I’m Done Shopping… Wrapping Has Begun


Black Friday, the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season, isn’t until next week, but I’ve just about finished my Christmas shopping. I started extra-early because I realized that I was visiting almost everyone on my list, and I wanted to save the postage.

It was a big job. Not the shopping, the wrapping.

Unless you’ve done it, I don’t think people appreciate the effort that goes into this.

Let’s say you have two gifts — one for Shel, one for Susan. Shel’s gift is in the general shape of a rectangle, Susan’s is a thin, flat square. Shel’s is a soft, squashy thing and Susan’s is packaged in its own box. Thank goodness.

Yet you must find a box to fit Shel’s gift. You don’t want to wrap it as is because he may figure out what you’re giving him. You don’t want to throw it into a gift bag because, well, that’s not the way we do things around here.

So you go into the secret stash of boxes that you have been hoarding all year for just this moment. If someone needed a box last April, you carefully weighed their need against your own before admitting you “might” have one, and then reconsidered one more time before handing it over. You have 200 boxes in there, but it doesn’t matter. None of them will be the right size for Shel’s gift. Instead, you will end up dumping the family Cheerios into a baggie and using that box.

Shel will think he is getting Cheerios. Perfect.

Next, you remove the price tags. It is really bad form to leave on expensive price tags, and really embarrassing to leave on cheapo price tags. I even remove the tags from the dogs’ gifts. Can’t have them catching on. They think everything is from Santa.

Finally, you wrap both boxes in wrapping paper. Shel’s must be a masculine print; Susan’s must be feminine. You can use plaids or stripes, but only if each box has perfect corners and you’re using a level and a T-square. Otherwise, your gifts are going to come out looking a little disheveled. Solid papers are good, but then you have to be really careful with the tape. One wrong move and you have to start all over because an errant tape smudge is much more noticeable on a solid than on a pattern.

You might think you’re done, but you are not. You need a kicky little bow and it must a) be color-coordinated to the paper, b) not be the same on both gifts, and c) include a non-crushable jingle bell or other dingle-dangle to make it exciting.

Lastly, you add the gift tag. If you’ve used a solid paper, you can probably find one that will look good. If you’ve used a plaid, stripe or pattern, good luck. These usually detract so badly from the gift itself that I stick mine on the bottom of the gift. And forget about Post-its — they are simply too convenient to be allowed.

Did I say “lastly?” I jest. Now you have to find a box in which to mail these two disparately sized packages. You need one big enough for Susan’s gift and tall enough for Shel’s gift, but without a lot of wiggle room, because they will wiggle themselves to tatters between here and Atlanta. Stuff Styrofoam peanuts, newspaper, tissue paper or — better yet! — smaller gifts into the spaces.

To wrap the small gifts, go back to the start of this column.