Friday, December 18, 2015

How to wrap

Last year’s wrapping went so well, I wanted to share.

Maybe you enjoy wrapping. Maybe you enjoy a little bit of wrapping? Great. But if it becomes a chore, here is a foolproof method that, for me, makes even a large amount of wrapping sort of enjoyable. The key is to automate the process,
get on the assembly line and make some progress, no need to think or reinvent the wheel.
Automation eliminates one of the pain points in wrapping: making a thousand little decisions. What kind of paper? How much? Which ribbon? How much? Where are the scissors? Where is the tape? Where is a pen? How do I attach this gift tag? Aarrrghhhh!
Of course, it also has to look nice in the end, and I was pleased with the outcome. Here is what worked:
I used one big roll of recycled/recyclable paper and one big, inexpensive roll of ribbon, twine, or yarn. You could combine a few mix-and-match papers and ribbons. But the goal is no decisions: everything goes with everything.


I sorted my items up by recipient. Each recipient got a designated pile/bag.
Have your paper, ribbon, scissors, and tape to hand. That’s all you need.
Tags are a problem that can confuse the process and slow it down. They are just another thing to keep track of, another decision to make, so I suggest you do without them at first (see below for an alternate method). If you opt for tags, add them in after you get the basic system down. You can streamline your tag system later. (In other words, if you opt for tags, yes, you will need a tag SYSTEM.)


Start with the recipient who has the biggest pile.
Start with the biggest item in the pile. Why?
Well, best to just do, not think too hard about it, but the reason is that the big pieces of wrapping paper are the hardest to come by. Use the big pieces first and you will have scraps left over at the end that are the perfect size for the smaller items. It’s fast, efficient, and the best way to save paper. Also, if you start with the biggest, it gets easier and faster as you go. Bonus!


For this step you will need only 
  • paper
  • tape
  • scissors
How much paper? An age-old question. Here’s how I solved it: Take the item and unroll plenty of paper. You will want to make it so that the paper goes all the way around one circumference of the item. Leave enough room at top and bottom to cover the sides of your item (visualize the width of the item cut in half) and cut your paper from the roll in one swift move.
Cut your paper ALL THE WAY ACROSS. I give you permission. This is the ONLY way to go.  If there is one thing you take away from this article it should be this: ALWAYS CUT RECTANGULAR PIECES OF PAPER. None of this “L” shaped stuff! Ever! CUT STRAIGHT, NO SHAPES!
Keeping rectangles eliminates another pain point: having weird sizes of paper. Nothing is every wrapped in an “L” shaped piece of paper. Nothing. Cut it all the way across. Zip! No wrestling, no turning corners with the scissors, just cut once and conserve. Just do it.
If your resulting paper is too long, cut again to trim. Use the smaller rectangle later for a smaller item. It’s freeing and it feels awesome. You’ll love it.
Now place your item upside down on your appropriately-sized paper, join the sides of the paper at the middle of the item, and tape. Fold down the ends and tape (there are really cool ways to do these ends, but style doesn’t really matter here, just do your best and move on). Done.
For odd shaped items, just PRETEND that they are rectangular, carry on by ignoring the rough edges, and do the best you can. With plenty of paper and tape, anything is possible! (Or use a bag, see below.)
Now do the same for the next biggest item.
And so on. Bam! Do all your paper at once. You have just wrapped a whole stack of gifts. Be sure to keep your wrapped gifts sorted back in each recipient's bag since now you can't tell so much what they are anymore. IMPORTANT!


Now the to/from part so you know whom each package goes to (they will probably be able to tell from the wrapping who it comes from).  
For this I used large letter stamps. You could use traditional to/from tags if you figure out a way to mass-produce your own: count the number of gifts, make that number of tags, and attach. You could even make the tags first and attach them in the same step as tying the ribbon.
But here is what I did: I took my large letter stamp and stamped each package with the initial of the recipient. Stamp, stamp, stamp. This is quick!

While I am stamping the packages I also stamped a couple of pieces of cardboard so I had tags to attach to presents that were not wrapped with paper. For example, presents wrapped in reusable pillow-case gift bags. Stick the odd-shaped item in the bag, attach a reusable letter tag, and done. Use the same tag/bag again next year. Yay!


Now the ribbon. Similar deal to the paper. Take the largest package first.
For this you will need 
  • ribbon 
  • scissors
no tape (one less thing to keep track of).
How much ribbon? Here is my quick and dirty way to determine: take a length of ribbon and run it along the longest side of your package. If your package is a cube, or close to it, run out enough to cover that length 8 times (being generous so as to leave enough for a bow). If your package is flat, 4 to 5 lengths should be enough. You can visualize each side of the package and estimate the length as you go. Count out loud if you’d like: front, back, side, side, bottom, top, side, side. Be sure to overestimate and be generous and you will have enough for a bow. If you are not sure, add another length’s worth for the bow. The amount of ribbon wasted will pale in comparison to time saved. Your estimation abilities will improve with practice. Having too much is always better than too little.
Find the center of your piece of ribbon. Place the center of the ribbon on the top, center of your package. Wrap around to back, cross, and return to front. Tie a bow around the starting point. Done.
Before you know it, you have a stack of presents stamped with initials and wrapped with ribbon. Voilá! Now isn't that festive?

1 comment:

Mom said...

I don't cut the ribbon until it's around the package. Only then do I free it from the spool or hank. No waste!

I find that the packing material wrapped around items that have been shipped can be recycled as wrapping paper. Iron it flat with a fairly hot iron. (Be sure no plastic is involved!)

Some people cut out interesting portions of old Christmas cards to use as to and from tags. This is a nice project to do, say, on New Year's day, sitting in front of the fire, punching holes in each tag, all ready for the following Christmas.

When all your packages look alike, you've established a personal style that also says who the package is from.