This changes everything
December 10, 2014 9:33 AM   Subscribe

How to wrap Christmas (or whatever) presents in under 30 seconds. a/k/a You've Been Doing it Wrong the Whole Time (slyt)
posted by Curious Artificer (121 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
And suddenly… all my life is there, wasted.
posted by ji at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


wrap boxes maybe, but you won't get me sticking tape to the actual present inside like that!
though i might still pick up some tips from that, i'm pretty terrible at wrapping...
(if that's what they're doing... maybe it just looks that way?)
posted by thingonaspring at 9:38 AM on December 10, 2014


But, but it's all off-center, and there's tape on the box, and ...

No. No, this won't do. Old, stupid way for me, please.
posted by penduluum at 9:40 AM on December 10, 2014 [18 favorites]


Not wrong, just different. Why can't these life hacker guys understand that?
posted by bondcliff at 9:41 AM on December 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Drop present into gift bag - 1 second
posted by octothorpe at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2014 [51 favorites]


When they can show me how to wrap an asymmetrical blister-packed action figure in 30 seconds, I'll pay attention. Right now, the boxes are not giving me problems.
posted by gladly at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2014 [28 favorites]


Note that this only works if you already have wrapping paper that is exactly the appropriate size for the box you are wrapping. And 75% of my problem is eyeballing the area of paper needed and cutting it straight, the unfortunate events of wrapping the box is only like 25% at most.
posted by graymouser at 9:45 AM on December 10, 2014 [67 favorites]


This reminds me of 'how to fold a t-shirt in 3 seconds' (or whatever) videos. WOW! Awesome! Let me try that! Okay, let me try that again... Alright, almost have it, I'll try it again... Twenty minutes later... Okay, I think I have it now...

Two weeks later - what was the trick for folding a t-shirt in 3 seconds (or whatever)... Fuck, I forget... I should look up that youtube video again... No, actually, I shouldn't - I should go back to the inefficient way of folding t-shirts that I remember.
posted by el io at 9:46 AM on December 10, 2014 [18 favorites]


Yeah, this is like that "peel a bunch of garlic cloves" thing where it only works if the skin of the garlic is at the point where it's easy to peel anyway. Anyone can wrap a small-ish rectangle box using too much wrapping paper in under a minute.
posted by bondcliff at 9:47 AM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Note that this only works if you already have wrapping paper that is exactly the appropriate size for the box you are wrapping

Yep, most of my time wrapping is cutting the paper, usually crooked. And then it being too big still, so I have to cut it again, and I do a crappy job, and then I have to fix it all with tape.

Give almost anyone a piece of wrapping paper sized correctly for the box, they'll probably wrap it quickly. That's why professional wrapping services always have a quick way to cut the paper to size.
posted by smackfu at 9:51 AM on December 10, 2014


Wrapping presents is only difficult and time-consuming if you care how it looks.

It helps to remind yourself that no gift recipient in all of human history has ever stopped to admire the skill and care that went into the wrapping. Nobody looks at wrapping paper except to assess where best to grab it to start ripping it to bits. So, in short, to wrap presents even easier than this:

1.) get a much larger piece of wrapping paper than you probably need;
2.) ball the paper up around the gift until the gift is more or less obscured;
3.) enwind with tape.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:51 AM on December 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


Or.. just put in an Amazon, or other non identifiable box. Close lid.


bam
posted by edgeways at 9:53 AM on December 10, 2014


It helps to remind yourself that no gift recipient in all of human history has ever stopped to admire the skill and care that went into the wrapping. Nobody looks at wrapping paper except to assess where best to grab it to start ripping it to bits.

This is so counter to every experience I have ever had growing up ( THE WRAPPING IS WHAT MAKES IT A PRESENT) that I have no response save dumb confusion. If you're not going to put in the effort then why wrap it at all?
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 AM on December 10, 2014 [45 favorites]


Wrapping presents is only difficult and time-consuming if you care how it looks.

Is this some sort of Dr Who quantum event type of thing? I do care how it looks and as a result my presents will be difficult to wrap, take ages and are also bound to come out looking bad? All the evidence does tend to support your point I guess. Its a tough universe.
posted by biffa at 9:57 AM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, half the fun of Christmas is seeing all the carefully color coordinated and candy-like boxes sitting under the tree for a few days before hand! *starts breathing into a bag*
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 AM on December 10, 2014 [46 favorites]


This is no quicker than the 'normal' way, and the thing looks weird at the end.. The improvement here is starting with a pre-cut sheet of paper, rather than a roll. Let me start with a sheet and I'll wrap a perfectly rectanbgular package in like ten seconds, and it won't be all kittywhampus.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:59 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, if you have pre-cut sheets of wrapping paper appropriately sized for the same uniform box, then sure...you can do it that way.

