Traipsing round the crowded shops then lugging home your bags is only half of the job – next you have to tackle the wrapping!
For many people, this is a dreaded chore and something best done as rapidly as possible.
But a beautifully-wrapped gift can actually be part of the pleasure of Christmas.
“Just imagine the person’s face lighting up when you give them the gift,” says Julie Domican, who works in visual merchandising at John Lewis.
Selected John Lewis stores around the UK offer professional wrapping services, for gifts purchased in store, which will be flooded with business during the festive period.
“It’s a real mix of people who use the wrapping service,” says Domican. “Men, women, all ages, often people who simply don’t have time to wrap something themselves but want it to look special.”
With a little time and creativity, it’s possible to achieve an expert-quality finish at home, too.
Domican suggests making the wrapping itself a bit of an event, so that it doesn’t feel like a dreaded chore.
“If you’ve got a big pile of presents to get through, spread the wrapping up over a few nights,” she says. “Put on a CD and make it enjoyable. You can get the family involved or get friends round and make an evening of it – so long as people aren’t wrapping up their own gifts!”
First, you need to shop for your supplies.
“Choose your paper and your ribbons etc,” says Domican. “Make sure everything matches nicely, or if you want to go for multiple colours, make sure they go well together.”
You’ll also need a suitable pair of scissors, and a clear, solid surface to work on. A table is ideal, or you may prefer to sit on the floor. It may be a good idea to lay a protective sheet to avoid scraping precious surfaces.
Domican recommends using double-sided tape, for a really professional finish – as the tape won’t be visible on the outside.
Failing that, tape that comes in a dispenser will make the job a lot easier than having to snip off pieces of sticky-tape as you go.
- Snowflake gift wrap (3m), £3, John Lewis
- Gift wrap ‘Traditional’ multi pack, £5, Boots
- ‘Yuletide Treasure’ wrap pack, £5, Sainsbury’s
- Caroline Gardner Christmas trees luxury wrapping paper, £2.40 per sheet, www.carolinegardner.com and various stockists nationwide
- Caroline Gardner Christmas jumper pattern luxury wrapping paper, £2.40 per sheet, www.carolinegardner.com and various stockists nationwide
- Vintage Disney wrapping paper, £3.99, Butlers (www.butlers-online.co.uk)
TUCK AND TRIM
To work out how much paper you need per item, Domican says the general rule is to place the gift on the paper – with enough paper on all sides to fold over the top, and overlap by at least an inch.
“After folding one side of the paper over, if you’re using double-sided tape you’ll then be able to place the tape along the outside edge of the paper, and fold the other side of the paper over the top and stick it down,” she says.
To tape down the remaining paper at the top and bottom, start by gently pushing the paper down onto the gift (the side with the taped seam), then fold the two sides next to it down, trimming and tucking any stray edges until you have a neat triangle which you can press down.
“Cylinders can be done in a similar way,” says Domican. “When wrapping awkward shapes, the best trick is to pop the gift into a box first, which you can then wrap, or buy a gift box and fill it with shredded tissue paper, or a nice gift bag.
“If you do want to wrap the gifts, choose a busy, patterned paper rather than a plain one. The pattern will distort over the awkward edges and they’ll look better.”
- Festive Snowflake gift bags, £5, Traidcraft (www.traidcraftshop.co.uk)
- Set of 3 gingerbread gift bags, £1, Poundland
- Snowflake gift box, £1, Wilkinson
- Cross stitch gift box, £6, John Lewis
- ‘Let is snow for Christmas’ gift bag, £3, John Lewis
Now for the fun part! Wrapping your gifts tidily is just part of the job – the finishing touches are what will make them look really special.
Even a simple ribbon or bow will look effective – or you can get even more creative and add little extras.
“To make presents extra special I put chocolates in little gift bags and attach them to the ribbon,” says Domican. “You can do the same with little trinkets, perhaps a little key-ring, just to add an extra, personal touch. Pretty baubles also work well – these will look good and form part of the gift.”
Making your presents look special doesn’t have to cost the earth, either.
“I used to collect pinecones from walks, and I’d glue a bit of glitter on them then attach them to my gifts as an added decoration,” says Domican. “It barely cost anything but looked very effective.”
- Christmas ribbon (3m), £2.99, Orchard Cards (www.orchardcards.co.uk)
- Red polka dot ribbon (5m), £4.99, Drift Living (www.driftliving.co.uk)
- Purple bows, £1, Poundland
- Assorted ribbons and trim, £1, Poundland
- Red pom pom string (2.5m) £4, John Lewis
- 30-pack handcrafted gift tags, £1, Poundland
- Set of 9 Meri Meri ‘Merry and Bright’ character boxes, £8, John Lewis
- Set of 5 Meri Meri reindeer gift tags, £6.50, John Lewis