Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get Ready with Gift Wrap

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm embracing my Christmas cheer, and starting the holiday posts before Thanksgiving. If it’s too early for you, I understand; feel free to check my blog after Thanksgiving. But if you're like me, and find the whole Christmas season and preparation phrase exciting then read on!

When I was younger, I didn't really get the whole "preparing" for Christmas thing. You buy a gift, wrap it, and call it a day. However, now that I'm older, I'm realizing it doesn't always go like that, and to be honest, I don't always want to go like that. I want Christmas to be special, which involves some time and effort to make it that way. Then add in trying to do special on a budget, and whoa, the time and effort involved now triple. Not having the money or not wanting to spend tons of money is totally understandable (that's definitely me this holiday season), and you shouldn't have to sacrifice sharing Christmas magic with your loved ones because of this. Thankfully, I've started to master this partnership of special and on a budget. However, you have to be willing to put in some extra time and energy and most of all, start early!

Stores prey on people who wait to the last minute then rush out and buy a full price gift, a last minute card, and last minute wrapping supplies. These people (i.e. my husband) don't have a lot of leverage, they're in a pinch, so they'll pay the money whether it's a crappy deal or not. So the take home message here (and for the next couple of weeks) is start now, start early! The first place I'm suggesting to start (and the first place I have started this year) is gift wrap. Now, I could write an entire post on the power of a beautifully wrapped, present, but I'll keep it short. Presentation is important. It's a first impression, and we all how many chances you get to redo a first impression. Beautifully wrapped gifts say, "You are special, you deserve beautiful things, and I care about you enough to take the time to put that big bow and gift tag on the package." And while I love a beautiful gift wrapped package, I don't love the price tag that can come with all the wrappings and trimmings. If by some chance you won the lottery or don't care about price, you should head over to The Container Store right now for their to die for gift wrap. However, for those who of us who haven't won the lottery, lets chat about some ideas for making a gift look extra special without the extra price tag.

1. Put the bags down. That's right people, gift bags are a cop out. Now, as I say that, I recognize that some gifts just don't work in a box. In those cases, a bag is warranted, given that it has a beautiful bow, gift tag, etc. etc., but when you can use a box, use one! It has a better shape, allows for big bows and beautiful wrapping paper, and most of all, shows you took the extra time for the gift recipient. Boxes are available in bulk at Target, Walmart, etc., but for a more budget friendly option, make sure you ask for a box when you buy the gift. Stores won't ask you if you want one, you have to ask them nicely and then they'll pull out a box from below the magic counter. Since some stores don't offer boxes or if you're giving a homemade gift and still want a box, I have gotten in the habit of asking for a box whenever I buy anything during the months of November and December. Even if I'm just shopping for me, I'll ask for a box so that I have one when gift time rolls around.

2. Make pretty paper a priority. Wrapping paper is a priority for me, but it's often way pricier than it should be. Luckily, Target has stocked their dollar bin this year with lots of mini wrapping paper rolls. Not only are these rolls a dollar, but they're minisized so they can be easily stored in your home or in your suitcase if you're wrapping upon arrival. They're 40 square feet of paper, which is the same size as the full price rolls back in the holiday section which range from 2 to 7 dollars. A roll of holiday paper at the Container Store or the Hallmark Store can cost up to $10.99 per roll (yikes!) So I'm telling you, these dollar bin rolls at Target are a steal! Stock up now because they sell out quick. And if you live in the same small town as me, good luck getting them because I emptied one of the Targets out already :)

3. Behold the beauty of bows. Maybe it's just because I'm a girly girl, but for me, bows are beautiful, and at the holidays, they are even more magical. Now, I will be candid with you. I am not the best bow-tier. I actually kind of stink. My saving grace? Tulle! It is the answer to easy and pretty bows. It's forgiving and super cheap. Hobby Lobby has tons of colors, with each roll costing $2.99. If you use the 40% off coupon listed on their website, you'll spend just over a buck. Not bad. I have 14 different colors in my ribbon basket and use them on every gift I give. I used it on a bridal shower gift this weekend, and as the bride reached for my present she cooed, "Ohhh what a pretty bow." It was a simple bow in cream tulle and yet managed to get that reaction. Nice. For those of you that insist on using premade, stick on bows, please rethink and give tulle a chance. I promise it takes 10 seconds. This year I am going to challenge myself to get fancy with my bow making. I found a great gift wrapping guide from the Container Store that had easy to follow bow making instructions. I haven't tried any yet, but I am definitely going to attempt a couple this weekend. I'll post pictures after I try. Check it out here if you're interested.

4. Tag, you're it. Have you ever been at a family gathering when everyone is fumbling with a particular present trying to read the name written in tiny letters on the back of the present? Make it easy for your loved ones and invest in gift tags. The ever so trusted Target dollar bin has several cute options for only...a dollar (gotcha!) Some people are ok with the stick on gift tags, but I usually try to go for the paper ones. You can even make your own with some cute scrapbook paper, a Sharpie, and some ribbon. I saw on a recent blog favorite of mine, Two Shades of Pink, a mom that was putting her kids pictures on the gift tag, so they could recognize what gifts are theirs. Super cute for little ones (although I have a feeling my husband would think that was slightly creepy on his gift.) Whatever your method, don't underestimate gift tags. Most people don't use them, so be different than most and make your friends and family gasp at your attention to detail.

5. Add an embellishment. Forgo the traditional big bow, and instead, add a sweet and unexpected embellishment. Add a candy cane, a lollipop, or some pink bracelets for the little princess in your life. Christmas ornaments also make great embellishments for your gifts; just make sure they're not glass. The Dollar Store, Dollar Bin, and the candy aisle are all great places to find these little treasures. Keep the embellishment small in price so the gift inside is still the main focus, but watch people squeal over receiving a gift on the outside of the package.

I could go on and on about my affair with gift wrap, but I think I should stop here. (If you read to this point, I am impressed!) So don’t delay, get out and start searching for deals on boxes, paper, bows, gift tags, and embellishments. The good stuff goes early. And with all of these tips, remember, it’s not about having perfectly wrapped package. Many of my boxes still have gaps or bulges of paper, but it’s the thought that counts and makes your loved ones smile. Besides, I’m pretty sure that giant red tulle bow hides most of my mistakes :)  Happy wrapping yall!


Two Shades of Pink said...

Okay Miss Style Guru Rock Star... totally digging your blog and thanks for my shout out! Love, love your tips and ideas and I was drooling over...well, a lot of stuff. So wish I could put you in my pocket when retail therapy calls. Awesome...

Kelsey said...

Please post photos of your gifts once wrapped to prove to all of your faithful readers that you actually do step 5 to every gift!! I gotta see this! =)