For a basic, year-round wrapping station, gather these items and store in a box or bin:
Solid-color paper. It may be more expensive than the poinsettia and sleigh-bells five-pack, but when paired with the right ribbons, it can be used for all occasions—Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, weddings, baby showers. Order the paper in bulk so you’re never caught without it on hand.
Solid ribbon in contrasting or complementary colors. Consider grosgrain ribbon—unlike paper or plastic ribbons, which crimp or fold when you tie them and which all too readily show mistakes, grosgrain can be retied and reused. Try: A rainbow of ribbons to suit any occasion—yellow, aqua, pink, white, red, and Kelly green. Kate’s Paperie, $9 a spool (11 yards long, one inch wide), katespaperie.com.
Scissors (used only for cutting wrapping paper and ribbon, so they’ll stay sharp and clean).
Bags. That gigantic teddy bear, that star-shaped cardboard lantern—they’d be impossible, or at least punishing, to wrap were it not for bags. Try: Giant gift sacks from the Gift Wrap Company, which come in a variety of holiday and nonholiday prints. $4.25 each (includes matching ribbon and gift card), 800-443-4429.
2 of 3Wendell T. Webber
Put a Bow On Bulky Gifts
Some hard-to-wrap items are best tied with a simple bow. Remember that for a child, the difference between a wrapped present and an unwrapped one is mere seconds. If it is imperative to disguise a gift or to keep a child guessing, hide the real item and leave a decoy present containing a note or a riddle under the tree, suggests Ellen Timberlake, a gift-wrapping consultant for Scotch tape. Then, when the decoy is opened, the real surprise can begin—a treasure hunt leading to the large, unwieldy goodie.
Another strategy from Timberlake: Disguise a present’s weight by adding a phone book or another heavy item to the box to keep the recipient guessing until the last moment.
3 of 3Wendell T. Webber
Get Creative With Hard-to-Wrap Items
Wrap the cookie in colored tissue paper.
Slip the tissue-wrapped treat into a clear cellophane bag (available at craft stores) and tie with a ribbon.
Also Good For: Gift certificates, candles, jewelry, beauty products, stocking stuffers, CDs and DVDs.
A mailing tube disguises long items like this. (Tape two together for something even longer, like a fishing pole.) To keep the bat from moving around, stuff the tube with bubble wrap. “Or use pages from a newspaper sports section or a sports magazine to tie in the theme,” says Marian Goodman, operating vice president of shopping services for Bloomingdale’s.
Wrap the tube in paper and tie the ends, Tootsie Roll-style, with ribbon, perhaps in the colors of a favorite team.
Also Good For: Golf clubs, yoga mats, umbrellas, shawls and scarves (roll them up to prevent wrinkles), a rolling pin.
Remove the ball from its cardboard packaging.
Drop the ball into a much larger box. Stuff the edges with tissue or some other wrapping material to keep the ball from rolling around.
Wrap the box. “I've done the same thing to disguise a small jewelry box inside a series of bigger boxes,” says Goodman. “You’d never expect a ring if the box you see is big enough for a coat.”
Also Good For: Hats, handbags, belts, toy trucks, dollhouses, Lava lamps.
Wrap the blooms and stem in tissue paper for protection.
Cut two pieces of spun rayon, twice as long as the plant is tall.
Lay them crosswise, one over the other, and place the plant in the center.
Gather all four ends of the material above the blooms. Tape the ends together, then tie them with a ribbon.
Also Good For: Stuffed animals, luggage, gift baskets.