Gift wrapping is an underrated skill. When I was a kid, I certainly had not mastered the art of neatly encasing an item in decorative paper, despite my perfectionist tendencies. Every box I wrapped was burdened with crumpled corners, ragged edges, and way too much tape. My pile of presents consisted of lopsided pouches that looked as if they'd once led lives as nicely wrapped gifts before being forever disfigured by a disgruntled postal worker. I confess: I was wrapping impaired. Luckily, it appears I'm not the only one:
My gift wrapping is so bad, it has been formally recognized as outsider art.— Barry Crimmins (@crimmins) December 14, 2017
🆘🆘🆘🆘 I AM SO BAD AT GIFT WRAPPING I NEED TO TAKE A CLASS HELP— Amy Elizabeth 💜 (@AmyCim) December 16, 2014
My very crafty mother eventually took charge of wrapping the presents I gave away during the holidays (did I mention she paid for them, too?). But as an adult, I finally felt shame in taking credit for Mom’s work. That’s when I started using gift bags, God’s gift to those not blessed with the ability to estimate how much two-dimensional material is needed to cover a three-dimensional object.
Was it easier? Absolutely. Did it save me time? YES — I estimate that Santa could lay off half of the North Pole's elves if he took gift wrapping out of the equation. But my joyful discovery of this shortcut was short lived. Aside from the elves' right to earn a living (especially in the absence of elf unions), I realized that gift bags are just plain tacky. My newfound, albeit unpopular, opinion is that wrapping gifts is an integral part of holiday prep. You better not pout; I'm telling you why:
Wrapping paper makes gifts look exponentially prettier.
Though the recipient of your lovely gift may not have strong opinions about gift wrapping, I’m willing to bet that they subconsciously find a wrapped present more appealing than a bagged one that looks like it’s forcefully expelling its tissue paper contents. Yes, the contents of a present itself are important, but presentation matters.
Wrapping builds anticipation.
Remember the nearly unbearable mystery of a wrapped present? Paper and bows are literal veils of surprise that making the reveal way more exciting, and that fact remains way beyond your childhood years. If you can create such a magical illusion with some affordable materials and a little elbow grease, isn't that well worth it the trouble?
Unwrapping is the real gift.
Now, let's get to the important part: the unboxing. It's a completely anticlimactic thing when you’re simply reaching into a bag and brushing aside its tissue innards to pull out a gift. No, tearing the gift wrap off of a present is fantastically satisfying for reasons science cannot explain, and it can honestly even be a little cathartic — everyone deserves that amid the stress of the holiday season.
Gift wrap makes kids happy.
If your recipient is a kid, you should know it’s just wrong to give them a gift bag. Gift bags can only be appropriately used in one context: exchanged between adults as a sad, unspoken agreement to accept the death of holiday magic, mystery, and beauty.
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