Introduction: Make Your Own Gift Tags

Every Christmas here in San Francisco, I inevitably find myself at "Flax" (a local art supplies store), either looking for gifts for friends and family, or more likely looking for gift-wrapping ideas. In December of 2010 I purchased some very nice gift tags there. When I returned a week or two later for more, they were sold out. So I decided to make my own.

Essential Supplies:
Blank Card Stock
Patterned Card Stock (or print your own)
Double-Sided Carpet Tape
Gold Thread (or other decorative string or ribbon)

Optional Supplies:
White Label Stock (full sheets or otherwise)
Gold Label Stock (full sheets or otherwise)

Essential Tools
Cutting Board
X-Acto Knife
Metal Edged Ruler
Paper Punch (small diameter preferred)
Soft Eraser (preferably the rubbery white ones draftsmen use. Synthetic wine corks make a reasonable substitute.)

Useful Tools:
Color Printer

Optional Tools:
"U" shaped leather punch.

Step 1: Make a Patterned Piece

Start with an 8 1/2" x 11'' sheet of blank card-stock and a 2" x 2" piece of patterned card stock, this is one I purchased from "Flax", but you can also easily make our own patterned card stock from blank card stock using an ink-jet printer. This one from "Flax" has a peel-off adhesive backing. Make your own with double-sided tape, preferably double-side carpet tape if you can find it, it is much stronger than the others.

Step 2: Attach the Patterned Piece to the Card Stock

Adhere the 2" x 2" patterned design to the upper left corner of the 8 1/2" x 11" blank card stock.

Step 3: Trim the Gift Tag From the Card Stock

Here I'm making a 1 3/4" wide gift tag. Before I cut, using a ruler, I create a faint pencil line across the card stock 1 3/4" from the top. This guide line will make it much easier to make a straight cut. Using the ruler and following the guide line I trim off the topmost 1 3/4" inches of the 8 1/2" x 11" card stock with my X-Acto knife.

Step 4: Making the Tab

Now I'll create the tab that will hold down the message strip. I happened to own a leather punch which was perfect for this project. Centering the punch 1 inch down from the top of the strip, I stamped a 5/8" inch wide by 5/8" long "U" shaped cut through the card stock, creating a tab to hold down the other end of the folded gift tag.

While, the leather punch makes a nice clean cut*, you don't need a punch to make this tab, and I suggest using your X-Acto knife instead. All we're doing here is creating a tab.

I've experimented with numerous shapes, widths, and lengths for this tab. What seems to be most important is the length of the tab. Rounded-end tabs are elegant, A rounded-end tab should be a "U" shaped tab that is at least as long as the tab is wide. I suggest somewhere between 5/8" and 3/4" inch wide tab for a 1 3/4" wide tag. Semi-circles do not work well.

Since you're not using a punch, use anything handy to create a tab outline with a light pencil. For reference a Dime is just about 11/16" wide (just slightly larger than 5/8"). A Penny is approximately 3/4" in diameter. Use a straight edge to complete the left and right sides of the "U" shape outline, and use your X-Acto knife to cut through the outline.

* You can purchase this same punch for about approximately $40 from Outfitter Supplies ( It's a 5/8" Osborne Round Strap End Punch.

Step 5: Folding the Tag

Now I fold over the blank end of the tag so that it fits securely under the tab. There a few ways to do this. One is by measurement as you see here, but what's most important is that the folded over portion be at least long enough to fit snugly under the tab. If the folded over portion is too long, it can always be trimmed.

In the third photo, you see the finished product. It demonstrates how the tab works, but there are still a couple of intermediary steps before I get here.

Step 6: Attaching the Ribbon or Thread

Now we need an elegant way to attach the tag to the gift. I used a variable-sized leather punch I had to create a small (3/16") hole near the end of the gift tag.

Feel free to use any kind of punch. In fact, paper punches work better than the leather punch I used. Smaller holes than the standard paper punch size are more elegant, but any paper punch will make a really nice hole. The standard paper punch hole works nicely for ribbon attachments.

Thread your tie through the hole. I used gold thread, but string, and ribbon also work well. For a more "natural" you might consider raffia.

Step 7: Attaching the Gift Tag

The most common way to attach a gift tag is cellophane tape. An adhesive backed bow is another. There's nothing wrong with either. In the image I've attached you'll find some more creative options.

With a color printer I printed random designs on adhesive backed white paper, and used cutouts to attach my gift tags. I also used adhesive backed gold foil to attach some of the tags.