However, whenever I wrap presents at the last minute every box is a different size and my wrapping paper comes on one of several half-used giant rolls of wrapping paper. So, I recommend the following:

1. Place roll of wrapping paper on floor and unfurl about a square meter.
2. Place gift on top of unfurled roll and try to estimate the cut line that will give you the perfect amount of wrapping paper.
3. Go find scissors and forget where that line is.
4. Try to do that thing you do once a year where you half open the scissors and cut the paper by smoothly sliding it across the paper. Right when you think you will make it, you will snag it half way. Plow forward anyway.
5. Fold the long end over and masking tape that in place.
6. Fold other long end over. It won't make it, so just sort of squeeze the gap closed. You can also slide in a transplant sliver of wrapping paper to fill the gap (hopefully from the same roll).
7. Now, you push in one of the short ends. Try and make triangle things. The first triangle will go fairly smoothly. The next one will be way too long. Fold it over to hide your mistake and then apply lots of masking tape. It will be lumpy and uneven.
8. Now turn the gift on end. It will slide down to the end you just folded up and sort of mash some of the lumps down.
9. You will notice that after it slid down you have way too much wrapping paper on the open end forming a long rectangular tube. Try to trim it off in place. You will find that you can not make a straight cut across this rectangular tube because it is an infuriating mobius strip and will never ever meet back on itself. Just try to get close and tear the rest off.
10. Try to do the triangle lump thing again. You will have way too little this time, so once again masking tape and transplant slivers (hopefully from the same roll).
11. Now you have to cover up your mistakes. First, use ribbon to tie everything together and hold things in place. Make lots of tight knots. Then, you need to find a giant bow to distract the recipient. Don't worry that the sticky backer thing was unpeeled and now covered in fuzz, no one will notice a little more masking tape at this point.
12. Oh, and before you start all this make sure you remember what you are wrapping so you don't forget at the end and have to start everything over again.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:59 AM on December 10, 2014 [57 favorites]


This video of the same technique does it step-by-step and is less about time-saving than paper-saving.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]



It helps to remind yourself that no gift recipient in all of human history has ever stopped to admire the skill and care that went into the wrapping


WRONG, the wrongest, the most wrong. I hiss angrily at all the packages I get from my friend Mai because she uses terrible dark magicks to make them look like professionally styled vogue photoshoot presents whilst mine look wrapped by a small sticky child who has just had their first espresso.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2014 [100 favorites]


That garlic thing actually works, it is just difficult to get the skins out of the jar. Also it is tiring.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:02 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


After working at a bookstore for many years, I've pretty much perfected the art of wrapping anything boxed or book-shaped. This method is inelegant for a couple reasons: not only does he stick tape to the gift itself (a big no-no in the book biz) but he also uses more than one piece of tape, which while not catastrophic, shows a lack of taste and discipline that I personally would not be comfortable displaying to the world as the "correct way to wrap a gift".
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:05 AM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Gift bags, people. Done and done.
posted by eriko at 10:08 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved this post. Not because of the video (I liked Sys Rq's version), but because of y'all's comments. For years I hid my shame of my lack of wrapping skills. I thought it was just me. Now I have come to realize that the exceptions are the folks who can wrap neatly and quickly not us use the Sunday comic page for gift wrap folks. Thank you all.
posted by 724A at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2014


GIFT BAGS ARE NOT PERSONAL SO THEY'RE FINE FOR LIKE YOUR BOSS OR THE MAILMAN.

I have no many opinions about this apparently.
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


metafilter: it won't be all kittywhampus
posted by el io at 10:15 AM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I love wrapping presents (it's just so satisfying! And picking out ribbon and a gift tag that matches just right!), but it is becoming increasingly evident that I am in the extreme minority on that score.
posted by quaking fajita at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


My family keeps the gift bags every year, to be perpetually reused. Some of them clearly have To: From: tags that are 5 stickers thick from sticking new ones over the old. I'm a person who loves wrapped presents and I harbor a secret desire to toss them all every year to encourage everyone to wrap, but I know they would just buy more gift bags. I'm not saying it ruins Christmas but it maybe ruins Christmas a little.

(I do still use gift bags sometimes because like hell I'm gonna wrap the big pile of samples Sephora sent with mom's perfume, those are clearly the acceptable use-case for gift bags)
posted by almostmanda at 10:18 AM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


You don't need to estimate the amount of paper; you can use the box to measure it directly. (Assuming the box is regular and not huge.)

1. Place an end of the box on a corner of the unrolled paper, and move it a little away from the corner, diagonally. This last will provide overlap.

2. Tip the box on its side, parallel to the edge of the paper.

3. Mark or cut the paper, perpendicular to the edge of the paper and next to the end of the box away from the starting corner.

4. Roll the box away from the edge of the paper, until all four sides have rested on the paper. (Three flops of the box.)

5. Mark the paper at the corner of the box farthest from the corner of the paper where you started.

6. Mark the end of the paper at a point that lines up with the the other end of the side of the box where you marked in 5.

7. Remove the box, connect the marks with lines, and cut along the lines.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:18 AM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


No, no, no. I professionally gift wrapped part time as my high school job at a snazzy local store and I can't believe he taped to the package, skipped the key step of cutting the paper to the right size and pretended it is sufficient to add paper, sans bow, to complete a wrapping job. Also paper is much prettier when you respect the pattern by wrapping without turning the box askew.

