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Tied with a Bow: Gift Wrapping, the Ultimate Present(ation)

From an early age, my appreciation for a beautifully wrapped gift was noticeable to all those in my household. I requested that all gifts be wrapped in the matching paper and ribbon that I selected. As children, around Christmastime, we view a wrapped present with more reverence than we do as adults. When it comes to gifts, this childlike sense of wonder remains with me. During the holidays and, especially at Christmastime, as children we obviously viewed a wrapped gift much differently than we do in adulthood. At a very early age, my appreciation for a beautifully wrapped gift was noticeably apparent to all those in my household. I requested that all gifts be wrapped in the matching paper and ribbon that I selected or approved for each holiday season. Even more humorous is when I first discovered wired ribbon and double-stick tape, which I saw as the ultimate game changers. Though wrapping presents has become a tradition across all cultures, the history of this practice can be traced back to ancient Asia. Here in the West, however, in the early 20th century, the affluent used decorative paper or pieces of fabric, along with ribbons and lace, to cover presents as a practice of luxury. But the birth of modern-day gift dressing, as it was once referred to, rose to popularity in 1917 thanks to two brothers, Joyce and Rollie Hall of Kansas City, Missouri. At the time, they ran a stationery store (which would eventually become known worldwide as Hallmark). One year, they ran out of standard tissue paper used for concealing and decorating the gifts of their customers. In need of wrapping paper, the pair found a stack of fancy French paper meant for lining envelopes. They placed the paper for sale, and it quickly sold out. The trend continued for the next couple of years before they began producing and selling their own printed, decorative wrapping paper. Many department stores began developing the practice of choosing to wrap customers’ items with manila paper before eventually switching to decorative paper altogether. In my design work, I often see a piece of fabric, wallpaper, or material that is viable for gift wrapping. I put these aside for later when I need to create a masterpiece. I have often found myself carried away with finding the right materials or obsessing about the perfect shade of ribbon or ornament to adorn a present. Gift wrapping is such an obsession; there have been many instances when I have realized long after the fact that I’ve spent much more monetarily on the wrapping than on the present itself. Don’t let that discourage you or have you thinking ill of yourself. Once you have selected your materials, create the perfect gift-wrapping-conducive atmosphere for your work. Find a well-lit area with plenty of room to spread out. I am sure I cannot be the only one who dreams of having a gift-wrapping room. I have visited many homes with such rooms that would have you wonder how you ever wrapped a gift without one. They are efficient spaces dedicated to having entire walls with rolls and sheets of paper, bolts of fabrics, ribbons and so many other materials, all readily available at your disposal. The ideal gift-wrapping room has a large grafting table and all the tools necessary to create. However, such a room is not a requirement, only a wishful luxury. For the purposes of the season, any space can do as long as you know the proper steps. When wrapping gifts and using decorative paper, keep your seams as seamless in appearance. Whatever adhesive used should always be as transparent as possible. Try to use double-stick tape or strategically place tape where it can easily be covered by ribbon or ornaments. Sometimes we may not have the time to dedicate to gift wrapping. This is when a paper gift bag is most commonly used, or perhaps the actual store or boutique bag itself. And yes, we often think of lining that bag with some tissue paper and calling it a day. However, why not be a bit more festive with that bag and adorn it with some ornament that can be easily clipped or tied to the handle or on the bag itself; we want these gifts to stand out. By adding an ornament, we add both a sense of depth and dimension, just as if someone would wear a piece of large jewelry as a statement piece. The same applies here. Texture adds a level of depth and a more luxurious feel. You want your gift to be unique, special and to stand out from the crowd. If you have been to a white elephant gift exchange, and you understand the psychology behind it, you probably agree that most times, we will either choose the largest gift or often the gift that is most beautifully wrapped, completely oblivious to what’s inside. Many of you, as well as many of my clients, have that discerning eye and a fond appreciation for anything exhibiting a level of sophistication or sheer elegance. I tend to think ostentatiously when holiday gift wrapping for my clients with materials that have a very rich and luxurious appearance. A well-wrapped gift conveys the message that one matters, that the recipient is worth your valuable time. And as always, a gift should be given from the heart. Give that present with a sense of pride and confidence. Let that gift be showcased and displayed by giving it that first impression and a presentation worthy of such.

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