Thursday, October 29, 2009

fun ideas: fabulous packaging & wrapping!

{hi nicies! these are my fun notes from my Etsy virtual labs workshop today!

enjoy! & please add your own suggestions, links & ideas to the notes! thanks so much!}


beautiful wrapping by Lockette

so yay! the busy handmade holidays are fast approaching!

you’ve sold that beautiful handmade goodie, vintage treasure or supply on Etsy.

now let’s talk fabulous packaging and wrapping!

we’re going to talk about:

branding your beautiful business thru packaging

how to create budget-savvy, often times FREE, eco-friendly packaging and wrapping to wow our customers!

how to make a great 1st impression with your package!


first things first: your packaging will hopefully add continuity to the style of branding you’ve decided on for your shop. i think having a strong vision of what you'd like to forward as your style and brand can go a long way!

let’s talk easy branding.

basically: let’s think of our brand as the emotional connection we’d like folks (our customers) to have with our goodies (handmade & vintage products).

your brand is an idea you'd like to share: our logos, our colours for our shops, business cards, the items we make, in some cases us ourselves as our brand, what we have to say on twitter, facebooks, on our blogs, our packaging, etc. is all part of our branding.

here’s a fun little activity for each of us to do:


what message would you like to communicate with the world about your products?

1. take a pen and paper.(or your computer)

2. take 5 minutes to think about 10 or more things you’d like folks to think of when they think about your handmade items. descriptive words, and jot them down. classic, friendly, luxurious, cutting-edge, you decide! having trouble with this? I’ve seen wise handmakers send out a tweet or message asking collegues to comment on this. I asked folks in a survey to tell me 3 words to describe my asthetic. it was REALLY helpful. my long list of words might be: colourful, eco friendly, retro, modern,

these would be things I either HOPE folks think about my work, or words others have generated for me.

3. then… wittle your list down to 3 KEY words to describe your work and designs.

what i do: i hope mine might be something like: ecofriendly + retro modern + simple, clean lines. (i know that's technically more than 3 words! :)

4. then WORK towards those words.incorporate your 3-key-word vision (branding) into your various media: your shop, your sites, your blog, etc, AND especially your packaging & wrapping.

the way we add our personality to our work and our packaging is great branding. it doesn't need to be a dirty word! :)


I love what etsy admin marymary & julieincharge said in their great Etsy how-to videos on packaging and wrapping… make your package look like a little gift for the receiver…

so let’s chat about how to do that....

let's incorporate our branding ideas into our packaging.

and let's keep in mind: being budget-saavy, eco-friendly, and making them look beautiful!

those 3 ideas ARE NOT mutually exclusive in my books!

we all make wonderful unique beautiful products! let’s make wonderful unique labels & tags, too!

I think adding just a little bit of packaging can turn your item into a beautiful *gift.* luckily more and more folks are being eco-concious about saying no to excessive packaging, and as shop owners and entrepreneurs we can continue to lead the way about this


magazines to use. photo by one pretty thing.


BUDGET-SAAVY, eco-friendly product packaging.

another little activity for you!


first things first!

►► the gathering scavenger hunt!►►

go grab an empty box.

take a little trip around your home, collecting fun stuff that you could reuse as hangtags, little packet toppers, etc. for example today I found: little pieces of scrap card stock, old cards, old playing cards, old magazines, old books, etc. any stronger-weight paper you can find and save from the recycling bin!

you can de-clutter, & find lovely packaging! add to that twine, ribbon, etc. if you don’t have these goodies readily available, thrift shops, bargain bins of fabric & notions & crafts shops will be able to help you out for a wee little bit of money!

what i do: KEEP ALL OF YOUR packaging goodies IN ONE PLACE! this will save you precious time as the busy holiday season descends on us. i earmarked an inexpensive pair of scissors, pens, etc, JUST for my packaging bin. that way it’s always right on hand!

now let’s get busy making our packaging!

ask yourself: how can i pretty up my item, and help make it look professional and gift-giving ready? make it in your own wonderfully personalized way!

if you make an item that could use a

----hang tag----

use the paper products you’ve collected. cut out (our use an inexpensive die-cut) to make a tag. use one of your business cards or make your own tag label. a hole-punch and a piece of lace or string can go a long way to adding that pizazz to your tag! add a blank label to the back if you need to add instructions or info.

tip: if you don't have access to fun-reusable papers, luckily recycled paper is now available almost everywhere. be sure to use it!