I'd add I can do a traditional wrap with neat ends that doesn't skew the paper pattern, and add ribbon and a very pretty handmade bow in minutes. It's just practice, as I love this particular craft. I also love people like The Whelk who savor the charm of nicely wrapped packages with surprises inside.
posted by bearwife at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


how to gift wrap a package:

1. Put in a box.
2. Send it to bearwife with a small amount of cash for bribing and shipping.
3. Hope bearwife sends it back to you.
posted by el io at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Reminds me of these factory workers packaging playing cards.
posted by msbrauer at 10:29 AM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Don't tempt me! I love doing the wrapping.
posted by bearwife at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll admit that my technique is generally to click the "this is a gift" checkbox on the website that I'm buying the thing from.
posted by octothorpe at 10:33 AM on December 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Honestly if you set yourself up as a fancy seasonal wrapping business I bet you could make a killing.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:34 AM on December 10, 2014


I am totally imagining that I can tell from the comments which ones of you have gift-wrapping rooms inside your stately homes.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I used to make decent pocket money wrapping Christmas presents for friends and family when I was a tween and I was pretty good at it. It was fine until my mum started paying me to wrap my own presents (true story).
posted by angiep at 10:39 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


when i was growing up in a very holiday gift oriented family, the gift wrapping room was called "The Attic" from January through October. From November thru December it was called "Don't go upstairs nosing around".
posted by sio42 at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


One time I bought the mylar shiny wrapping paper. NEVER AGAIN.
posted by smackfu at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Gift wrap is a huge waste of resources. Better to lay all of your gifts out on a tarp and use a paint sprayer to decorate them. You'll save time and never have a recipient return a gift to the store.
posted by orme at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


Yeah, this is like that "peel a bunch of garlic cloves" thing where it only works if the skin of the garlic is at the point where it's easy to peel anyway.

The garlic trick surfaced the summer when my basil grew to the size of a hedge. Believe me, it works, I made 21 batches of pesto that day.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2014


It helps to remind yourself that no gift recipient in all of human history has ever stopped to admire the skill and care that went into the wrapping.

You have never met my family, clearly. To be properly wrapped, the ends must all point down and be folded under (pointy bits are bad feng shui or something- who knows?), the ribbon must be expensively informal or old fashioned, and preferably fabric, not plastic, and the bows should have twigs and pinecones and flowers or small ornaments stuck into the knot in a tasteful way.

My husband's family wraps their presents willy nilly in the 15 minutes before gift time, with tape all over the place and no ribbon at all, usually. Since they give zillions of tiny, worthless presents, like packets of 10 Kleenexes for your purse, they sort of have to skip The Art of Wrapping.

EDIT: Here is a pinterest board whose owner shares aesthetics not too far from my birth family's (on both sides, no less!). Especially, the bit about putting plants into every bow ever.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:57 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


My father's usual gift wrapping technique was to hand you an unwrapped gift and say "Here, pretend this is wrapped".
posted by octothorpe at 11:01 AM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I've already forgotten how to do this, thus ensuring that I'll try it, botch it, curse the internet, and go back to the old way.
posted by punchee at 11:06 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of (and could very well be) the gift wrappers at the Japanese department/grocery stores I frequented. They were wrapping omiyage, the totally voluntary souvenirs purchased for coworkers while traveling. The gifts were locally relevant, usually edible, usually unpleasant to my barbarous palate, usually more expensive than necessary, and usually scarfed down in seconds by the other teachers in the break room over cups of tepid green tea between drags of Lucky 7s.

But watching them wrap the gifts was mesmerizing. I'm pretty sure that video has been slowed down significantly because in my memory the process began with an unwrapped box that disappeared in a frenzied blur and reappeared perfectly wrapped and slightly smoking. I've long tried to recreate the process with predictable results.

Still, I keep trying to wrap presents because otherwise the recipient won't have anything to unwrap. This is why gift bags are reserved for people you don't like: so you can rob them of the pleasure of receiving the gift and disappoint them with a gift card to a place you like to shop and they've never heard of.
posted by malthusan at 11:13 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


you won't get me sticking tape to the actual present inside like that!

No tape goes on the present itself in the video. Both pieces used are on overlapping sections of wrapping paper.
posted by MUD at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


in under 15 seconds. This is one of those things that I could watch someone do for several hours straight.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:18 AM on December 10, 2014


One time I bought the mylar shiny wrapping paper. NEVER AGAIN.

Be sure to avoid the glittery-textured kind also. Unless you like glitter everywhere the paper touches or the package rests.

My mom-taught method for wrapping:
  1. Put edge of box where you plan to do the box fold at the outer (opposite the roll) edge of a few feet of unrolled paper.
  2. Pull end of paper up against the box side until it's about halfway, maybe a smidge more. That's how much you need to do a fairly nice envelope fold.
  3. Measure paper to the same length on the other side where the other box fold will be. This is where you make your horizontal cut parallel to the roll. If your scissors snag, they are dull. Cut more slowly or get better scissors. You can also use one of those box-knifey things, but put down cardboard under the paper first.
  4. Now you wrap the cut paper around the long sides of the box. Too much? Then start at the edge of the paper and roll it once. That tells you where to make your longways cut. Cut there. Too much is better than too little in this case. You can always trim.
  5. Tape the seam in place. If it is ragged, you make it less ugly by folding the edge under then taping it down. Fewer pieces of tape=better, really OCD types use double sided tape because they have no life. So long as the tape side is the "bottom" you are good.
  6. Fold in your box ends. You can slide the package a little inside its tube if it's not quite centered. If you made the tube too long, do one nice box end, tape it down, push the box up hard against it to keep it in shape, and trim the tube from the other end. It will probably be ugly, but again, you can fold some of the ragged edges if you have to.
  7. Put on a bow, ribbons, whatever.

It doesn't work for GIANT or odd shaped boxes, and you tend to end up with a lot of pieces of paper not quite big or small enough for anything.

(I use gift bags. Life is short; also I feel virtuous about recycling.)
posted by emjaybee at 11:21 AM on December 10, 2014


And 75% of my problem is eyeballing the area of paper needed and cutting it straight, the unfortunate events of wrapping the box is only like 25% at most.

When I was a little kid, most of the presents I'd wrap had an extra piece of paper stuck on haphazardly because I hadn't cut QUITE enough for the first attempt, and this lasted up through now I'm still doing it now I said the little kid thing to make it seem like it was the past but it is how i live my adult life and no one can stop me you cant stop me not even an intervention with my loved ones crying can stop me I will just turn around and walk out using one thumb hooked over my shoulder to point to the logo and motto on the back of my leather jacket
SLOPPY WRAPPER BOYZ
RIDE OR DIE

posted by Greg Nog at 11:22 AM on December 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


I appreciate a nicely wrapped present (and I think I do a fairly decent job myself), but the trash bags full of wrapping paper on Christmas morning also bother me a lot. It's a dilemma.

Also, what do you do with all the extra paper trimmings after you've wrapped your gift? I use parts of them for gift tags, but we still have an empty wrapping paper tube full of little scraps that feel wasteful to get rid of but I can't figure out a use for them.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The best wrapped gift I ever received was from my brother. It was in a large cardboard tube, at least four feet long, with both ends stuffed with wads of wrapping paper. Something was wedged smack in the center of the tube, and it took me a good five minutes to retrieve it. That thing was a folded-up piece of paper that read, "Look under the table!" where the actual gift had been taped out of sight.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


Fun* variation on To/From tags: Instead of using those separate sticky labels, make them yourself by taking a scrap of the wrapping paper you used to wrap the present, and fold it in half so the pattern is on the outside and the white is on the inside. Write To/From information on the inside. Tape it to the package along the folded edge of the tag, taking extreme care to make sure the pattern on the tag exactly lines up with the pattern on the gift wrapping. Watch in amusement as the person distributing the presents struggles to find the tag. Bonus points if they claim there's no tag on the present.

*By which I mean fun for you, annoying for everyone else, of course.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:28 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


No no no, you make the gift tags out of last year's cards.
posted by quaking fajita at 11:30 AM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, what do you do with all the extra paper trimmings after you've wrapped your gift? I use parts of them for gift tags, but we still have an empty wrapping paper tube full of little scraps that feel wasteful to get rid of but I can't figure out a use for them.

I crumple the bigger pieces up and use them instead of tissue paper to make the gift bags I am forced to use look less depressing.
posted by almostmanda at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I ALWAYS tape the initial edge of the wrapping paper to the gift and I don't care how wrong it is. Otherwise the paper slides around while I'm off attending to the other sides of the box and gets all loose and uneven and stupid-looking.
posted by anderjen at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have always considered myself not a very good present-wrapper and worried about my presents not looking pretty, but based on the comments on this article I am clearly in the top 10% of present-wrappers and I will NEVER GIVE IT ANOTHER THOUGHT.

Thanks, MetaFilter!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:38 AM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


> It helps to remind yourself that no gift recipient in all of human history has ever stopped to admire the skill and care that went into the wrapping.

They're out there. You've probably just ignored them your entire life.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:43 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


From the 'wrapping is half the gift' school of thought. Using no selotape so that the paper is unblemished and can be used again is the elite level. Obviously the string or ribbon has to be coordinated with the paper, extra marks for complementary paper colour to gift or colour coding wrapping per recipient so no labels are required. Labels should be individually written with puns that hint at the gift, so that the recipient should be able to try guessing before unwrapping. Paper is not reused within the family, unless it is part of the hint about the contents or some other cunning reason. It does tend to make it all more of a fun adventure at present opening in my opinion. Having spent time with families who choose to wrap cheap and easily tearable for maximum unwrapping speed, there is a sense of deflation when the frenzy is over and all you have is merchandise and mess remaining. YMMV
posted by asok at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


No no no, sewing your own gift bags is the way to be. It takes an hour or two to make a great pile of them. People are impressed by something that's not wrapped in something disposable. And after a couple of years, there is a critical mass of them out in the world and they start coming back to you, so that the amount of sewing required decreases every year.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:46 AM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


obsessive concern with packaging ruins Christmas. you're only happy if i spend three hours crying real tears as i agonize over wrapping something you're going to invest all of four seconds tearing into? humbug, i say.
posted by echocollate at 11:52 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


i just put my presents inside a giant oyster shell for 100 years and then give out giant pearls containing sadly outdated presents within
posted by poffin boffin at 11:52 AM on December 10, 2014 [12 favorites]




you're only happy if i spend three hours crying real tears as i agonize over wrapping something you're going to invest all of four seconds tearing into? humbug, i say.

