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Ready or not, here comes Christmas!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

#6 - May: Gift Wrap, and Thwarting Snoopers

Is it too early to think about gift wrap? Not if 1) you already have gifts hidden, and 2) you want to do theme gift wrap or at least have something special under the tree this time around!


If you already have some gifts stashed away for Christmas, wrapping them now can save time in December when you might otherwise be up in the wee hours of Christmas morning, tears of exhaustion trailing down your cheeks as you continue to wrap, wrap, wrap, or stuff, stuff, stuff (into gift bags because you ran out of wrapping time and/or patience). Trust me, it’s hard to re-claim your Christmas joy after a night like that.


Even if you haven't started making or purchasing Christmas gifts yet (What are you waiting for? Christmas???), you can plan your gift wrap. What strikes your fancy for this year? Metallic wrap? White wrap with colorful ribbons? Newspaper wrap adorned with stamps/stencils/stickers? Homemade painted paper? Do you want all your gifts to look different, do you want them all wrapped in one kind of paper, or do you choose a paper for each family member and wrap all gifts to that person in that paper? (Btw, if you do this, please don't choose the ugliest paper for your least favorite relative. That's not in the spirit of the season. And if you can't imagine anyone doing that, trust me. I had an in-law who wrapped all gifts to me in paper with a black background - every year. I don't know how she did it, but she found the ugliest Christmas wrap on the face of this planet and saved it just for me! Every year!) I may have a lifetime supply of clearance Christmas wrap in my closet, but I don’t always feel like using it. One year our gift wrap was giant sheets of butcher paper that I let my kids cover with sponge-painted red, green, and gold stars. One year I wrapped everything in white tissue paper and plaid ribbons. Another year I went for silver and red shiny paper. Since my trees look much the same from year to year, I enjoy creating different looks for the gifts placed beneath them.


If you begin wrapping now, you will want a master sheet of all gifts acquired and who they are for. You will need to tag the gifts so that you don’t accidentally gift the deluxe strawberry bath set to big, hairy Uncle Hank. Rather than putting names on the gifts (tempting any snoopers to sneak a peak in gifts bearing their names), you might assign each person a number and tag the gifts with the correct number. You must keep a master list of the names and numbers, maybe in a secret place in your wallet. On Christmas Eve, you can replace the numbered tags with name tags so that there is no confusion on the big day.


Be sneaky when it comes to your master sheets. My mom kept hers in her jewelry box, but she had a darling daughter who liked to admire the rings and things it held. This daughter found a folded piece of paper in the jewelry box and opened it. She read a list of every gift she was going to get! (Have I mentioned that I am my mother’s only daughter?) She discovered that a lot of the fun of Christmas involved anticipating surprises. Knowing what’s coming just sucks the fun of opening presents right out of the day!


As you wrap your gifts, keep those snoopers in mind. You don’t want them to spoil their surprises! You can foil snoopers who find their gifts (or those who like to squeeze and shake the boxes under the tree) with a few tricks. My mom got me really good one year. I was about 16, and she was tired of my ability to guess what was in wrapped gifts. That year she put all my gifts inside puzzle boxes! I was outraged when I shook those boxes. One thing I didn’t want for Christmas was puzzles! Then as I opened my gifts and saw that the puzzle boxes were old ones we’d already put together, I was confused. My mom told me to look inside, and that’s when I found the real gifts of Avon jewelry. Mom sure tricked me with those puzzles!


As an adult, I still had the ability to accurately guess the contents of wrapped packages. “That’s a dress, that’s a sweater, that’s a bathrobe, that’s chocolate-covered cherries, that’s a box of Andes mints!” I thought I was funny, but the gift-giver’s joy had been spoiled. Therefore, he went out and bought one last gift and had it “canned.” That’s right, I found a gift in a sealed tin can under the tree, and it was for me. It sounded like it had a rock in it. I couldn’t snoop! I was thwarted! (Not really.) The rest of the story: I thought it was a joke gift, and I didn’t want to be laughed at on Christmas. Therefore, when no one was around, I got a can opener and went to work on that can. Imagine my horror when I discovered a necklace wrapped in paper inside the can, along with a marble! It was a real gift, not a joke, and I had just spoiled the surprise! You know what? You can’t hide the evidence of an opened can, even if you put it back under the tree upside down. I learned my lesson that year. No more snooping for me! (Hopefully most snoopers won’t go as far as I did.)


Let’s wrap this up. (Pun intended. Hehehe!) You can thwart snoopers by putting the real gift inside a puzzle box with puzzle pieces still inside. You can put the gift in unexpected containers, like a small gift in a large box. You can include sound-makers – marbles, rocks, jingle bells – to mask the sound the real gift makes when shaken. You can wrap the gift in bubble wrap and make it seem like an item of clothing when squeezed, when it’s really a book or CD. And of course, you can keep the gifts hidden and/or locked up where the snoops in your family will never think to look.


A note about gift bags: Gift bags are pretty and easy. They have cute little handles too! But they are an invitation to snoop. Only use them if the recipient won't be tempted to sneak an early peak, which may be because you are going to deliver the gift and expect the recipient to open it right away.


Use these tips if you’re going to start wrapping gifts now. Remember these tips if you’re going to wrap your gifts later.


Do you have any creative ideas for gift wrap or thwarting snoopers? Post them in the comments section!