----fabric labels----:

some items might require fabric tags.

check out heymichelle’s tutorial on that here.

or try funkyfelter how to make a fabric label tutorial.

craftster label making tutorial.

or make your own or buy a customized stamp. using fabric ink on old ribbon, cord, etc. looks gorgeous! I love how chakrapennywhistle does this! the asthetic fits her beautiful eco forward shop perfectly!

don’t have time or can’t seem to make your own tags or labels?

how about supporting some other handmade etsy artists who can

a) help create a custom branding package for you

b) make you hang tags, labels, etc. that you can either print yourself or have printed.

what i do: early on with my rikrak shop i decided to go with a wordless tag, and so I use rikrak (my name and a real live item) as a functional loop on my item, with a tag. this is my brand! so think of something YOU could use that speaks volumes, perhaps without even using words.


if you have an item that is small, say like jewelry or paper products: you can buy inexpensive little cello bags at a craft shop, or here on etsy. as marymary suggests in her fun video, just add your goodie to the bag, and then fancy it up a bit with a little topper! you can use the supplies you've gathered earlier!

things to be collected and ----wrapped together----

maybe your product needs to be wrapped together: for example: a set of notecards, or my own coaster sets. bands of paper work nicey to tie it all together. a long strip of magazine page, make your own info sheet to print off, that you can add pertinent info to is great!

what i do: I’ve actually decided personally to make my own tags on ecofriendly recycled card stock. I designed these on my computer and then just print off bunches to cut out and make up as needed. this really saves me the expense of having that done elsewhere, so

take an evening and play around with making a simple word document file. put the info folks might need on there … that said, there are 100s of fabulous designers on etsy, so if you feel like your shop brand could use an overhaul, be sure to visit them and get help to make your paper goodies beautiful!

a final note on packaging

what i do: some shops opt to include a beautiful photo of their packaging or gift-wrapping in their item listing. i know that as a buyer, i can sometimes be wooed that little extra bit to woo me! so take a photo of that great, eco-friendly packaging and show it off in your listings!


join the next holiday workshop on etsy for more tips on shipping.. but for now…

now we're ready to send our gorgeous goodies out into the world!

ask yourself:

does the purchase need to wrapped further?

I think it’s a lovely touch to wrap up the item with a little something, keeping in mind we want to be eco-friendly.

*some shops here on etsy also offer GIFT-WRAPPING as a free or paid service.

you might opt to do this for free & tell customers in your shop announcement that they can let you know in notes if they’d like their item gift wrapped for free. you can include a little note from them to the recipient, too!

*or you might also offer gift wrapping as a separate, fee-based service. if that’s your plan, you can create a separate *supply* listing for your gift-wrapping service. be sure to check out Daniellexo’s great Etsy article about how to do that/ tag it properly within etsy guidelines.

*some shops choose to always send their items giftwrapped. i’d suggest thinking about the kind of items you sell, your target audience, and … for example, it may be more likely that jewelry is given as a gift than say Christmas tree ornaments. so keep that in mind as you decide.

you can also post gift-wrapping info in the body of your listings to ensure that folks see it!

whether you're gift wrapping, or just pre-mailing out wrapping let's ask:

----- what can we use to wrap our items? ----

I personally use reclaimed tissue paper.

I have lots of family and friends save me clean tissue paper from gifts and packages, and then I use it to wrap my packages.

but instead you could also use beautiful old paper patterns, old wrapping paper, etc.

or reuse pretty scraps of fabric you might have lying around, or check out these gorgeous japanese fabric wrapping ideas, known as furoshiki, for beautiful wrapping!

check out tanis alexis’ wonderful article on eco friendly wrapping ideas: including furoshiki (fabric wrapping) and using fun empty record covers as flat mailers.

& watch a gorgeous furoshiki how-to video here:

Furoshiki gift wrapping from RecycleNow on Vimeo.

& learn how to make your own recycled paper boxes here.


----what to include in the package you’re sending out!:----

of course, the item(s) you’re shipping!

what else?

i think there is a fun little cycle to successful selling, here’s a little rikrak business tip!:

1st: make a beautiful, quality product.

2nd: take beautiful photos to inspire customers into your shop, and that reflect

3rd : once they’re in your shop, hopefully they will purchase your item.