It's the same thing as cooking! A roast duck takes hours to make and a half hour to eat but you wouldn't say making a special meal was humbug and we should all quietly drink soylent while handing each other amazon gift cards
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


If you have Thoughts About Wrapping, you may want to answer my question over in Ask.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obviously the string or ribbon has to be coordinated with the paper, extra marks for complementary paper colour to gift or colour coding wrapping per recipient so no labels are required. Labels should be individually written with puns that hint at the gift, so that the recipient should be able to try guessing before unwrapping. Paper is not reused within the family, unless it is part of the hint about the contents or some other cunning reason. It does tend to make it all more of a fun adventure at present opening in my opinion.

Ugh, that sounds horrible. I would never show up at christmas if those were requirements for gift-giving. Present buying is stressful enough as it is, why make it even worse by forcing you to make each one into a witty perfectly color-coordinated puzzle?
posted by octothorpe at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2014


I wrap all my presents in marzipan or fruit leather. It's very forgiving.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Metawrapping: function over form, clearly.
posted by clavdivs at 12:02 PM on December 10, 2014


we should all quietly drink soylent while handing each other amazon gift cards

look if you don't like my party ideas i won't invite you next time
posted by backseatpilot at 12:02 PM on December 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


It helps to remind yourself that no gift recipient in all of human history has ever stopped to admire the skill and care that went into the wrapping. Nobody looks at wrapping paper except to assess where best to grab it to start ripping it to bits.

At yet, my in-laws still get peeved when the kids don't spend enough time admiring the wrapping before ripping into it.
posted by Seamus at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2014


I suspect i am this cat
posted by The Whelk at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Declawing cats
Sit vs stand
Ask vs guess
Perceived value of wrapping presents

Just another day in the MeFi trenches.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


To be properly wrapped, the ends must all point down and be folded under (pointy bits are bad feng shui or something- who knows?), the ribbon must be expensively informal or old fashioned, and preferably fabric, not plastic, and the bows should have twigs and pinecones and flowers or small ornaments stuck into the knot in a tasteful way.

If I ever went to half this much trouble, I would feel entitled to omit the gift entirely, and just give the wrapping. (And in fact, for sheer entertainment value, watching the recipient rummaging through the ribbons and pinecones and trying to find a gift would beat many ways that I have passed the holiday.)
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously, I can't remember the last time I bought wrapping paper. Drop by the fabric store and buy a bundle of scraps and ends of oddball prints for like two bucks and just tie presents up in them. For small presents, print your own on an inkjet printer. I've used vinyl scraps and even a sheet of cork left over from a project. Last present I gave somebody I just put in a zipped burlap 10lb rice bag. (From an international grocery, but I think I've seen them at Costco.) Geez man, have fun. This year I'm thinking of spraying them (at least everything that comes in a box and contains no edible items) with Plasti Dip. Also if you're bad at using scotch tape neatly, make a virtue of necessity and tape it up messily with vividly colored duct tape.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:13 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


....as children with poor fine motor skills we got to use sunday color comics as wrapping paper.

Those also looked nice.
posted by The Whelk at 12:16 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


My husband's family wraps their presents willy nilly in the 15 minutes before gift time, with tape all over the place and no ribbon at all, usually.

The first time I had Christmas with my in-laws was the first time in my entire life that I had seen actual presents wrapped with ribbon and not merely festooned with the stick-on bows that come in large bags. I've since learned that they also scrape the ribbon with scissors to make sure it curls attractively. It's like we're from different species.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:19 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


For small presents, print your own on an inkjet printer.

I'm sorry, but this sounds like the wrapping habit of an independently wealthy oil baron. One page of inkjet wrapping paper probably costs $85.73 in ink cartridges, whereas a roll of 100 ft at [generic discount store] comes in a pack of three for five dollars.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:19 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Declawing cats
Sit vs stand
Ask vs guess
Perceived value of wrapping presents


Next let's do "gifts opened one person at a time" vs. "everyone opens their gifts all at once."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:23 PM on December 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


No no no, sewing your own gift bags is the way to be. It takes an hour or two to make a great pile of them. People are impressed by something that's not wrapped in something disposable. And after a couple of years, there is a critical mass of them out in the world and they start coming back to you, so that the amount of sewing required decreases every year.
posted by tchemgrrl


Please tell me more.
What types of fabrics do you use?
Are these draw string bags? If so, what do you use for the string?
(Or do you seal with a ribbon bow around the mouth?)
Any quick tips on design or process?
Do you create to gift size or make a few set sizes of bag?
posted by Seamus at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2014


I'm sorry, but this sounds like the wrapping habit of an independently wealthy oil baron. One page of inkjet wrapping paper probably costs $85.73 in ink cartridges,

Please give me the contact info for your parents/partner/adult children/dear friends, so I can inform them you want a laser printer this year.
posted by almostmanda at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Something was wedged smack in the center of the tube, and it took me a good five minutes to retrieve it. That thing was a folded-up piece of paper that read, "Look under the table!" where the actual gift had been taped out of sight.

