The art of wrapping and presenting gifts is often lost in the rush of the season.
It is pretty well known that our lives have become more casual in the 21st century. While it is nice to drop some of the formalities of previous decades, some things that should not have been forgotten have been lost. One of these things is the presentation of gifts. Many people do not see the importance of intentionally wrapping and designating gifts. I have heard comments like “it’s just my family, they don’t care!” or “I’m not very creative” and as you can imagine, I disagree. Here are a few reasons why we should bring back the formality of presentation:
Beauty matters because it brings value to the ordinary. It shows us that life is special and meant to be enjoyed. I like to think of it as creating something that is “commensurate to [our] capacity for wonder”, as F. Scott Fitzgerald thoughtfully put it. As humans we are wired to wonder and be drawn to what is beautiful whether it is a vivid sunset, a lovely floral arrangement, or a kind and gentle smile, beauty enhances our experience of life. Therefore, why not add beauty to the things you do every day? Why not enjoy life just a little bit more?
It Honors the Recipient:
If someone asks you to dinner, it is polite and honorific for both yourself and your host to dress nicely. Presenting yourself in this way tells your host that you value their time and you want to honor the invitation by presenting beauty and intention. In the same way, presenting a gift honors the recipient because you took the time to make it beautiful. This action says to the recipient: You are worthy of beauty, love, honor, and the time it takes to cultivate these things. It does not matter if this person is your dearest friend or a stranger, everyone deserves to be honored in this way.
It Honors You:
Like it or not, gift-giving reflects you. If you give a lovely, and fitting gift (even if it is simple and inexpensive or handmade) you demonstrate that you are a thoughtful and intentional person who notices the interests of others. This reflects well upon you and your character because by honoring others you honor yourself.
It is Fun!
Wrapping and presenting gifts isn’t all philosophy, it’s fun too. I like to gather all my Christmas gifts and wrapping supplies, queue some festive jazz, and go to town! Beauty and intention do not equate to perfection (it’s the thought that counts, after all), so let go of that and focus on making something you would like to receive. Sometimes it can be helpful to look at a magazine or Pinterest for inspiration (or a blog like this!). You can also take inspiration from your surroundings like nature near your house or whatever fabric or craft scraps you may have to lay around.
Now, before you run to the store ready to buy $50 in wrapping paper and ribbon, keep reading.
How to wrap your Christmas gifts beautifully and Sustainably:
Did you know that we could wrap a bow around the earth with all the ribbons we use each Christmas? Making something beautiful does not need to be expensive or bad for the environment. There is a better way to give festive-looking gifts this year.
There are so many ways to do this but I chose what works best for you. I ordered recycled kraft paper made in the US as the canvas for my decorations and gift tags. This paper is a lovely neutral so you can go crazy adorning it with whatever inspires you. Kraft paper is also recyclable, compostable, and biodegrades much faster than Christmas wrap which is lined in plastic. Other alternatives to mainstream Christmas wrap include wrapping gifts in scarves, blankets, newspaper, reusable gift bags, fabric scraps, and much more!
Boxes and Bags:
Throughout the year, I keep some of the boxes from shipments and other purchases, like shoe boxes, to place gifts in before wrapping. I also want to encourage you to collect all the gift bags given to you throughout the year and reuse them for whatever cannot be wrapped.
The Gift Tags:
One of my favorite Christmas traditions has always been making gift tags with my mom. We love to use craft paper, recycled Christmas cards, stamps, and old glitter to make magical homemade tags for everyone to use. This year, wrapping gifts at my house, I used a Trader Joe’s paper bag and cut out some of the shapes for recycled tags that are still beautiful. On the pain paper side, I wrote to and from, and I displayed the patterned side face up on the gift, securing it with tape, hot glue, or twine. You can recreate this or make your own tags from pages of a destroyed book, newspaper, or recycled Christmas cards.
Instead of buying ribbon, I used recycled jute twine to tie my gifts after wrapping. Additionally, I used scraps of yarn leftover from various knitting projects as ribbons. You can also use fabric scraps, vines from the garden, or pieces of string.
A Note on Tape:
I try to use as little tape as I can when wrapping. Sometimes this means small pieces and other times I can get away with folding and pressing the paper under and over before adding one small piece of tape to secure at the end.
Decorating the Top:
This is the best and easiest part!
- I like to start by grabbing some natural things from outside: pinecones, holly, rosemary, small cedar or fir branches, eucalyptus, and sage to name a few.
- Next, let’s bring in some other elements: dried orange slices, salt ornaments, cranberries, popcorn, and any other festive thing you can think of!
- Wrap and tie your gifts however you like and then choose a few of your decorations to arrange together. For my gifts I did mostly holly and dried oranges, but also incorporated a few other elements. Be creative and let go of perfection and you will have a blast.
- Don’t forget to add a coordinating gift tag at the end.
This guide was so much fun for me to write and photograph, I hope you enjoyed it as well! Don’t ever forget that beauty does matter and you and your loved ones are worthy of the extra time it takes to create it. Merry Christmas!