Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Wrap Better than Jay-Z

Like many of us, I eagerly wait every year for Christmas. You may be wondering why.

* Am I looking forward to seeing my family? Not particularly. I see them all the time.
* Is it for religious reasons? I would like to say yes, but in reality, not so much.
* Do I want a big pile of presents? Well, duh. But that’s not why.


For this little elf, wrapping Christmas gifts is a once-a-year way to express myself visually in a medium besides creatively dressing myself and others. I find it to be an extension of my job as a wardrobe stylist. If pretty wrapping paper is the clothing, then the bows and ribbons are definitely the accessories. No wonder I love it! (Plus, I hate to admit it, but I am a little crafty too – but I don’t scrapbook or make crafts.)

At Christmastime, nothing delights me more than creating attractive packages for my friends and family to open. In my mind at least, I am pretty good at it. So I wrapped early this year and decided to share some of my secrets.

The Essentials

1) Tags – sticky ones and hang tags in colors and patterns that compliment my wrap
2) Scissors, scalloped-edge scissors, hole punch, matte scotch tape, glue stick
3) Various ribbons, string, raffia, and pipe cleaners
4) Lunch-style Christmas bags
5) Tissue – Red, green, and all sorts of patterns
6) Scrapbook paper

The Tradition
I usually wrap everything at once on the Sunday night before Christmas while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a movie I don’t have to watch to know what’s going on. For me, it’s like my background music.

The Wrap
In the past, I have done uniform wrapping themes (for instance, all the gifts I wrap are gold or red and swirly, or made from natural materials).

Now, just like with my closet, I buy and use what I am attracted to most. My decorating aesthetic tends toward mod, retro or swirly patterns and bright colors, and that’s where I go with my Christmas wrap as well. People can immediately tell which gifts are from me based on the colors and patterns. It’s kind of my signature.

I really like non-traditional colors for Christmas like lime and orange. If you look closely, you will notice that these colors have made their way into Christmas wrap and accessories. I still do the traditional red and green and metallics, but if the colors are more vibrant or funky, that seems to inspire me more.

You can also use non-Christmas wrap! One of my best secrets is to get away from the Christmas section of the store and see if anything in the regular wrap section inspires me. I found this lime green wrap and added deep red ribbons for a Christmas look.

Just as petite people look “off” in large patterns and larger people don’t look quite right in tiny prints, proportion is vital in wrapping Christmas gifts. Keep small, medium, and large-patterned paper on hand.

I tend to buy small and medium-size gifts, so that is what I focus on when buying wrap.

(Note: the Christmas tree package’s ribbon is greener than it appears.)

For the Kiddies
I don’t particularly care for buying character wrapping paper. This is what my mom has always done. To me, it’s much more fun to find pink and lavender Christmas wrap for my nieces (below) and fun boyish wrap for the nephews, without having to wrap everything in giant pictures of Barbie or Spider-Man.

Mixing Patterns
I love creatively mixing patterns in wardrobes, and with Christmas wrap and accessories, It’s really no different. As long as you use one larger, further apart pattern and one smaller, more closely spaced pattern – or they somehow relate color-wise - you should have a winner.

Candy cane stripe ribbon with green polka dot wrap!

Yellow bag, funky tissue paper, red-on-red polka dot paper.

Personally, I prefer hanging tags for my presents, but find a better selection of sticky tags. So I make my own hang tags. I stick the to/from stickers to patterned scrapbooking paper, cut them out with my scalloped scissors, and punch a hole in them. Then I have the freedom to affix them to my gifts however I like.

The odd-shaped gift
I don’t know about you, but I find that I have to wrap at least a couple of cylinder-shaped gifts every year. They naturally become candy!

I double-wrapped this with a piece of colored tissue paper inside, and cut the ends of both with my trusty scalloped scissors.

I also like printed lunch bags for items that are hard to wrap. I use the scalloped scissors on the top and then punch holes across. I then lace cord or raffia through to close them.

Ribbons & Bows
I use the standard, store-bought bows, but sometimes I add to them with curls or raffia.

On an extra large package, instead of spending $5 on a bow that will get tossed in the trash, I staple a bunch of curling ribbon onto a small piece of cardboard and curl it. Then I tape it to the package under where the bow will go and I arrange it around the bow.

Or sometimes raffia gives it an extra kick.

Or, if you’re a traditionalist and like to use satin ribbon, you know it isn’t the easiest material to work with. It takes a little engineering.

To create the following look, I first taped the ribbon to the bottom to secure it. I then tied a bow and used a trick from my “bag of tricks” (and I do have one) – double-stick tape. Instead of taping a client into a dress, as I sometimes need to do, I simply molded the bow the way I wanted it to look and stuck it to the package. Looks simple, huh?

Storing it all until next year
I bought this container from Target this year.

It’s supposed to hold Christmas ornaments, but I found it perfect for storing all my wrapping materials. The tissue paper and scissors, tags, tape, etc go on the top, and the bottom is for the ribbons.

I also use small hair rubber bands (the black “ouchless” kind) to secure the ends of my wrapping paper rolls. Try this! It will save your paper for next year.

Where to buy
Here are the places where I seem to find fun and well-priced wrapping paper and supplies:
(It does end up in the garbage, after all!!)

Target (found that green ‘candy’ wrap above in the $1 section!)
Factory Card Outlet
Dollar Tree
Tuesday Morning
Jo Ann etc.
World Market


So those are my wrapping tips and tricks. Anyone want to share theirs?

(Sorry about the fonts switching around - Blogger gets ornery when I use a lot of pictures, and I don't feel like going all the way through the HTML code to figure out the problem.)


Always a Bridesmaid said...

Fun! You have quite a procedure mapped out.

For me, it's all about the bows. I tend to use three options:
1. go to Jo-Ann and buy a fun wired ribbon (then pick a coordinating paper)
2. use raffia from Tar-jaaay (it's cheap and always looks cute)
3. go out on a limb and use something like wired garland (wrap the ends around your finger to create cute curli-Qs at the ends)

After I figure out the bows, I pick out the paper. One year I used plaid wired ribbon and brown shipping paper. Sounds crazy, but it was super cute - and cheap!

The finishing touch? Gently pinch the edges along the top and sides of the package so it looks like a crisp line. Makes a huge difference.

Wrap away!

Leslie Carruthers said...

Missed this until 2 days after Christmas :( - fun ideas! :)

I buy ribbon on clearance at other times of the year, or after the holidays and that is the focus of my wrapping.

The last few years I've done a solid paper that coordinates with several ribbons. This year I found a HUGE spool of gold ribbon at a garage sale so used that and lime green paper (Target) for everything.

I love the polka dots and stripes and mixing patterns idea - will take that on for next year! Thanks KK!