll, but want to appeal to your mid-century modern-loving friends, nonetheless? Here's a handsome homage to the beloved style at a considerably cheaper price point ($14 for 12 sheets). Buy it on Etsy from Norman's Printery, the New Jersey-based purveyors of a ton of truly beautiful wrapping paper (see it all here).
A Pattern That's Out Of This World
One more from Norman's Printery, then we'll leave you to browse through the offerings on your own. This Galaxy Wallpaper is too good not to mention—perfect for the outer space-obsessed kids on your list, or the adult who has seen both versions of Cosmos (Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson). $14 for 12 sheets
An Ultra-Luxe White Marble
White marble wrapping paper will undoubtedly give whatever you gift a bit of decadence. This one is available from San Francisco-based paper goods shop Ferme a Papier. $11.50 for three sheets.
Make your present a work of art with this lovely Impressionist wrapping paper. These brushstroke-splashed rolls are handcrafted by Hillaree Hamblin, Stephanie Hamblin, and Elizabeth Meeks, the three women behind the design shop Birch & Goldberry. Priced at $16, and found here.
A Trippy Geometric Tile
Give the gift of beautiful geometry with M.C. Escher-esque gift wrap. Handmade by Chicago-based artist and illustrator Amy Heitman and sold on Etsy, this gift wrap is $4.50 a sheet.
Black & Silver & Minimalist
For the color-adverse, here's a black-and-silver role with a simple triangular pattern. It's screen-printed by hand by the Brighton-based artist Laura Danby, and available from her Etsy shop for $3.25 a sheet.
A Better Option Than Newsprint
The paper shop Knot & Bow paired up with Toronto-based designer and illustrator Sandi Falconer for this lovely zigzag print with a subtle orange and yellow gradient. The description on the site calls it a nod to the cost-saving maneuver of wrapping your gift in newsprint; presumably the zigzags allude to the exclamation ("Pow!" and "Wham!") in comics, with much more pared-down sophistication. Buy it here. $6 for three sheets.
Brown Paper And Twine With A Twist
When in a bind, wrapping presents in brown butcher paper and tying it up with a nice piece of twine has always been an easy, cheap, and failsafe option—and honestly, it always looks great. Keep this roll of floral tape from the Japanese company MT masking tape (available here through Of A Kind) on hand to add a little flourish. This is a tape you won't want to hide in the creases and folds, and it comes to an affordable $6 a roll.