Who cares what's inside when it's wrapped with

style? Ribbons and paper are still in the running,

but this year's hit is the variety of cartons, boxes

and bags for gifts--with no cutting, taping or folding, and if the gift is opened carefully, the containers can be recycled indefinitely. Some designs have matching paper, such as the multi-colored graph sacks ($2.75 for 10, or 35 cents each) and Chinese food cartons (45 cents, 55 cents, 65 cents) at The Midnight Sun, 1700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. (393- 4769) and at 1800 M St. NW. (296-1450).

If poinsettias and Santa Clauses don't suit your painstakingly chosen gift, consider the gentle gargoyle. He appears, straight from the Washington Cathedral's Herb Cottage gift shop (537- 6230), on wrapping paper drawn by Babs Gaillard, who has done pen-and-ink sketches of gargoyles for more than 20 years (she avoids climbing towers and creeping onto ledges by working from photographs). Gargoyle wrapping paper is 35 cents for a 221/2" by 29" sheet, or three sheets for $1.

Printer and artist Jane Pomeroy offers tasteful gift tags of simple design (21/2" square) for your gift giving. At her Burntcoat Press (362-7217), she prints tags featuring simple Christmas designs for 20 cents each or 25 cents with attached string or ribbon, and will use the colored ink and the tinted paper of your choice, at no extra cost, if you make arrangements.

At The Paper Store, at 613 Massachusetts Ave. NW (789- 1316), you'll find special gift-wrap for food. The wrap comes in red, green or blue with silver polka-dot design, and is constructed of printed aluminum foil and biodegradable wax paper, with a cushioning layer of air pockets to keep the food warm or cool. It seals moisture in and cold air out, and you can both freeze and re-heat right in the wrapping paper. A package of all three colors is $3.50 for 10 sheets, 16" by 18", totalling 20 square feet. The Paper Store's other locations are in Bethesda, Landover, Rockville and Tysons Corner.