Gift Wrapping: An Art Form With Some Dos and Don’ts
by Marjorie Dorfman

It’s that time of year for presents and wrapping and dazzling madness in all shapes and sizes; in other words, "the holidays" are here. No matter what you believe, this means exchanging gifts and wrapping them. Here are some tried and mostly true tips about wrapping holiday packages to both avoid and consider (but not at the same time).

Don’t forget to tag your gifts IMMEDIATELY after you wrap them, especially if you finish shopping early and get really proud of yourself. One year, I found myself out of gift tags but I had plenty of gift-wrap and ribbon. I wrapped the gifts, telling myself I would be sure to remember which was which when I got around to buying tags which I promised myself would be the next day. More than a week passed before I finally bought them, and by that time, I had forgotten which gift was for whom. I had to open and rewrap all of them because all of the packages were more or less the same size and my mind drew a complete blank on what I had bought and for whom. Even if you think it will save time by wrapping and then tagging afterwards, trust me, it won’t.

Do not wrap your gifts in front of cats, unless they are busy mating or otherwise completely preoccupied. There’s something about colorful, moving ribbon that a cat cannot resist and if you are not careful, the ribbon will end up all over your house and person before you can even think to scream, "stop it."

Try buying solid-colored wrapping paper. It is much more versatile and can be made to look just as pretty as any holiday wrap with the proper ribbons and such. This way, you will not need to go out and buy extra paper for an unexpected shower, baby or birthday gift. Pick many different colors. Your choice of ribbons can enhance all of your all-occasion paper. If you can, buy cloth ribbons and ties. They can be re-used, and with just a moment’s effort on an ironing board become brand new. Why not save when you can?

Do not use your bed as a cutting board for a sharp pair of scissors unless you are not fond of the sheets and comforter you currently own. If you are easily distracted, you may end up cutting up bed linen that wasn’t in your original plans. I once sewed a skirt to my comforter and blanket while watching television. This can happen to you even if you think it can’t. Once again, you will have to take my word for it.

If I had learned to properly disguise obvious gifts, I might never have had the tag problem discussed earlier. If one of your gifts every year is easily recognizable, like a certificate for example, put it in a box that resembles something. This is good exercise for the rest of the year when you could be cruising up and down your own street during garbage pick up days to see if any unusual containers have been thrown out. (Avoid this tack if the gift you are giving is for your neighbors. You could end up giving them their own unwanted container back.) Go for oblong or star shaped or anything that won’t reveal telltale edges. It can be fun searching the world for unusual gift containers. Too much of this activity however, may indicate that it is time to get a life.

Cutting off too much or too little paper to wrap a gift may not be a problem for everyone, but it certainly is for me. I am one of those who function like that age-old sign that reads, "plan ahead" with the "d" on the next line. Don’t let this happen to you. If your box is very big, you might have to measure before you cut paper off from its source. If you mis-calculate the amount of paper you need, it is hoped that you will at least be able to use your "mistake" to wrap another gift. Just remember when dealing with this problem to look before you leap and don’t forget to strike while the iron is hot.

Do not, I repeat, do not wait for the last minute to wrap your gifts. This can create much confusion and mis-labeling. Some people don’t wrap at all and just put tissue paper in a shopping bag and place it in the hand or under the tree. To me, this signifies not taking enough time to do it right. You may be less sensitive, so go with your feelings. Be prepared when you wrap, just like a good Girl or Boy Scout. Have the tape ready to seal and everything within your reach.

If you follow this advice, your holiday season may be less hectic. Then again, it might not. Have fun, whatever you do or don’t do.

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good wrap!

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Copyright 2006