4th: further your branding and product loveliness by crafting beautiful, eco-friendly, budget-saavy packaging.

5th: ensure that those same folks will come back as repeat customers to your shop, and spread the handmade word (word-of-mouth is certainly the best kind of advertising!) to bring others to you!

so… we’re talking about #4 today, and also, #5!

here’s what i like and I do:

i love getting an extra bonus gift. while this isn’t necessarily necessary, I do think a little something is always sweet. I like to send a little coupon to use in my shop for returning customers that offers a percentage off their next online purchase, a little handwritten thank you note, and a little gift with larger orders.

little somethings: you can make something little and fun to give out: in the past i’ve sent out iron-on fabric patches, little card sets, other little goodies that I’ve handmade as a little thank you gift.

what i do: a fun idea about gifts: team up with a buddy. ask a seller you know and whose work you admire if you can swap items. agree on sending each other x number of small, flat, lightweight handmade items. they can include their business card and you can send it out with your orders. i like to do that for my larger orders, and I think fun folks love receiving a complimentary item (for example: this season I’m sending out gorgeous jewelry by the brilliant tomate depingles and little paper books by the lovely prairie peasant. these are items that compliment, and not compete with, what I’m selling. on this: I’m not personally a HUGE fan of receiving extra business cards. so I would recommend being careful about sending out too much in the way of extras.

thank you notes from the craftpantry

I also send out a handwritten note, addressed by name to my customer, in each package. I use the back of my business card to write this note/ save on paper use/ and that way they’ll have it with them!

check out the wonderful crafterall's fabulous tutorial on how to make lovely business card/coupon holders! wonderful1

I’ve seen other great ideas of making up/ purchasing little thank you cards, etc, to write on! I love a little hand-written note, and I kinda think most handmade purchasers do to! that’s one of the things that differentiates handmade from mass-produced: the human touch!

now your package is ready to send off!

first you need a packet or envelope to ship in:

check out etsy’s great downloadable envelope pattern here that you can use to trace onto any paper to make your own beautiful, eco-friendly envelopes. increase or decrease the size based on your shop needs!

you can make envelopes out of recycled magazine paper, old mailers, bubble mailers, etc.

1st: you can just reuse mailers that have been sent to you. keep a stash of them with your mailing supplies. print off one of the hundreds of cute mailer labels onto paper and glue them on top of your old mailer, or print them off onto sticker sheets.

OR make your own (i’ve made some that go with my shop theme… rikrak!)

:::::::::: DIY mailing labels :::::::::::::

you can find a wonderful variety of FREE downloadable mailing label templates below: most by wonderful Etsy sellers!

cute from the lovely the small object:

beautiful from Oh Smile:

fun from elliphantom knits:

nice and simple from creature comforts:

or make your own!

make it original! your work is!

2nd: make your own mailers!!

here are a bunch of fabulous, easy, budget & eco friendly tutorials to help (thanks to the brilliant team eco-etsy blog for so many of these helpful ideas!)

recycled envelope gift bags tutorial on eco etsy blog

make your own waterproof shipping envelope from reclaimed materials:

more beautiful reclaimed padded mailer envelopes to make here;

make a gift box from a cereal box:

making a cereal box into a beautiful mailer! by laura bucci on team Canada:

* if you’re using recycled materials, you might want to mention that on your packaging. you can print it or get/make a stamp mentioning that your package is reused/ for folks to please reuse/ recycle the packaging. & encourage your customers to reuse your packaging!

3rd: sometimes I run out of mailers to reuse. if you don’t have a chance to make your own right now, be sure to look for new recycled post-consumer paper envelopes and mailers, which a luckily available almost everyone now online and in brick and mortar shops!

what i do: have a packaging party: try to get your tags and such ready ahead of time! take a night off to listen to great music, have a fun old movie playing in the background and make up a bunch of supplies, so you’ll be all ready to get those orders out! even better, have a packaging party where you help a crafty friend and they help you do up some packaging/mailing supplies!

like Julie in charge said: you want to turn your order from a package into a present!



we're almost ready to send it! yay!

if in doubt… experiment!

here's an idea: send yourself 2 separate packages to see how they arrive after going thru the mail! I’ve done this myself and it can be very helpful! better yet – send a little gift to a friend and ask them to let you know how the packaging faired! if you need to, head back to the fun drawing board and try something new!


at first I took quite a bit of time perfecting my tags, to help make them look professional without busting my non-budget!

but, as a great investment, soon, when stores came calling about carrying my items, I was all set!

and we don’t just need to reserve these ideas for packaging our orders! so many of these great ideas would also be super to use in your own personal life, getting ready for holiday gift giving!

last tips:

* tap into your creative self and make the loveliest packaging, on a budget, that you can.