My family loves this game! A classic variation is a large-ish wrapped box that when unwrapped and opened reveals a slightly smaller wrapped present addressed to a different person, who then unwraps that one to reveal another wrapped gift, etc. To prevent resentment it's best if the actual final gift ends up back in the hands of the original recipient.
posted by aka burlap at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


there is awesome wrapping paper out there with a grid on the back side that allows you to cut straight. that shit changed my life. i got it two years ago at costco, but i'm pretty sure you can find it other places.
posted by koroshiya at 12:34 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


One page of inkjet wrapping paper probably costs $85.73 in ink cartridges,

Admittedly I only do this if I have a funny idea for a custom design that relates to the present and/or recipient.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:35 PM on December 10, 2014


1) lay a furoshiki on a flat hard surface, such that corners point to the left and right (and top and bottom)
2) place present on furoshiki about 1/3 up from bottom pointy end
3) flip present over towards top end a few times, rolling it up in the furoshiki in the process
4) twist left and right pointy ends
5) tie those ends together
6) reuse the same furoshiki for the next n decades years of present wrapping

Of all furoshiki wrapping styles, I just use the basic wrap about 95% of the time. Looks so much better than my annual attempts at paper wrapping.
posted by zippy at 12:52 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Please give me the contact info for your parents/partner/adult children/dear friends, so I can inform them you want a laser printer this year.

I have one! But alas, the memories. The paper, damp with ink, the printer shaking the desk as it struggled to finish the job...horrors.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:56 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: [… S]unday color comics as wrapping paper.
That's for birthdays only in our family. Even so, I've got a stack going back years of Sundays.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2014


I have been known to use the big, colorful Chinese newspapers from the stand down the street, in a pinch.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also if you're bad at using scotch tape neatly, make a virtue of necessity and tape it up messily with vividly colored duct tape.

I once received a Christmas gift from my (much younger) siblings. I was impressed at the advanced and sleek sense of aesthetics that a couple of primary schoolers showed in choosing dramatic black wrapping paper.

No, it was wrapped in electrical tape. It took me until about February to unwrap it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:11 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ok, if you use washi tape and Kraft paper, then the messier it is the cuter it is.

Alas, I too have been the victim of duct taped presents... Mostly when my younger brother was in middle school.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:19 PM on December 10, 2014


>What types of fabrics do you use?
I've got a local place that resells donated fabric/craft supplies, but the bargain bin at the fabric store is also a good place to go trawling. I'll get anything festive or amusing. I usually stick with basic cottons. For mostly-Christmas-with-a-bit-of-Hannukah, I end up with a fair amount of plaids, anything with predominant red, green, or blue, plant patterns, wintery patterns, or silly retro prints that I think a particular person would enjoy.Here are some I made a few years ago. Nowadays I would make those small ones longer and skinnier.

>Are these draw string bags? If so, what do you use for the string? (Or do you seal with a ribbon bow around the mouth?)
My combination of sloppiness and perfectionism leads me to be unsatisfied with draw string bags without putting in more time than I want to. After a few unsatisfying drawstring bags I stuck with plain hemmed rectangles. They can be used in more ways, then, too, which is nice. I usually tie a ribbon around the top, but sometimes fold the flap over and tie it like a more traditional paper-wrapped gift, or tie the ends together. For a really exceptional piece of fabric and gift, I'll hem it into a square and do some furoshiki tying for the package, but most people I give gifts to are much more comfortable with a bag as a form factor. (upon preview: what zippy said.)

>Any quick tips on design or process?
>Do you create to gift size or make a few set sizes of bag?

Taking these together, I have semi-set sizes that work for most gifts, and mostly base new bags on what I'm running low on, though once in a while there will be exactly the right fabric for a particular gift. (I had some bath-themed calico that I wrapped fancy soaps in.) Small bags are just big enough to hold a big gourmet chocolate bar, medium are about as wide as the long edge of a mass-market paperback, large would hold a typical calendar or small clothing box, XL are slightly longer than a typical pillowcase but about as wide and will fit larger clothing boxes. Any remaining process is pretty gleefully freeform. Lay a piece of fabric out, figure out how to get some useful bag-sizes out of it with a minimum of cutting and waste, then cut and seam. Nice finished seams are nice; I like the idea that someone could use a bag for something else during the year. Measuring; totally verboten. It's actually helpful to have bags that are not all exactly the same size; it makes finding the right bag for the gift easier. Bags that are considerably longer than they are tall (the approximate form factor of a wine bag) give you more ways of presentation, but I'm way on the low end of the "presentation" scale; I just don't like the gigantic bag of paper when Christmas is over.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:20 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nobody looks at wrapping paper except to assess where best to grab it to start ripping it to bits.

That is patently not true. At least based on my mothers constant critiquing of gift wrappings.
posted by notreally at 1:23 PM on December 10, 2014


i once got a super fancy wrapped gift from a distant family member and it tooks weeks for me to figure out how to get the thing open and when i did there was light and screaming and a knife popped out and cut off my thumb and i was like 'well played uncle hellraiser' and he was all 'i live in your mirror now merry xmas'
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:24 PM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I use the tubes for light sabers.
posted by clavdivs at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


My mother wraps presents beautifully, no wonky ends, beautiful bows with curled streamers everywhere. I on the other hand got a christmas gift from my father which he "wrapped" by placing into a brown paper shopping bag, stapling it closed, and writing TO KATE on it with Sharpie. Sadly I inherited my father's present-wrapping skills but my mother's expectations.

