The holiday season is a great time to experiment with gift wrapping, so you should take full advantage of it!
Throughout university I worked seasonally in the stock room as a display stocker and gift wrapper/gift basket maker at at a high-end kitchen & home decor store, on the mink mile in downtown Toronto. This place has espresso machines at around 1 500$, and people would come in to buy 2 or 3 (one for home, one for work, one for the cottage). Money was no problem for the customers, which meant that it attracted a certain caliber of spenders, and with them came their expectations for gift wrapping and gift baskets.
Looking back, I think it was a seminal moment in my home decor awakening. I spent 3-4 months a year looking at, learning about, and selling fantastic kitchen items. My favourite part of the week was switching around the beautiful displays and making new ones, re-creating the displays that corporate sent over gave me an inside peek at how things should work when creating visually compelling displays.
Part of the christmas build-up was wrapping tons of popular items like mixers, popcorn machines, pots and pans sets, knife sets etc. so that they could fly out of the store, already wrapped for the customers, without creating a backlog for the gift wrappers in the stock room.
I loved it! I can work cellophane and a hot gun like no other. I also learned how to wrap a gift that would meet the high standards of luxury shoppers – these are things that have stuck with me since. I’m sharing some tips and tricks for wrapping like a professional.
Wrapping a gift
Tape the wrapping paper to the item
Before you start wrapping the gift, tape the end of the paper to the box before you start un-ravelling the roll around the box. You’ll get a tighter wrap and prevent weird gaps and lumps. It will also make it easier to match-up the seams if the pattern isn’t slipping and sliding.
Match the pattern along a seam
If your wrapping paper has a pattern (which it most likely does), match the pattern on both ends of the paper. Do so by folding over the edge that isn’t tapped, until it aligns with the pattern on the seam. I suggest putting seams along the edge/corners of products because disturbances in the pattern are less noticed along the edge.
Fold the ends of the paper
When you’re tapping the ends of the wrapping paper, make sure you fold them into a point with a straight line, and then have one go over the other. Make sure it’s the same one that goes “on top” on the other end of the gift (for symmetry).
Wrap the ribbon 3 times
When measuring out the amount of ribbon you’ll need to wrap a gift and make a box, wrap the ribbon around the longest part of the gift 3 times. It will give you enough slack to make it around the middle of the box on both lengths, and tie a nice big bow.
Tying a ribbon
Find the centre of the ribbon’s length, and then place it at the centre of the box on the side you want to be the “top” (where the bow would go). From that point, while keeping a finger on the ribbon at the centre, flip the box over, cross the ribbon at the middle of the “bottom” of the box so that it can go around the middle of the other length, and then flip it back around to the “top” of the box. Pull one end of the ribbon under the existing ribbon length around the middle, and then tie off in a knot/bow at the centre of the box.
Cut the ends of the bow
You can cut the ends of the bow so that it creates a concave chevron (with two points), or on an angle.
**Martha Stewart also has her own project list for gift wrapping, so feel free to check it out.
Making a gift basket
Find a basket that flatters your gift
Depending on what you’re giving, different baskets will make all the difference. You want your basket to be filled by the gift/gifts, but not overflow. In some instances handles on the basket may prove to be useful for standing-up some items, while a deeper basket will allow for things like books to be securely anchored without falling-out.
Invest in some stuffing
You know that plastic, paper or straw hay that people put in gift baskets? Well they do it for a reason. It’s a great way to cushion whatever you’re giving, hide gift receipts, fill the space to allow for a better presentation of the item (s)
Pick a direction
This should be a no-brainer, but pick a direction from which the basket is supposed to be seen, and build the basket accordingly.
Place the biggest item in the back of the basket. Much like the tallest kid in the class photo, it goes in the centre at the back, Build everything out around it so as to frame it.
Cellophane never hurt anyone
The clear plastic can be a b*tch to work with, but if done correctly, it will protect your gift from rain, snow, or a strong gust of wind! Otherwise think about placing the basket in a large bag.
Don’t be afraid to embellish
Are you thinking of giving a charcuterie or epicurean feast? what about getting a small wood cutting board? some cheese knives? a set of napkins? or maybe some glassware, to go along with a set of spreads and cheese. For fun and camp you can always add a little toy mouse somewhere in the basket, peaking around a corner.
I’m not a huge fan of using bags as gift wrapping,s imply because I’ve always though of it as lazy. That’s just me though. But if you are going to give in a bag, consider jazzing it up a bit. Most stores sells some pretty fun bags that come loaded with glitter, or sequins, while Target and the Dollar store sell some nice bags that don’t look completely lame with trendy patterns and motifs. I’ve even found some great holiday themed gift bags in the clearance section because they wren’t red and green. My holiday colours are silver and gold, so I find those completely appropriate as gifting options. If you’re not spending the extra time to wrap it, at least spend the extra dollar to make it look like you care. This is especially true if you’re gifting to a co-worker or boss, as they interpret how you gift them as a sign of respect (true story, yo).
On the other hand, there are some instances where gift giving in a bag is completely appropriate: wine, cookies, and various baked goods. I recently gave my boss a little bag of a dozen chocolate crinkle cookies (home-made of couse). I could have put them in a ziploc and called it a day. Instead I used little cellophane candy bag with gold stars, which I got at the Bulk Barn for 20c. I bought a whack of them last time I was there because I figured they’d be nice cookie gifting options. So far, I’ve tied them all up with big red twine bow, and called it a day. It took me about 35 seconds more than closing a ziploc, and looks that much nicer.
These used to be super tricky to give, as they came in flimsy little envelopes which meant that you lost the card more often than not. Stores have upped their game in the past couple of years, and now they come in fun shapes and designs, or with cool envelopes/packages to stick them in. Go for it! If you’re looking to make your own, Martha Stewart has her own How-To.
If by chance your gift card of gifting choice does not come with a box/envelopped of your choice, place it within a christmas card. It allows you write-out something thoughtful, and perhaps explain your rationale for a gift card…? “hey, I thought you’d like this gift card to X, because I know you’ve wanted Y, but I wasn’t sure in what size/color/quantity you wanted it.” or “I know you’re been lusting after X, so I thought I would contribute to your goal. Enjoy!”
Some people still consider gift cards to be rather “gauche” as gifts, but I love them! I use them when I am unsure of what to give ex. to children who do not read yet, or when I have to travel a long distance and don’t want to haul 8 million boxes.
Before I met my husband (who insists on giving actual objects), I used to donate to various charities in people’s names. They loved it! I gave to animal shelters for the animal lovers on my list, or to the library, or women’s’ shelters, or military family charities. Point being, a made a gift of money to organizations that are always short on money, as a gift to people who have everything they need and want. A heartfelt christmas card outlining what I’d done and why was worth more to them than a set of ugly socks or chocolates.
For me, gift giving, and therefore wrapping, is all about having fun. I like to give, it makes me happy! I give my time, energy, love, and efforts to people all the time, so when I can give a little extra and it makes them smile, I feel good.
I don’t spend a fortune on my gifts, and often thrive on shopping within a budget. As a military family, most people can appreciate that we may be on a budget sometimes, but it’s always the thought that wins over.
How do you gift?