When I was growing up, my mother wisely created a year-round gift-wrapping area in our basement replete with every paper, ribbon, gift tag, and tissue imaginable. A large worktable was stocked with scissors, double-sided tape, and even box cutters and a metal yardstick so you could cut your wrapping paper in a perfectly straight line. My entire extended family traveled from several states to gather in my parents’ home for Christmas, so you can imagine the flurry of activity this station saw in the days leading up to December 25th. Keeping the wrapping station organized, fully stocked, and far away from her kitchen meant it was all one less thing my mother had to worry about.
A stream of travel-weary relatives hauled shopping bags down to the basement where, fueled by the TBS’s “A Christmas Story” marathon and a box of Rebecca Ruth’s Bourbon Balls (a decidedly Southern chocolate candy brought North by Uncle Ted), they wrapped up dozens of gifts with ease, thanks to my Mom’s brilliantly organized gift-wrapping station. In the last few days before Christmas, such a frenzy of wrapping occurred that it was difficult to keep all of the packages straight. We all recall the year when, come Christmas morning, poor Uncle Ted open up a fabulously wrapped, albeit empty, shirt box; in the frenzy of packages and wrapping, someone just got carried away.
Though my own home doesn’t have quite enough space for a permanent wrapping area, this year I finally pulled together a moveable wrapping station that’s lightweight enough for me to easily pull in and out of the closet whenever I find a few spare moments to wrap. I picked up an inexpensive tower of drawers from Walmart and sorted all of my overflowing shopping bags and messy bins of supplies to create a neat and tidy system. The clear drawers & handwritten labels make it easy to find things and to see if we’re running low on any supplies. I dedicated one drawer to cards and stocked it with Christmas, Hanukkah, and generic holiday greeting cards as well as pens, gold sharpies, tape, and scissors. Other drawers are devoted to tissue paper, gift bags, wrapping paper, and all of my favorite “toppers” – the little things like jingle bells, bows, and miniature ornaments that make packages really pop.
In addition to having a fully-stocked wrapping station, I find it’s helpful to have a stash of ready-to-go hostess gifts so I’m not scrambling just before a party or (gulp) caught empty handed if anyone drops by with a gift. Some of my favorite gifts to give are the treats I enjoy around my own home: the Maker’s of Wax Goods birch-scented candle that our guests always comment on, a flavorful Olive Oil & Vinegar set that makes whipping up a gourmet salad a cinch, and luxuriously scented hand soaps paired with pretty hand towels. Keep a few of these useful gifts within arms’ reach of your gift-wrapping station, and you can toss one in a pretty bag and be ready to go before the kids even have their shoes on.
Even if you enjoy wrapping gifts, there seldom seems to be enough time to get to them all yourself. Tempt family members to help by stashing a little snack among the gift bags and bows. Whether it’s a mason jar of homemade Chex mix or some gourmet chocolates, pick up something you don’t normally keep in the pantry to make it a true treat for whomever tackles the wrapping.
Whether you carve out a space in a bedroom closet, a niche in the laundry room, or set up shop by the Dining Room table, I encourage you to pull together a true gift-wrapping station of your own this season. Keeping everything on hand in one spot allows me to focus on and enjoy the whole point of gift giving ~ the joy of creating something beautiful for the people I care for most.
Kitty Burruss is an interior designer who finds great joy in turning plain boxes into fabulously wrapped gifts ~ so long as there are snacks.