At my first child's first birthday party, my (childless) brother hadn't had time to buy wrapping paper or a gift bag, and instead had SEAMLESSLY and PERFECTLY wrapped it in aluminum foil, making a bow out of Teflon plumbing tape. I was pretty impressed.
posted by KathrynT at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


My MiL used to look askance at people who just ripped into gifts, and she saved the wrapping paper. She was often heard to say, "I'll take my box back" for wrapping future gifts. Generous, but don't ruin the paper, you know?

So one time she got this GREAT deal on a big roll of slightly Victorian-looking wrapping paper: a muted pink background with some gray, scroll-thingy repeated all over. Closer examination of the gray thing revealed it to be a skull, meaning she had bought about an acre of Girly Goth Gift-Wrap. This revelation provoked storms of delighted laughter, and she never objected again when people tore open their gifts carelessly or crumpled up the paper after.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:36 PM on December 10, 2014


what we really need is a 3d printer that will print out a festive shell in the exact shape of very slightly larger than whatever it is you want to wrap.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:37 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


what we really need is a 3d printer that will print out a festive shell in the exact shape of very slightly larger than whatever it is you want to wrap.

This is the first time I've ever heard anybody come up with a practical reason to own a 3D printer. Bravo.
posted by bondcliff at 1:39 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Y'know how in commercials you'll see a stream of pouring chocolate and almonds flying through it, coming out the other side perfectly coated with chocolate? I want a way to wrap presents like that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


YES LET'S COAT EVERYTHING IN DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE

I mean what who said that
posted by The Whelk at 1:43 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


this year i bought Portugese cotton wrapping fabric from Williams Sonoma!
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate: "Next let's do "gifts opened one person at a time" vs. "everyone opens their gifts all at once.""

I'd ask if you were raised by wolves but EVEN WOLVES TAKE TURNS AT THE CARCASS.

Seamus: "What types of fabrics do you use?"

Christmas quilting cottons bought on clearance December 26. Personally I make little fabric envelopes with velcro closure in sizes for DVDs, CDs, and standard paperbacks and hardcovers, and use wrapping paper for anything else. This got me down from like four wrapping paper rolls per Christmas to less than one ... at least until little kids and their toys came back in the picture but they like paper wrap anyway. I also swoop in like a vulture to snag back my fabric wrap from relatives. The one downside is that you can't participate in the time-honored family game of "throw the wrapping paper at the designated garbage sibling when he is not looking so you can get him in the head."

I have lately started buying the cheapest white or brown-paper gift bags at the craft store and handing my preschoolers crayons and sheets of stickers and telling them to go to town. People think this is ADORABLE and personalized no matter how messy the gift bagging attempt is, AND it keeps my kids busy with a craft project for like twenty whole minutes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:53 PM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I would never show up at christmas if those were requirements for gift-giving. Present buying is stressful enough as it is,

Replace "Christmas" with potlucks, and gift-wrapping with "buying food" and I'm right there with you.

Insane gift wrapping expectations? No problem. Potlucks? Just no.

posted by small_ruminant at 2:24 PM on December 10, 2014


octothorpe - I would never show up at christmas if those were requirements for gift-giving. Present buying is stressful enough as it is, why make it even worse by forcing you to make each one into a witty perfectly color-coordinated puzzle?

No one is forced into doing it. There is no problem with presents that don't conform. It is just a way of making a little money go a bit further, drawing out the present giving and making it a game. If you aren't able to spend a huge amount and people are likely to be getting what they asked for plus a few random gifts this is a way of everyone getting something extra from the shared experience. Present giving is usually a part of Christmas and it is a bit sad to miss out on it if there isn't much spare cash going around or you don't feel that rampant consumerism is something to celebrate. As I said YMMV.

I know a family that only give things bought in second hand shops for Christmas. They are pretty dedicated (possibly to a fault) and shop in remote second hand shops in the months after Christmas, while on holiday or passing through a town. That is their way of sidestepping the pointless consumerism angle and giving a bit to charity in the process of joining in with the present giving. Other people only give things they have made themselves. I suppose could only be a habit for those rich in time and poor in cash, but shopping takes time even if it is all done online.
posted by asok at 2:28 PM on December 10, 2014


My never-fail method is not celebrating Christmas.
posted by kyrademon at 2:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: I have no many opinions
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:41 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Replace "Christmas" with potlucks, and gift-wrapping with "buying food" and I'm right there with you.

