DIY Holiday Gift Tags Tutorial

This one's for my fellow paper nerds who love pretty wrapping almost as much as they love the present! Typically, when I wrap gifts I stick to a neutral kraft brown or white wrapping paper and add colorful accessories (gift tags, stamps, baker's twine, ribbons), or I use patterned paper with black baker's twine and simple kraft gift tags. Like everything in life, it's alllll about balance, friends.

For those of you who love watercolor and DIY, I've come up with a fun tutorial to make your own little gift tags. I went with a botanical theme here, because I just adore incorporating florals and leaves in my Christmas wrapping.

If you read my post on watercolor paper, you know I am all about using pro paper, HOWEVER every rule has an exception and here's mine. I used cheap student grade Canson (snag it here) for these gift tags, because nobody's going to hang 'em on their wall...unless you created a mini masterpiece, in which case....

On that note, let's get our DIY on.

Materials

  • Watercolor Paint (color choice is really up to you here - think about the color scheme you would like for your gifts this year and what colors coordinate with your wrapping paper)
  • Round Brush #4 and #10 (I use the Princeton Heritage 4050R Series)
  • 140lb Cold-Pressed Paper (I used Canson)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Optional: Folksy Christmas playlist + a cuppa

Step One

Draw a very light grid on a sheet of watercolor paper using your ruler and pencil. The size of your gift tags is completely up to your personal preference. I typically make mine around the size of a business card. Cut these out using a paper cutter or your scissors. Don't worry about them being perfect! Nobody will notice if they're not all the same size, I promise.

On a second sheet of paper, grab a small round object (I used a roll of masking tape, but you could use a mug or anything else you have handy) and trace some circles. Cut these out too so you have some round gift tags!

Step Two 

Grab your hole punch and punch a hole 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch away from the top of all of your gift tags. You can put these in the corner of your gift tags or in the center like I did.

Watercolor Ombre Gift Tags

These were the easiest gift tags to create! I taped three of them down at the top to make sure they didn't wiggle around while I painted them.

Grab your round #10 brush and add a very light wash of color (mostly water) to the bottom of your gift tags. Stop when you are about halfway up. While the paper is still damp, add more pigment to your brush and lightly dab it into the very bottom of the gift tag. This wet on wet technique will allow the pigment to bleed upwards. Note: From left to right, I used Sap Green, Opera Rose, and Hooker's Green.

Sidebar: If you are using Canson paper, it is important to note that you don't want to use too much water here or they will turn into a mess. Also, be extra careful peeling off the tape (if you used it) to be sure you don't tear the paper.

Let these dry, remove the tape, and voila! You have super cute and easy tags that add a pop of color to your gifts.

Rose Watercolor Gift Tag

I painted this one on the round tags, because I love how it enhanced the roundness of the flower. You could also paint these on rectangular or square tags if you prefer! Note: It helps to pull up a reference image of a rose for this one.

Step One

Using the tip of your #4 round brush, grab some paint (I used Scarlet Lake) and make a few dark curves to accentuate the center of the rose.

Step Two

Quickly rinse out your brush completely and remove the excess water. Using your clean brush, create larger curves around the center, pulling pigment from step one to create a nice bleed.

Step Three

Repeat step two, creating larger curves as you move further away from the center. I switched to my #10 round for this step. Be sure to leave some white space in between to distinguish the different petals (and so it doesn't look like a blob!). While the rose is still wet, dot in more pigment where your shadows would be.

Step Four

Once your rose is dry, add a few leaves around it with a dark green (as usual, I used Sap Green) with your #4 round brush.

Chrysanthemum Watercolor Gift Tag

Step One

Once again, using the tip of your #4 round brush, grab some paint (I used Rhodonite Genuine) and make a few dark lines and curves to accentuate the center of the chrysanthemum.

Step Two

Like you did with the rose, rinse out your brush completely and remove the excess water. Using your clean brush, create larger petals around the center, pulling pigment from step one to create a bleed. Chrysanthemums tend to curve inward at the top and fall away as you move outward. It helps to focus on the center point where they are all connected and pull the curves away from that point when creating petals.

Step Three

While the flower is still slightly damp, add your stem (I used Sap Green with a touch of Lamp Black) and leaves. I lightly touched the stem to the flower to create that tiny bleed. Chrysanthemums have uniquely shaped leaves, so make sure your edges are not perfect curves. For the leaves, I mixed in a little Hansa Yellow Deep with my Sap Green.

Peony Leaves Watercolor Gift Tag

Step One

Grab your #10 round and load up your brush with a dark green, like Sap Green. Create a short stem from the bottom using the tip of your brush. For the left side of the first leaf, start at the top with the tip of your brush, adding pressure as you move towards the center, and releasing pressure as you get to the stem. I wiggled my curve a little, so it wasn't a perfect C curve to add interest.

Step Two

While the left side is still damp, add a little yellow to your green (I used Hansa Yellow Deep) and repeat step one for the right side of the first leaf. Lightly touch the left side in a few places to create a bleed.

Step Three

Repeat steps one and two to create the other two leaves. I let mine go off the gift tag, but you could also put all three in the center if you prefer!

Myrtle Leaves Watercolor Gift Tag

Step One

Using your #4 round, grab a dark green, like Sap Green mixed with a little Lamp Black. Paint a stem using the very tip of your brush.

Step Two

For the leaves, switch to your #10 round and add and release pressure like you did with the Peony leaves. This time, don't wiggle your brush as Myrtle leaves typically have perfect C curves. You should be able to do an entire leaf with one movement, so practice these on a scrap sheet of paper until you get the hang of it! Alternate shades of green (add in a little more yellow or a little black for some leaves) to create more interest.

Step Three

Once your center stem and leaves are dry, you can add one on either side (or leave them off, it looks pretty either way!).


There you have it! A variety of handmade watercolor gift tags to add a sweet touch to your Christmas gifts this year. I recommend making a handful of each kind and switching up the colors (i.e., red rose, yellow rose) and placement of the leaves so they all look different! Of course, if you are not feeling the DIY thing, you could just purchase my gift tag set which will be hitting my shop tomorrow!

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