Monday, December 20, 2010

Wrap To Your Heart's Content!

Forgive me for saying this, but I'm sometimes glad I don't celebrate Christmas. Don't misunderstand, I am not in any way against the holiday, I am just against the gift-buying madness that ensues because of it. I haven't set foot in any major store since mid-November. I get pushed around enough on the subway, I don't need to get elbowed and jabbed at Macy's as well. One could argue that both Chanukkah and Kwanzaa invoke large scale gift-giving, and I'm sure for some families it does. But not mine or most people I know. Regardless, one must admit that Christmas is obviously the big retail attraction of December.

Of course, some of my closest friends and colleagues celebrate Christmas and I love giving people small tokens on special days. So for the past few months, I have been making a nice assortment of small gifts that I have made myself. In small chunks, I have thus managed to give small, personal and unique presents to at least 35 people so far--and enjoy the process!

But the real point for my post today, is that after the gift is made (or bought), there comes the wrapping dilemma. I have seen so many joyous, sparkly looks in people's eyes upon receiving a well decorated gift, that I know that wrapping IS important. Taking the time to decorate your gifts adds so so much to them and can really get someone excited. And if done right, it can be fun and incorporate your personal aesthetic touch into something that may otherwise be nondescript.

And even though it is you getting married, I bet that there will be more than one occasion throughout your planning, when you will be the gift giver. Whether it be for your wedding party, a thank you to all those who chipped in to help, the parents of your new spouse, or wedding favors for all the guests--be prepared. I'm choosing to post this now in hopes that it applies not only to wedding gifts, but can help you with your last minute holiday decorating as well. These small things, like wrapping a gift, are so simple if you think about them well in advance of when you need them, and then plan to do them in small manageable chunks. But for you procrastinators or super busy people, this can help you out as well, I promise! Read on.

This article from the Wall Street Journal (of all places) is a good starting point to consider. I still think it encourages readers to buy their supplies instead of use what is already available in their homes, and it wastes a lot of wrapping (my opinion) but I think it makes some interesting suggestions. It would certainly be good for someone who is just now getting into making some of their wrapping as opposed to buying it all. Most notably, it has a video and a how-to-gift-wrap diagram which is nice. Check it out.

I have developed my own gift wrapping ideas over the years, based on things I concocted and things I have seen, and since I like to share ideas:

  • Use magazine pages with interesting designs or ads for the wrapping. Since most gifts are bigger than a magazine page, I tape together several pages and then treat it as one big wrapping sheet. I can't tell you how many times people have thought this was the most clever & cool wrapping they had ever seen. And here I thought I was just being cheap. If you can get your hands on Photography magazines, these produce the most interesting wrapping. Years ago, I got about 75 photo magazines (those thick paged, large artsy ones) off Craig's List (to my husband's horror), for free, of course, and am still using them for wrapping gifts. I'll try to get it together to take a picture and post an example.
  • Make your own bows out of magazine, colored paper, anything really. I have done this a dozen times and the result is really unique. Instructions on how to make the bows can be found --> here by How About Orange.
  • Save all your ribbons from any gifts you receive. Unlike wrapping paper that rips, bows and ribbons stay intact even after the gift is opened. Save them and reuse!
  • Forget about the ribbon if you don't have any. How about some yarn? You can combine different color yarn strands to make a really nice display on your gift. Make stripes all across the gift, or use one delicate simple yarn and tie a bow. I snooped around and even found some ideas for yarn at Martha Stewart! Check out these pretty gifts from her website:
    Check out this and more wrapping ideas here.

    • Beads. I bet a lot of you have beads sitting around the house. If not, you can get those super cheap plastic ones at any craft or dollar store. When you are done tying your yarn/ribbon around your gift, put your yarn/ribbon through the bead and knot the end so it won't fall off. Dangling beads from a gift otherwise mundane, is simply beautiful, believe me!
    • Don't bother going out to buy all those fancy "embellishments" everyone sells. I promise you that you have "embellishments" in your house already. You just have to learn to recognize them. You can use shells, pom poms, printed photographs, flower petals, pipe cleaners or fabric scraps to turn your gift into something special. Cut a heart(s) out of fabric scraps and glue to your package. Glue or tape shells onto your ribbon, print photographs and lay them across the package, or flatten flower petals and glue to the top of your gift package. Be creative, go wild!
    • Make your gifts personal to the recipient: I love to dig up a photo of the recipient, print it out (black and white is fine to save money!) and glue/tape it on the top of the gift. Simple and impressive. Always gets a giggle. If you don't have a photo of them, how about one silly one of you? Then draw or cut/paste a conversation bubble and--bingo!--there is your built in gift tag. Even a pic from your last trip or street shots can add a zing to your package.
    • Use fabric scraps, decorative paper, or plain ole' colorful magazines to cut out the initials or full name of your recipients. Glue them to package. You can also use pipe cleaners to bend the name into shape.
    • I save up all those little paint chip samples and go to town with them! I cut them into gift tags, cut shapes out of them, punch shapes in them, tape them together across a gift, etc. The possibilities are endless and--best of all--free, compliments of your local hardware store!
    • Invest in a few really nice punches. Punch shapes out of magazines, silver/gold paper, decorative or colored paper, paint chip samples, vellum paper--anything--and glue on the gift. For example, I have a gorgeous snowflake punch. I use regular brown bag (or any solid color) for wrapping paper and then punch out about 20 snowflakes (which takes about 40 seconds) and then glue them in various patterns on the gift. Beautiful!
    • Use brown bags to wrap a gift. Seriously. These are totally underrated. So many stores even have decorative brown bags for the holidays. How perfect is that? In the same vein, newspaper makes smart and witty wrapping. Cut out a headline relevant to your gift recipient and glue it on. Same goes with a picture. Draw/cut conversation bubbles and place next to a newspaper photo or personality. Coolness. What? You need more direction? Check out this quirky video (with another cute idea for a reindeer) here. Or you can check here for an Instructables demo--see even little kids are doing it!
    • Print out gift tags (so so many free on the internet) and glue them on top of your gift in leu of a bow/ribbon. You can also use them the traditional way, hanging them off the ribbon/yarn. For especially cool gift tags, see below, with link:  

    Click here for download by Mariposa Avenue.

    Click here for download from Orange You Lucky.

    Click here for download from Eat Drink Chic.

    These are super cute, and easy to cut out because of the thick border (and there are many more on their website!). I just printed them on white cardstock and write the To/From and a message on the back. Simple!

    Go here for download from We Love To Illustrate. 

    And now for my favorites! Beware: some are raunchy but perhaps you know the perfect recipient who will appreciate the humor/cynicism:

    Click here for downloads from ExBoyfriend.

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