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The sharply pleated corner and scissor-curled ribbon have been replaced by the garish, tissue-topped gift bag.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.
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.
“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.
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.