Skip to content

The age-old dilemma of wrapping odd-shaped Christmas presents

It’s an age-old dilemma. Just how do you wrap odd shaped Christmas presents and make them look good? It’s a dilemma which has been frustrating the hell out of me all morning. For example, my grandmother asked me to buy her a very specific vase. It’s red, beautiful, glass, but also oval, like a rugby ball. I started wrapping it up and soon enough, when I got to either end, the vase almost slipped out of my hands twice, and I went through three attempts to neatly fold the ends of the paper without 1) a huge excess of folds and 2) all the paper scrunching with so many creases that I might as well have wrapped it in newspaper. What I ended up with is frankly not the gem of my collection. The present looks like a wrapped up over-sized potato. I attempted to hide my various folding faux-pas with ribbon, but this resulted in a merely trussed-up looking wrapped up potato. I soon gave up. It will have to do. Doesn’t all the paper end up swiftly in the bin anyway?

The dilemma of wrapping a Norm-shaped Christmas present (Pen on paper, 2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

My potato-resembling attempts at wrapping an oval vase

It is despite this realisation that it’s all a bit of a waste of time, and money, that I nonetheless spend almost as much on paper and frills and ribbons and tags as I do on presents every Christmas. For me, my pile of presents, all shiny with little matching curls and co-ordinating wrappings, are my pride and joy. But the level of frustration which I have met this year has shaved off about 3 years of my life. These are my top-4 moans about wrapping:

First: the odd shapes. NOTHING I have wrapped this year has come in a square box. It’s all round jars, oval tins, long tubes and a mishmash of miscellaneous three-dimensional constructs, none of which lend themselves to precise wrapping. Why, I ask myself as I wrap, are there so many regulations and directives in the world, but not one directive which stipulates that all presents must come in a cardboard box, so that we wrappers have only straight edges to deal with? True, excess packaging isn’t exactly in the spirit of global preservation, but it’s biodegradable at least…

Barely improved ribbon-clad potato

Second: The ribbon. Ribbon is good. It’s curly, it covers up mistakes, and it holds the wrapping together where cellotape fails. But when you have an odd shaped present to contend with, there’s no securing it. Try tying a ribbon equally around the present’s 56 dimensions, and once again you’re liable to end up so frustrated that the temptation to throw the present across the room will be all too overwhelming. You need 4 pairs of hands to get the ribbon tied tightly and held in place over some of these presents (imagine me this morning, using my hands, legs, feet, what ever to get my ribbons secured into place…almost like playing twister minus the fun).

Third: The cellotape. Unless you have some mighty industrial-looking weighted cellotape holder, you end up trying to tear off a piece of tape while again struggling to hold down barely connecting folds of paper, thus ending up getting the tape completely tangled up, stuck on the paper where it’s not meant to be, and, invariably, you will never, ever be able to find the end of the tape at the very moment when your present’s life depends on it. Last year, my partner and I decked ourselves out in little cellotape wrist straps which make accessing little pre-cut strips of tape easy. They ran out after three presents.

Fourthly: Cutting the paper. Is it just me, or do you always cut the paper just short of where it needs to be? Confidently striding the scissors along the paper where I boldly declare it should be cut, only to find that I miss the mark by 1 centimetre. Then of course I end up patching up the holes like some kind of winter rug, again attempting to veil my mistakes in an excess of curly ribbon which needs to be so voluminous in its disguise that it ends up looking like a Louis XV hairpiece which the recipient then struggles for 5 minutes to remove.

So, with cellotape screwed up all over the floor, pieces of discarded ribbon in my hair, and fuming slightly from the time it has taken me to wrap just a handful of presents, I have at least finished for the morning. And here they are. Is it all worth it? Indubitably not. But is it part of the age-old experience of Christmas we all moan about but secretly love? Most certainly yes. I’m just thanking my blessings that I don’t have to wrap a Norm-shaped present this year.

Et voila, a bunch of Christmas presents wrapped and over with.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



4 Comments Post a comment
  1. millie #

    HAhaha! This is so hilarious! You just made my day! I have to cut up LOADS of little pieces of tape and stick them to anything in sight so that i don’t have to pause half way through holding the sides together! I only have an industrial roll of tape this year.

    Haha. I love the pic of the norms!! And i love your paper!

    December 15, 2011
    • delacybrown #

      Yeah that’s what I did… I put loads of little pieces of tape all over the edge of the table, but then the paper started sticking to them all so my wrapping paper looked like some kind of hairy cellotape monster! Grrr. Hope you’re enjoying the Norm cards!! x

      December 15, 2011
  2. millie #

    Yeah it wraps itself around the edge of the table and then you have to scrape it off and then the pattern of the wood imprints itself onto it! Just been doing my wrapping and was thinking of you when i was doing the finger on the string trick!! I have made clay labels which i saw on Kirsty Allsop’s site thanks to you!

    December 17, 2011
    • delacybrown #

      No way! I saw her making them on her Christmas programme!! Well done you! You’re getting so crafty over there it’s not fair… I want to come and visit! Woodgrain on cellotape… classic!

      December 17, 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: