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How to wrap presents like a pro

On the surface, glitter-covered papers, designer stamped bows and custom-made ribbons seem anything but old fashioned. The embellishments appear to key in on the latest trends in the most over-the-top way. However, behind these eye-catching elements is a deeply personal sentiment that harks back to a time when handmade touches were paramount.

“The presentation of a gift is just as important as picking out the gift itself,” says Lindsay Carlino, the creative mind behind That’s a Wrap BR. “Gift wrapping brings a sense of nostalgia of waking up on Christmas morning to the beautifully wrapped gifts that my mom had placed under the tree. It reminds me of a time when the pace of life was much slower and attention to detail was valued. To me, it’s all about the small things.”

Inspired and ready to take on the closets of unwrapped presents in our own homes, we rounded up some tips from local gift-wrapping professionals to take our present presentations to the next level:

1. Quality is key.

Have you ever tried to wrap with the discount-rack paper? Carlino would advise against it. Instead, she says the secret to show-stopping gift wrap lies in high-quality paper. Using thick wrapping sheets or textured papers not only makes a gift more interesting, but also prevents unwanted tearing or wrinkling that comes when gifts are transported or shaken.

2. Get serious about scissors.

Both Colleen Ottinger of Trumpets and Andi Berthelot of The Keeping Room note that heavy-duty scissors are crucial to the wrapping process.

“I wrap with all kinds of fabrics, silks and ribbons, which makes using two kinds of scissors a must–one of paper and one for ribbon,” explains Ottinger. “Marking the ribbon scissors with a Sharpie and rotating them often helps with making clean cuts. The scissors don’t have to be expensive, but once they are used on wrapping paper, I suggest getting a new pair for cutting ribbon.”

Photo courtesy The Keeping Room.

3. Don’t cut corners.

Anyone who has ever wrapped a gift knows the corners are the most crucial element, and, coincidentally, the hardest to nail. Due to the importance of the corner, we broke this tip down into steps.

  1. Stacey Rodriguez of Paper n Things says to always measure the gift first. Not only does it allow you to make crisp corners by leaving only the optimal inch on each side of a box, but it also eliminates paper waste.
  2. Carlino advises to never fold on the floor. A raised surface such as a kitchen table allows you to be more in control of your folds by eliminating the awkwardness of hunching over.
  3. For creating straight and clean corners, Berthelot explains that folding the inner edge is key. Raw edges will rarely be perfect on their own.
  4. Finally, to secure the perfectly folded corner, Rodriguez says to opt for transparent tape.

4. Tape is great but hot glue is a secret weapon.

While double-sided and transparent tape have their respective places in the wrapping process, Ottinger, Bertholet and Rodriguez explain that for textured papers, thick ribbons and extra embellishments, hot glue is the way to go.

“My hot glue gun is my most prized possession,” says Ottinger. “When I work with heavier paper and designer ribbons, regular tape just doesn’t do the job. Instead, I use a dab of hot glue, which holds well and can reach small spaces while still being concealed.”

Photo courtesy That’s a Wrap BR.

5. Everything is better with a bow.

A bow is as essential to a gift as a star is to a Christmas tree. However, executing the dizzying, multi-yard bows of the professionals is no simple task. For beginners, Bertholet and Rodriguez suggest using wired ribbon, which allows for greater control over how the bow will fall.

“I even like a simple single knot with the strands just hanging down across the gift,” explains Bertholet. “It’s perfect for beginners because it’s easy but it still looks put together and impressive.”

6. Embrace extra.

The professionals don’t stop at bows. Utilizing everything from pine cones to ornaments to jingle bells, all of our experts say that adding something extra and unexpected is a surefire way to make your wrapping stand out. In addition, these items can be used as makeshift gift tags by incorporating the recipient’s name in a creative way. One idea we love is using a paint pen to write a name on a leaf or ornament. If you are in a rush, Bertholet says custom gift tags are a great way to elevate the look of a gift while also leaving a personal touch.

For more inspiration from the experts, check out this story from inRegister’s December issue, on newsstands now.