Making Gift Wrapping Personal

November 20, 2019

by guest writer Marilyn Herring

“The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away.”

Pablo Picasso

I love to give, and I do consider it a gift.  We all know someone who does not give great gifts!

I don’t want to buy a gift just because it’s Christmas; I want to buy a gift I saw in July and it had YOU written all over it.

While I love to give of both my time and resources, giving neatly wrapped packages is my passion.  I enjoy the thrill of finding the perfect gift and then plotting and planning how I will wrap it.

It’s not uncommon for me to have the gift wrap and know how I want to wrap something, long before I have the gift or recipient.  Right now I have one I’m just itching to get wrapped up but don’t have a gift or recipient in the near future. It’ll be perfect for spring, so I’ll be patient.

Occasionally, I’ll be out and about, see a paper and think, “This is perfect for So and So,” and then other times, I pick up a gift and begin searching for the right paper (if it’s not already in my stash).

While I tend to vary between wrapping to match the gift and wrapping to match the recipient, right now I’m hung up on wrapping to match the gift.  

For example: my cat-loving niece’s Christmas gift (which I’ve had since July), is cat-themed. Typical Christmas paper simply would not do. I scoured the interwebs for about a week until I found the perfect Christmas cat paper. As someone who is not a cat lover, I had certain standards and specifications which had to be met. Etsy finally came through, and the gift has been wrapped and ready to go since August 1st.

To say I like to gift wrap is an understatement. I LOVE to gift wrap. I don’t necessarily like to wrap under pressure (I once stared at a package for 35 minutes before inspiration hit), but there is something calming about going into my craft room on a quiet Saturday morning and putting “this and that” together to create a perfectly wrapped package. I guess this is my hobby, because my husband says the same thing about golfing at 7AM!

Stumbling across fabulous Instagram accounts with pretty paper, personalized gift tags, and bow-tying demos gives me insurmountable joy.  I can look at paper and ribbons for hours.  

Recently, we were leaving Paper Crown (the cutest paper store/coffee shop in Waco, TX), and in my bag were several sheets of wrapping paper and velvet ribbons. I looked at my husband and said, “You know, a lot of people have stocks and bonds. I have papers and ribbons.” He couldn’t disagree.

I’m not alone. Wrapping gifts has been a “thing” since the invention of paper in China, circa 105AD.

In 1917, a pair of brothers running a stationery store in Kansas City, Missouri, were having an exceptionally good holiday season. So good, that they ran out of their standard inventory of tissue paper. Not wanting to be hampered by their success, but needing a replacement for the sold-out paper, they found a stack of “fancy French paper” – paper meant not for display, but for lining envelopes. Figuring, “Hey, why not,” they put the paper in a showcase, setting its price at $.10 a sheet.

The paper sold out instantly! In 1918, the brothers tried the same trick again, offering lining paper as gift wrap. Once again, the sheets were a sell-out hit. By 1919, having confirmed that the lining sheets’ sales weren’t a fluke, the pair began producing and selling their own printed paper – decorative, and designed for the sole purpose of wrapping gifts.

The brothers? Joyce and Rollie Hall. Their store? Hallmark.

While the Hall brothers didn’t invent gift wrap, their innovations led to the development of modern gift wrapping. They helped popularize the idea of decorative gift wrapping in the 20th century, and according to Joyce Hall, “The decorative gift-wrapping business was born the day Rollie placed those French envelope linings on top of the showcase.”

Wrapping paper is now a $3.2 billion industry.

If you want your gift to stand out, you need to wrap it and wrap it nicely.

Pack it in a box, cut in straight lines, crease the folds, and hide the tape!

Some tips to make gift wrapping easy are:

  • Boxes – put the item in a box whenever possible. Save shipping boxes that are in really great shape or buy boxes from Hobby Lobby/Walmart. (Walmart has my favorite boxes around Christmas time.)
  • Tissue paper – master the art of tissue lining. Place a layer of tissue in the bottom of the box. Tuck the top sheet around the item. For extra flair, create a pleat down the middle of the tissue paper.
  • Wrapping paper – when choosing wrapping paper, the thicker the better. Have fun with various prints. Hobby Lobby papers have a nice grid on the back to make cutting straight lines very easy.  
  • Measuring paper – there’s nothing more frustrating than folding wrapping paper around a gift only to realize it’s about an inch short. Wrap string or twine around the box and use that length as a guide for cutting wrapping paper, if necessary.
  • Scissors – sharp scissors make wrapping gifts a dream. Don’t use scissors that have been used on other household tasks to wrap gifts. Don’t let cut edges show – aim to hide every cut edge.
  • Tape – while all tape can be used to wrap gifts, double-sided tape is the secret weapon for a neat seam. Sometimes, if the paper is really thick, hot glue might be the best. I catch myself using hot glue more and more.
  • Ribbon – wide grosgrain or wired ribbon is the trick to a beautiful bow.  Cut ribbon at a slant or V shape to make a double-pointed edge. Also, look for “weird” things to use instead of a bow or ribbon. You can hot glue anything to a package! (Hello, spray-painted gold dinosaurs.)

At the end of the day, wrap with what makes you happy. If putting gifts in a gift bag is what you love, put gifts in bags. If you like the way a wrapped gift looks but hate tying bows, find something else to use instead. Fortunately, there are no rules when it comes to giving gifts to those you love.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, so I leave you with these packages near and dear to my heart.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram for more fun and quirky ideas @marilyn1982.  


Marilyn Herring loves Jesus, Chris, gift wrap, celebrating, traveling, and all things mini.  When she isn’t in her “she shed” creating magic, she can be found at First Pentecostal Church, TJMaxx, Target, Hobby Lobby, or Chick-fil-A.  

By day, Marilyn is an Organizational Learning and Development instructor for a rapidly growing financial institution, Bank OZK.

Marilyn’s husband, Chris, says she overthinks just about everything, but Marilyn says she overloves — which means she values people, emotions, promises, and some things.