#1PG says – My name is Zach and I am an awful wrapper. My usual effort looks like a 3 year old has attached paper, sticky tape and glitter before covering the package in the ensuing mess. My wife on the other hand is an 8th level black belt wrapper of gifts. She is so good, other families ask her to wrap their gifts!
This year, to help all struggling gentlemen with the same affliction as I suffer, I have kindly asked my wife to dispense her wisdom and give tips on successful wrapping this festive season. Mrs #1PG, over to you…
One of my favourite movie clips, with reference to gift wrapping, is the scene in “Love Actually” when Alan Rickman’s poor character is confounded and exasperated by the extravagant gift wrapping process, as delivered by Rowan Atkinson. I am sure that most people who do not simply love the process, despair at the mere thought of having to try and make good on the presentation; surely the gift alone is good enough? Wrapping a present well can make all the difference.
Begin with the end in mind
Once you have a good idea of the gifts you are going to purchase, either at a shop or online, the next port of call should be the stationery store. Here is where the next two points come into play:
Generally I work around a theme for my gift wrapping. This could be either a story, or a message, or a group of colours. This helps me to focus and create the visual image I want to see around the Christmas tree; I am ever the photographer so it all has to look aesthetically pleasing. My theme this year is London, reds, whites and brown paper.
Being a stationery store lover, I seldom need a (good) reason to go in and browse around. This year, to try and assist the PG world, I have decided to show you my mini arsenal of goodies that are ready to go for Christmas wrapping. You need not go this crazy, but it does give you a good idea of what is out there.
At times we find ourselves with the conundrum of needing easy wrapping ideas for difficult shaped gifts. The next two points are your quick fix solutions.
If, for example, your prezzie is a lovely bottle of bubbly, you could use one of those fail-safe bottle specific gift bags. However, instead of hastily flinging a bottle into a bag, try some finesse and finish things off well. Buy some tissue paper and wrap the bottle with it, then tie a bow with ribbon around the neck of the bottle and fray / fluff the edge of the tissue paper so that it is sticking up out of the top of the bag, and voila! It looks like you have invested a little bit more effort into the gift process. Usually, depending on the person, I also slip a few little goodies inside the bag. At Christmas I buy festive chocolates and mini treats and slip a few down the sides of the bag. Another good touch would be to buy a larger gift bag and to add some artisan cheese and water biscuits to go with the bottle of red. I think you get the idea.
As the song lyrics go, “brown paper packages tied up with string; these are a few of my favourite things.” For all odd shaped items such as clothing or something that is not in an easy-to-wrap shape, I would suggest using a box. Eliminate the amorphous shaped item that won’t conform to the gift paper size. Once inside a box, you can wrap it up effortlessly. Or, should you have a decorative box, it is just a case of embellishing it with a ribbon or bow, and maybe some distinctively themed decor, before adding your labels.
Mise-en-place (French for “putting in place”)
The first step is to set up where you will work. Find enough space to work in and get together all the things you will need. Generally, I tend to wrap items alone and maybe in one or two sessions. I prepare my sticky tape into a surface that I can work from, in the picture you will see they are in a functional space, and usually enough to get through a gift or two. (If you have a tape dispenser – use that!)
Let’s assume you are covering a present in the most common rectangular box shape.
- Take your paper and lay it out with the nice side face down.
- Place your object on the paper and mark off with a pencil how much paper you will need. To do this, loosely fold the paper over the box till it is covered, leaving a good edge around the box to come up halfway along the short side.
- Cut with scissors to get the right amount of paper. You can cut either on the pencil line or by creasing the paper to the size you need, or, if you have a steady hand, by line of sight.
- Place the box in the centre of the paper, fold one of the long sides up and secure to the gift with a piece of sticky tape.
- Before you bring the last edge around to close off the gift, neaten the cut edge by folding a small hem in the paper, thereby creating a clean line on the exposed paper, and stick down with tape.
- For the small / short edge, fold the shortest ends towards the box and square them off, this will create a large envelope shape (see photo) on the remaining paper, at this point you can neatly fold or trim some of the paper to cut down bulk before securing the two envelope edges together.
If you need to see it done, here is an easy to follow wrapping tutorial.
Lastly, the finishing touches. Here you add your final flourish for presentation. From the earlier photo you can see all the “bling” and adornments I have to finish off the final “product”. Being detailed oriented, I usually vary the decorations so a recipient will receive two or three different looks on their two or three gifts, but that is just me. Some gifts will be adorned with bows and ribbons; some with stickers and felt themed icons etc. Receiving a well appointed gift (especially for ladies) is a little slice of heaven.
In my theme this year, as mentioned earlier, I have included some subtle flourishes to the gifts; red tissue paper lining white wrapping paper to create a collar, over the edge of the regular wrapping and finishing off with a glittery name tag. I do this by folding the tissue paper over the top edge of the wrapping paper, it gives a lovely effect.
I do hope you have found some inspiration and that you too will try your hand at making it a perfectly wrapped Christmas.