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DIY Reusable Christmas Gift Tags

Update 12/13/2013: Thanks to my friend Renee Handy, you can now download a version of these gift tags that can be modified without Adobe Acrobat Pro or Adobe Illustrator. This new template includes editable form tags you can fill out using Acrobat Reader. (Information on formatting these fields is provided below.)

page_previewIf, like me, you’re looking for excuses to duck holiday responsibilities – baking cookies, sending out Christmas cards, staging unnecessarily elaborate tableaus for your home’s over-priced Elf on a Shelf – making reusable gift tags can be a nice filler project for the days leading up to Christmas.

Benefits of this project include:

  • Never forget to buy gift tags again, necessitating that you write names on your carefully wrapped-and-ribboned packages with a Sharpie (no judgments)
  • Legible gift tags, even on the presents your husband wrapped
  • Reusable and eco-friendly (although you’re probably going to be attaching them to a surfeit of wrapping paper)


DIY Reusable Christmas Gift Tags

For this project, you will need:

  • Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Pro (Acrobat Reader will not allow you to modify the text)*
  • Access to a color printer
  • Medium-weight resume paper (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Scotch laminating machine and laminating pouches (one for every page of labels you print)
  • Scotch double-sided tape (for holding tags in place when laminating)
  • Grommet maker and appropriately-sized eyelets (I used 3/16”)
  • String for threading the grommet (or similar)

*Access to an application like Adobe Illustrator/Acrobat Pro is undoubtedly the limiting factor for this project since the laminating machine can be acquired for around $20.

Step 1. Install requisite fonts.

Many of the design elements used in the templates are based on specialty typefaces, so you will have to install the following typefaces at a minimum:

I also recommend you install the fonts used for the label text (you will otherwise have to rework the typography):

Step 2. Download and modify the gift tag template.

Download one of the two available PDF templates:

  • Template A – requires Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Pro

    The artwork from each tag is separated individual layers, and the text for all labels is grouped together in a separate layer. You can modify the contents of the text layer, and duplicate it to create new “sheets” (hiding the original layer) with different giver/recipient combinations. For example, I have separate layers for presents from Chad and me to our son, presents from me to Chad, and presents to his mother from us (which simply read “To Nana”).

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  • Template B – requires Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download)

    Includes rich-text enabled form tags so you can fill in the names. The font face for each form field has been pre-set to Helvetica, but each field is rich text enabled, so you can type and format each name in a rich text editor such as Microsoft Word, then copy and paste the results into the form tags.

Note: These gift tags are based upon those originally made available by HGTV.com here and here.

Step 3: Print the gift tags and cut them out.

Show/hide each layer of text you’ve modified or created to print one or more copies of each set of tags. You can print these on medium-weight paper or cardstock, although if you plan to laminate them, this step might be unnecessary. Once printed, use scissors to cut them out.

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These look pretty sharp, but they’re no more resilient than what you can pick up at the store. Which is why I recommend that you…

Step 4: Laminate the gift tags and cut them out. (Again.)

Arrange your labels within a Scotch laminating sleeve. You will want approximately 3/16”-1/4” border around the laminated labels, so try to leave 3/8”-1/2” space between them when arranging them (more if you’ve opted for a heavier weight paper). I found it easiest to arrange the tags inside the sleeve the same way I laid them out in the PDF. Use a small piece of double-sided Scotch tape on the back side of the tag to hold each in place so they won’t move or fall out (the tape leaves them easily re-positionable).

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Once your laminating machine is warmed up, run each sleeve through. Give each a few seconds to cool then cut out the laminated labels, being careful to allow for at least a 3/16” plastic border.

Step 5. “Put a Ring On It” – Grommet your gift tags.

Each tag has a rounded tab with a circle to show where a grommet should be applied. Use a grommet tool to punch a hole in each gift tag. Fit a grommet ring/eyelet into the hole you’ve punched and use the grommet tool’s press to set it. Tie a string (I used metallic ribbon) through the grommet. This part of your gift tag will receive the most wear-and-tear but will be easy to replace when it becomes worn. You can either use Scotch tape to apply these new gift tags or tie them onto an appropriately-shaped present (such as the neck of a bottle of wine).

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I spent 3-4 hours a night over the past four nights to complete seven sheets of reusable labels (which works out to 84 labels). My gift-giving circle is pretty small, though, so YMMV.

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