Wrap it up.

My mother’s very good at wrapping presents.

My mother’s very good at everything, but that’s a dive into pathologies that we don’t have time for. We’re here today to talk about wrapping gifts. Wrapping is a dying art, and it’s dying from neglect. Few people take the time to wrap gifts anymore, and God forbid we add ribbons or flair.

The sharply pleated corner and scissor-curled ribbon have been replaced by the garish, tissue-topped gift bag. And while people took care with their presentation in the early days of gift bag ease, most got lazy with time. Graceful tissue leaves frothing forth from the tops of bags for all occasions gradually gave way to wads of crumpled up something.

I don’t like paisley.

In the early days of the gift bag, we still wrapped presents that were gift bag bound. The bag was an extra, not a replacement. Not these days. Before long, the gifts we spend minutes selecting from seasonal displays at the grocery store will be handed to the “lucky” recipients in the five-cent plastic bag the store grifts you on.

Sans card, of course, because we no longer care enough to send the very best.

Every happiness.  

Corporate logos that inspire guilt are the best.

“You gotta open the present now. It’s a homewarmer present.”

“Housewarming, Zoe corrected, and hooked her arm, the way she often did, around Simon’s shoulder. “A belated one, to welcome you back to the Valley.”

“Let’s see what we’ve got.” He undid the bow, feeling a bit foolish, since he already knew he would save the lacy white ribbon and the little spray of tiny red flowers she’d tucked into it. She’d stamped or stenciled silhouettes of those flowers on the simple brown box, and had nestled the gift inside on a bed of white tissue sprinkled with glitter.

“You sure know how to wrap a present.”

“If you’re going to give somebody a gift, you should take the time to make it look nice.”

Key of Valor, Nora Robert. [i]


Wrapping paper, while lovely, is unrecyclable. I’ve always hated the waste, but I’ve never been a fan of using newsprint. It’s periodically recommended as a green technique in this article or that, but I hate touching the stuff. I can feel it sucking the moisture from my skin when I do. Luckily, you can now buy wrap and decorative paraphernalia that blue bags and compost bins are happy to receive. They’re even attractive, a step up from the unwieldy and ugly offerings available in the early days of wrapping green.

Tissue paper is another blue bag no-go. It’s usually made from recycled paper: it’s already had its second trip ‘round the sun. And while gift bags can be reused, once they start to look worn, it’s to the landfill they go.

Unless you buy the brown craft paper ones. I buy them at the dollar store, six for two dollars. I decorate them with ink stamps, stickers and ribbons, so they’re unique as well as blue bin friendly. They also make my cheap heart sing. [ii]

Fabric bags are an alternative go-to for some, but they don’t work for me. I like crisp lines: it’s why I find fabric “paper” a little weird. The finished packages look like bundles people carry on their heads while escaping from floods.

I’m not a fan.

Sometimes, I’m tempted to shop and wrap like I don’t give a damn. It would save me time and money, and I’m not sure people appreciate gifts or effort anymore. It’s a whole lot of “thank you, next,” paired with a lack of reciprocal action.

It’s not about reciprocity. It’s about balance. It’s also moot. I tried half-assing gift acquisition and wrap, but I can’t. Imagined criticisms from my mother aside, I’d find the consequences of being petty and inauthentic unfortunate (definitely not the voice of experience).

After all, if you’re going to do something, do it well. [iii]

header credit: earth.com


[i] My favourite author, in case I haven’t mentioned it before. “Ride or die” favourite: even if not every book is the best, she remains the GOAT. My favourite to the end. This is starting to sound a little over-the-top. It’s not like I’m a number one fan.

[ii] “Unique” is what polite people say when something is ugly.

[iii] This isn’t true all the time, but an equivocal close is weak. I often do things less well than I optimally could. Like laundry. If you’re going to do something, do it well, unless it’s something that doesn’t require all of your best. Or if you have a cold.

14 thoughts on “Wrap it up.

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  1. I’ve just stopped giving gifts, except to my baby niece, in which case it’s reused gift bag and tissue paper. Her birthday is coming up and she’ll probably get her gift in a Christmas gift bag. I’m glad I’m okay with not caring, because caring doesn’t come easily (if at all) these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard when the caring is eating away by the apathy but you still have to fake it. In this way, I’ve found the pandemic to be quite helpful. I like giving to kids – they’re appreciative (I sound like such an old grump lol).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Guess I will be honest in my comment even though it might unnerve you. I use the comic of the new paper to wrap kids gifts. My grandchildren love it and save it to read. It’s already paid for and I am into saving money. Like you I hate the waste of wrapping paper so I am at the dollar store a lot for this kind of stuff, cheaper. I mean they might need the extra money to kill of the rats. I am not into expensive cards either. A lot of times I use brown paper and write whatever I would write on the paper on why I bought this present for that person. I like to do unique ways of wrapping. And by now at 75 I am known for that kind of thing. I don’t apologize as I watch the wrapping paper get thrown in the trash and the card. I always wonder how much money gets thrown away in those card meant as the gift. I try to remember to say, check all those cards. Maybe I have lived too long, seen too much to appreciate frills. I know I am too practical and so sometimes I splurge and wrap a present with glittery paper, with a glittery bow and a Hallmark card…well…I said I was honest, not the Hallmark card, Dollar Store card, two for a dollar. If my grandchild is out of high school and going to college I give money, they love me and alway thank me. They are appreciate it because for the first time they have to borrow tons of money to go to school and pay it back, good lessons. One more thing, appreciation is in short supply now days so I will stick to my way of wrapping and not expect it so I won’t be disappointed and enjoy life. Good thoughts,,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My issue with the newsprint is a tactile one: certain sensations give me the shudders lol. Your grandkids are lucky, and no doubt very appreciative. I loved getting a card from my great-aunt while at university, with a lovely update and a helpful cheque. Though I think it’s a shame people don’t save cards. I keep them all, some forever, and some for crafts. Thanks for reading and commenting 💖

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  3. I’m a bad wrapper, but really great at package ornaments. No one notices the bad wrapping because of it. And I’m fine with newsprint or brown paper or other relatives, but gift bags are an extra gift. They’re the best. I’m going to work on the tissue paper placement.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fabric wrapped? That’s just weird.

    My mom was the best gift-wrapper. I told her every single time that it was a waste to wrap and then put in a bag. ‘Just put it in the bag. Unwrapped,’ I’d say. I now wonder if that ever made her sad that she put so much work into it and I could not care less… I’m nowhere near good at wrapping so in a bag it goes. But I’m also terrible at making the tissue paper look good…

    As far as recycling is concerned – we would always delicately open the gifts and save the wrapping (and/bags) for next time. There would be different sizes and types and you’d have to check what matches next time you needed it. If it ripped, you cut that bit off. I particularly loved the paper that would not rip and that releases the tape without even making a spot. But I remember it being less malleable while wrapping.

    A couple of years ago, I received a gift in a box and I thought it was a great idea. It was easy to put together by the gifter and it was easy for me to take apart to get to the gift. Afterward, I ended up using the box as a storage bin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that you had a collection of assorted, gently-used wrap. I’m a gentle-opener most of the time, though that older wrap (yeah, it was hard to bend lol) held up better.
      Boxes are another great idea.

      Liked by 1 person

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