* eco friendly + budget savvy can be wholly beautiful!

* use the golden rule in packaging: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you!

think about what you like in a package and incorporate that into your packaging!

* have fun! a package is a wonderful gift in itself!


there are some of my little tips!

now let's hear yours!

please add links and ideas below!


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  1. Thanks for a great workshop. Lovely ideas! And eco-friendly too! WOW! Just what I like to see.

  2. THANKS!!',!...Still.figuring.out.for.large.purses,though!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I couldn't make it to your workshop so thank you for posting all of this to your blog!

  5. Excellent work hosting and sharing great tips during the workshop this afternoon. All good things!

    I've blogged about how I make my little business card holders (coupon/thank-you note holders) here:

    Thank you, K!

  6. Thanks for a great blog - it's really helpful to have so many good packaging ideas captured clearly in one place. My sister and I make myfuroshiki so would, of course :) highly recommend them as slightly different, eco-friendly wraps. There are some great ones out there to buy, or use recycled fabrics, or a plain fabric overlocked in a bright colour and stamped with your logo / shop name in different colours. Happy wrapping! Mich

  7. Can’t seem to get away from wrapping paper for gift packaging? You can do better than that! Take inspiration from these quick, yet chic packaging ideas for wedding favors and entourage gifts using fabrics and ribbons.

  8. thanks so much, nicies!
    and thanks to everyone who dropped into the workshop! so nice to see you!

    crafterall - great tutorial - i've added it above! thanks!

  9. Thank you for posting all this wonderful information to your blog!

  10. I wasn't able to attend yesterday's lab so I am so glad you posted such detailed notes here. (Were you the class note taker in college???)

    Great tips and ideas.

    I've always struggled with packaging my items in eco friendly ways as I hate seeing items packaged in so much waste. But I wasn't sure how my buyers would see the items packaged with no-frills.

    I use some of your ideas already but I am going to add a little more personal touch so as to "brand" my items without feeling guilty.


  11. These are great notes, even for someone who doesn't sell their work. I will use these for my own gift wrapping! Thanks!

  12. I'm sorry I missed your Etsy workshop! But I'm so glad you've posted all the info here! Thanks for mentioning my cereal box mailer.

  13. Wow! You covered it all. Thank you so much.

  14. Thank you for the informative post! I've always gone with the eco-friendly, no-frills packaging method, but you've given me some ideas on how to "frill" my packaging up and still be eco-friendly!

  15. Great post - so many good tips here!

  16. Thanks so much! You did an amazing job at the workshop and with the notes. After the workshop I ran around and found a stack of cardboard from fat quarters I bought knowing I couldn't just throw them away. Now they're beautiful hang tags and price tags!

  17. Thanks for featuring my recycled padded envelopes :)

  18. Great notes, thanks for sharing all those fabulous ideas.

  19. This is such a comprehensive lesson on packaging! I try to be as less wasteful as possible, so I will incorporate some ideas in my packaging.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  20. I loved reading all the Etsy posts about packaging. It actually made me rethink my packaging and started redesigning it - just in time for some large orders. Here is a link to my blog with all the pictures and tips on how I created them.

  21. Thanks so much for all the great advise. You have my mind spinning with ideas for my shop.

    Thanks again!

  22. Rikrak, I can't believe it took me this long to find your blog. You were one of my first favorites on Etsy - and your posts are fantastic. Thanks for all the great info!

  23. Lots of great ideas here. Love that Furoshiki video. Brilliant!

  24. Wow, that was packed (pun intended) with really great ideas. There are so many great resources out there on Etsy...and right here in my studio. Thanks for getting the creative juices going on this part of the biz :).

  25. Great job, and say WOW. Your ideas and pictures are really nice, especially for Lockette, fabric labels, things to be collected and wrapped together.

    I appreciate your efforts.

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thanks so much for your comments, nicies!
it's a joy to read what everyone writes here.
thank you!