I already commented this week on pot-luck induced stress.
posted by octothorpe at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2014


To size the paper correctly for this kind of wrapping:
    1. Place the box with one diagonal parallel to the cut end of the paper.
    2. Make sure the paper is wide enough that the long sides of the paper can be pulled up and cover both of the corners nearest to them.
      a. If there is a whole lot of paper above the corners, you'll make doing the "tuck in" folds at the corners more complicated, so you may want to trim the paper's width.
    3. Push the present away from the cut edge so there's enough free paper there to cover the corner nearest that edge.
    4. Cut the paper so that it leaves enough to pull up over the corner that is facing the roll.
Taping the paper to the box isn't essential, but just like with the "squared-up" method, doing without requires more dexterity. Otherwise the box may shift relative to the paper as you make the folds, which may prevent the wrapping from being tight and crisp. Personally, I need both hands to do the folds on either method neatly, so I use tape on anything that won't be damaged by it, but I wish my hands were clever enough not to.
posted by CHoldredge at 3:00 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, my brothers and I decided that instead of spending the money we were given for Christmas presents could be better spent on ourselves, so we made a pact not to buy each other presents and instead loudly exclaim on Christmas morning "Thanks for the great toy, Steve (or whomever)!" And then we would blow that money on candy or whatever. I don't believe we ever got back in the habit of giving gifts to each other. I doubt anyone else was fooled, but hey, the gift that keeps on giving, and no wrapping. I love my brothers.
posted by evilDoug at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I nostalgically remember how my grandfather used to wrap presents. He had been a postmaster, and knew what his packages might face, so on arrival you untied the string, got dad to break out the heavy shears to get through the outer layer of filament tape wrapped brown paper, then the inner, then the filament tape sealed cardboard box inside of that. Inside the box would be packing peanuts, then another box, also filament tape sealed, more peanuts, then the gift-wrapped gift.

Under the outer layer of wrap on the gift would be an inner layer of tissue paper, at least 3 layers thick, then the actual gift, sometimes also gift wrapped with a single layer of paper.

His boxes always promised more than they'd deliver by being much larger than the present, but I don't ever recall one arriving damaged. The video's method may be a few thousand seconds quicker, but I really miss the nigh-archeological excavation of his efforts.
posted by Blackanvil at 5:03 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


evilDoug, that is so awesome and (I'm going out on a limb here) something that only a pack of brothers would come up with.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:29 PM on December 10, 2014


My mom's time tested method is as follows:

1. Buy 1 million rolls of paper over the course of the year.
2. Hide all the scissors.
3. Somehow procure 6-7 rolls of scotch tape with only 3 inches of tape remaining.
4. Ask Dani to do it.
5. (optional) blame Dani for not removing price tags and losing gift receipts.
posted by MsDaniB at 6:03 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I didn't even have to click the link before I thought "I bet it's a Japanese technique." It's no fluke that orgami comes from Japan; the Japanese are masters at wrapping things up. (Although it's a little hard to tell from the video, I'll bet my last dollar that woman is Japanese.)
posted by zardoz at 6:22 PM on December 10, 2014


evilDoug: "When I was a kid, my brothers and I decided that instead of spending the money we were given for Christmas presents could be better spent on ourselves, so we made a pact not to buy each other presents and instead loudly exclaim on Christmas morning "Thanks for the great toy, Steve (or whomever)!" And then we would blow that money on candy or whatever. I don't believe we ever got back in the habit of giving gifts to each other. I doubt anyone else was fooled, but hey, the gift that keeps on giving, and no wrapping. I love my brothers."

My brothers and I did something similar except we gave each other gifts we wanted for ourselves and then just traded back after we opened them.
posted by 724A at 8:13 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


My father has many lovely qualities, but he also has A Lot Of Opinions, especially on things he usually doesn't do himself. I don't think he's ever wrapped a Christmas present, but he's instilled a fear of (his disdain for) tape in the entire family. Apparently someone skilled in wrapping will not use tape, ever, so I now give him books since they can be wrapped without me having to resort to painful contortions to keep the ends in place whilst attempting complicated magic with ribbon.

To my horror I now find myself scoffing at other people using tape. I am slowly turning into a grumpy old fart.
posted by hannala at 2:26 AM on December 11, 2014


Just smear the whole damn thing with a glue stick.
posted by smackfu at 6:26 AM on December 11, 2014


Labels should be individually written with puns that hint at the gift, so that the recipient should be able to try guessing before unwrapping.

My dad was brilliant at this, and we always had running jokes from year to year. I can't do this now with young kids and a husband that doesn't appreciate it as much. God, I miss my dad.
posted by ElleElle at 7:32 AM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wrapping presents is only difficult and time-consuming if you care how it looks.
The Tao of Giftwapping, right there
posted by milnews.ca at 10:37 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]




ob1quixote: "How To Wrap Your Cat For Christmas "

That is the most patient cat EVAR! They did a great job wrapping cat, but too much tape. Great use of a bow.
posted by 724A at 6:07 AM on December 12, 2014


You can tell that cat's been through a lot of stunts like that.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:48 AM on December 12, 2014


My favorite cat-wrapping video.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:35 PM on December 12, 2014


Uh-oh, looks like we've got Cat Wrap Fever.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2014


Labels should be individually written with puns that hint at the gift, so that the recipient should be able to try guessing before unwrapping.

Bull! Labels should be written to sound like they hint at the insides but actually be completely unrelated. Or they should be addressed to some nickname for the person that is thought up on the spot and that will take the person handing out presents extra time to decipher.
Passer-outer: Who is "The Evil Left-handed Booger-Snatching Phone-Crumple-Witch" and why is "Shlomo the Hanukkah Mule" giving her a Christmas present?
Me: Witches can be males too!
Passer Outer: GRRRRRRRR
Me:
posted by Seamus at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


« Older AD/BC: A Rock Opera   |   My name is Cybele May and I love candy. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments