Tater wrap

DIY wrapping paper is as easy as one potato, two potato, three

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You’ve checked your list and bought the gifts. Now comes the fun part: wrapping them all.

While wrapping paper can be bought easily at any store, making your own can be twice as rewarding at a fraction of the price. It can also be a great way to keep kids occupied on colder days. (Just remember to supervise them and that you may need to make the stamps for them.)

Regular stamping supplies can be expensive, but a bag of potatoes and some paper is relatively cheap.

To make potato-stamped wrapping paper, you first need... some potatoes.
To make potato-stamped wrapping paper, you first need... some potatoes.

What you need

Potatoes
Water-based paint
A kitchen knife
A paring knife (or X-Acto knife)
Paper large enough to wrap your gift

Directions:

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise.
Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise.

Cut a potato in half

Cut in half with a kitchen knife; which way you choose depends on your size and design. Generally, cutting them lengthwise works best if your potato is thick enough.

Draw the image you want to stamp on your potato.
Draw the image you want to stamp on your potato.

Draw a shape

Use a pencil or marker to draw the desired shape onto the surface of the potato. Be creative, yet simple with your drawing. The more complicated the drawing, the more likely you’ll have problems cutting your design out. Stars, lines and plain geometric shapes can be made fancy with a bit of texture.

Get your tools: a paring knife or X-Acto knife. And, of course, your potato.
Get your tools: a paring knife or X-Acto knife. And, of course, your potato.

Cut your design

Trim around your drawn shape with a paring knife or an X-Acto knife, leaving the design raised on the surface of the potato.

Bonus: Using a serrated knife will give a textured surface. Use a fork or skewer to make tiny holes in the potato for added design interest.

Add paint

Pour some paint on a small plate and dab the potato in it lightly. The goal is to evenly coat the surface while not over-saturating it.

Stamp it

Do a few test stamps on scrap paper to get an idea of how much paint is too much on your stamp. If there is too much paint, it will slip or create a blotchy image. You might find that stamping once on scrap paper, then using your potato on your real paper makes it easier.

You should be able to use the stamp several times before needing to dip it in paint again. The potato can be rinsed after use and used again with another color.

Let dry

Let the paint dry completely before decorating or finishing the design.

The finished product—a potato stamped masterpiece.
The finished product—a potato stamped masterpiece.

Bonus Tips

Newspapers can be a fun print to use and decorate. Try pulling pages from an old River Reporter and stamping over them.

Sprinkling a small amount of glitter on top of the drying paint can make a design pop. Remember though, the excess glitter will need to be shaken free from the paper.

Simple shapes can be decorated when the paint is dry by using markers or by painting decorations on top of the stamped area. A square  stamp could be turned into a gift with just a few lines of paint to make a ribbon. A circle could be an ornament with just a hook added to the top.

Reverse stamp: Use a small cutter to make a shape in the potato. You’ll get the potato shape with the paint and the design will be a negative. Cookie cutters, apple corers, pumpkin carving tools and other utensils can be used to make a shape in the potato.

Don’t limit yourself to potatoes. Pumpkin pieces, carrots, and apples are great stamp-making material.

This technique can be used for more than just holiday presents. You can make custom cards, birthday paper, or even stamp a wall.

If you don’t get your stamping all done the first day, rinse the potato clean, add a wet paper towel and put it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. The potato should be good for another day or two.

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