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?
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…
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.
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