The sight of gifts wrapped in their festive finery under the tree lends that extra air of excitement to the whole proceedings. There are so many beautiful and enticing papers and wrapping materials available, you will unquestionably be spoilt for choice.
A well-wrapped gift shows thought and adds a little splendour. Taking that extra time to present it in an original, stylish or coordinated way can elevate even the humblest offering. You may decide to choose one particular paper and wrap all your gifts in that one pattern – or you may coordinate with your overall room colour scheme. Either way, let’s look at some of the options available and the materials and equipment that will help to make wrapping more fun and special this Christmas.
Equipment to Make the Job Easier
Many of us have probably tried to hastily wrap a gift in the tiniest space left on a desk or work surface, balancing rolls of gift-wrap and bits of sticky tape while trying to wrestle the paper into some sort of order. Don’t make it this hard on yourself. You know deep down, even when you’re fighting the clutter, that it makes sense to clear as large a surface as possible on a counter top or desk. Failing that, what’s wrong with the floor? Before you start, assemble all your equipment and materials.
Gift bags, boxes & containers
Pen for writing names on tags
Ribbons, twine & decorative string
Decorative embellishments: small ornaments, bells, greenery
Sharp pair of scissors
Paperweight to hold down larger pieces of paper while folding
You might want to consider keeping all of your wrapping equipment together. There are a number of products out there to help. The Really Useful Paper Wrap Box from Viking (viking-direct.co.uk) costs less than £20, is long enough to hold rolls of wrapping paper and has two compartment shelves for tags, sticky tape, scissors and ribbons. Alternatively Gift Wrap Organisers are widely available in a similar price range. These are made of more flexible material rather than hard plastic and have zip pockets along with handles for easy carrying. Visit amazon.co.uk or notonthehighstreet.com for an array of choices.
Plainly – It’s a Wrap
There are so many beautiful papers available at Christmas from numerous outlets. You will doubtless be drawn to colours and patterns that suit your own style and your home’s colour scheme. We believe you can’t go too far wrong, whatever your selection, so How to Christmas is not going to suggest which of these decorative papers you must choose. Instead, we’re going to offer you a few alternative ideas using plain papers and other materials – some of which you may wish to include in complementary fashion alongside your patterned paper. Plain brown wrapping paper works well when teamed with red trimmings and sprigs of natural greenery. Readily available, durable and inexpensive, it gives you a blank canvas with which to display your creative side. Many single colour papers can also be transformed in this way with the detail coming in the ribbon, twine, tags and decorations that you use to enhance the present. A single colour paper with perhaps three different colours of ribbon and embellishment still looks coordinated and you can use different themes/colours for friends and family. Plain papers can also be used with Christmas stamps that are available to create your own decorative paper. See ‘Tags, Stamps and Stickers’ below for details. Tissue paper and cellophane – both plain and patterned – can work splendidly, especially when wrapping irregular shaped gifts like bottles. Both materials are widely available at Amazon. You will find buying online offers much better value than the high street. One company you may wish to explore for cellophane, tissues, bows and ribbons is thewrappingranch.co.uk. Based in Leeds, the company started off on eBay before growing into its own online store. You’ll be surprised how little a 28-metre roll of clear cellophane will cost you. The company sells a wide variety of patterned cellophanes in varying amounts. You simply choose how much you need.
Bags and Boxes
Gift bags and gift boxes can provide a speedy solution for awkwardly shaped presents. You may want to add a little extra embellishment, though, because without tissue or decorative touches a plain bag or box will lack glitz. Coordinating or contrasting tissue paper conceals and protects the gift. The addition of a couple of small Christmas decorations and a sprig of greenery tied with suitably festive ribbon will also make the wrapping more inviting. If you are going for a simple but sumptuous bow, think big and bold. Have a look below for more ideas in our segments entitled: ‘Tags, Stickers and Stamps’ and ‘Christmas All Tied Up’.
Let’s Stick Together
Good old basic sticky tape will do the job when securing gift wrap. It may be worth buying a Scotch Pop-up tape dispenser and refills. Although slightly more expensive than normal sticky tape, each piece is pre-cut to the same length to make the job quicker, easier and neater. Sellotape produces a tear-able satin tape on a roll you might also consider. Aim to use as little tape as possible to hold the paper together, applying it neatly. A glue stick can also work when used on the edge of lighter weight papers to produce invisible fastening. Double-sided tape is another way to conjure up an invisible join and could prove stronger, too. Also consider using Washi tape, sometimes simply described as decorative tape. This delicate masking tape from Japan has the properties of rice paper – which is gaining popularity for card making, gift-wrapping and numerous home crafts and is available in a wide range of colours and patterns. You can write on the tape and it’s easy to remove and reapply without destroying the surface to which it has been attached. If you’re interested in this as a product visit lovelytape.co.uk.
Tags, Stickers and Stamps
You can buy a set of matching tags for your chosen wrapping paper. Nice and easy. Job done. But why not go for something a little different this year and make your own…if only for a few of your friends and family. Plain brown or white tags can be embellished in any number of ways using Christmas stamping kits, photographs, Christmas confetti, ribbon, cut-outs from wrapping paper – all topped off with a coordinating marker pen bought specially for the purpose. With a flurry of cutting and sticking you will soon have a selection of individual tags you can match-up with your wrapping scheme. Why not print out a photo of you and the person the gift is for and attach it to a plain brown paper tag. This instantly tells you the intended recipient, makes it personal, adds some fun and reminds us of the true spirit of Christmas: love and friendship.
We love the idea of making parcels look like…well, just that – parcels. Here stickers can be used as a stamp in the top right hand corner. You will find a host of Christmas stickers online, most notably through amazon.co.uk. Also, notonthehighstreet.com have stickers that can be personalised. You can also try a bit of festive printing using commercially made rubber stamps: great fun for grown-ups as well as for children. Have a look at noolibird.com for some beautifully intricate and original designs and inkpads in a wide range of colours. Noolibird is a Brighton-based company established in 2003 and the work of Nula Shearing, who had previously designed wallpapers and fabrics. The stamps are designed and handmade at her Brighton home and are inspired by nature and folklore. Among the new range are the “Little House in the Snow” stamps from £5. We also love the “Winter Walks” stamp for £16 and “Snow Hare” stamps from £6. The selection is wide and all can be used to embellish gift tags, cards and wrapping. You can also commission bespoke designs.
Christmas All Tied Up
Patterned ribbon, gauzy organza, rustic twine, red and white string, gold elastic – there are so many beautiful products around at Christmas for tying around your wrapped gifts. Buying a selection of wrapping ties in different patterns, widths and textures, but in a specific colour scheme, can help to produce a coordinated effect with your paper. Wired ribbon is useful as it is easy to bend into attractive bows. This can also be used to decorate Christmas trees and keep the overall effect uniform. Don’t waste money on expensive one-metre pieces of ribbon or bags of bows when you can order a 25m roll of 25mm double-sided satin ribbon in many colours for a little more than £5, including postage. The Christmas Home – the festive arm of The Contemporary Home at tch.net or through notonthehighstreet.com – stock some of our favourite ribbons and ties.
Quick to It
If you have a large gifts list, try to wrap at least some of your presents as close to purchasing them as possible because doing everything in one sitting will take far longer than anticipated…and this can take the fun out of the whole procedure. Maybe start with gifts that have an irregular shape and will therefore be trickier to negotiate. That way, you allow yourself time to figure out the best wrapping method. Rectangular and square boxes will be a breeze after that.
How about a trip to the Far East to learn an alternative and environmentally friendly way of wrapping gifts – regardless of their shape or size? The Japanese art of Furoshiki involves using soft fabrics to wrap presents. It provides an unusual way of presenting the lovely items you have purchased. Furoshiki is an eco-friendly wrapping fabric. You can buy authentic Furoshiki wraps at specialist sites such as the thefuroshikicompany.co.uk or you can try your local markets, shops and large department stores such as John Lewis.
How to Wrap
A simple but effective technique with wrapping paper is to fold pleats into the paper to add interest. For examples of this – and for further inspiration for your wrapping – why not look at the excellent Jane Means website. Jane is renowned as the Gift Wrap Guru and has worked for such clients as Harrods, Marks & Spencer and Claridges, as well as providing a luxury gift-wrapping service for the likes of Selfridges, Dior, Ralph Lauren and The White Company. Jane runs courses at her gift-wrapping school in Lincoln as well as in London, Glasgow, Harrogate and Hampshire. But if you want to learn her skills in the comfort of your own home then you can purchase her DVD “The Art of Gift-Wrapping” or download her individual video clips that cover various wrapping dilemmas. It’s also possible to purchase the materials she mentions from her on-line shop to make the task even more achievable. Check out janemeans.com.
Elf Helper: We like to recycle whenever we can. It’s crucial at Christmas because it’s estimated by DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) that more than three million tonnes of rubbish is created each festive season in Britain. Re-use those gift bags everyone.