10 Things I Just Realized While Wrapping Christmas Presents

1. It will destroy your soul.

Granted, there was a time and place when I greatly enjoyed swaddling carefully-selected gifts in whimsically-printed paper. I would spend hours ensuring that each box o’ joy was so meticulously enshrined in festive wrapping that angels would descend from Heaven and sing praises about the craftsmanship. That is no longer the case. Now I just want the dang things done and shoved under the tree as quickly as possible.

2. The discreet use of tape is highly overrated.

I used to be an acolyte of the school which believed that if you could see the Scotch tape lovingly applied to yuletide packages, then you just didn’t care enough. The tape should be placed so precisely that the gift recipient would swear that artisans of great fame were responsible for the finished product. But I dropped out of that school. Now the tape is used as a binding tool, physically forcing the wrapping paper to do what I want it to do, even if it means we end up with weird wads of paper mashed into the ends of the package.

3. I can no longer cut in a straight line.

Another skill that has eroded over time is the ability to slice off the required bits of wrapping paper at perfect 90-degree angles from the baseline, thus ensuring that the next person to use the tube of paper has a clean and geometrically-pleasing starting point. My snipping with the scissors starts out swimmingly for the first few inches, but then things go terribly awry and I end up with a ragged edge that looks like the San Andreas Fault. My partner is not amused, and there are heated discussions.

4. I apparently had a fetish concerning the purchasing of “after-Christmas” discount wrapping paper at some point.

We have tons of this stuff. There are countless bins of paper that I don’t even remember buying, shoved into random corners of the attic. I think it’s fair to say that I won’t need to purchase more wrapping paper until 2027. And some of the patterns I picked out? I have no idea what inspired me to purchase the New Kids on the Block “Figgy Pudding Tribute” roll of paper. Maybe I had bronchitis.

5. The TO and FROM areas on gift tags are entirely too small.

Dear low-paid people who make these tags: Not everybody in America is named “Ann” or “Biff”. Expand, please. And while you’re at it, quit making those glossy tags where the ink smears and it looks like I have some motor-skill issues.

6. I have lost interest in bows.

These things just irritate me now. Visiting the past again, I actually used to make bows, using rolls of ribbon and this plastic thing with spokes. After several hours of threading and twisting and copious epithets, I would suddenly and magically be the proud owner of several intricate displays of glossy art, treasures that would send Patti LaBelle running to the nearest hair salon.

I don’t do that anymore. In fact, I don’t do bows at all. Just flat packages, because the bows are guaranteed to get crushed when you cram all those presents in the back of the car and drive 20 hours to the house of the relative who is hosting this year’s awkward, wincing marathon of a gift-exchange extravaganza. Nobody likes smashed gift-toppings. Save yourself the pain.

7. There’s no shame in random gaps in the wrapping.

So the square of paper that you just cut out is apparently FUBAR and doesn’t adequately hide the entire thingy you are trying to cover? No worries. Just make sure that critical words on the packaging are nicely obscured, and you’re good to go. It’s not like anybody is actually going to care, what with the entire planet now being afflicted with attention-deficit disorders of one kind or another. They’re just going to rip the thing open, squeal with fake Southern Belle delight, and then toss the thing aside and never look at it again. At least you didn’t waste any time putting a bow on it.

8. I made the mistake of actually sitting on the floor while doing the wrapping.

This would not have been a problem in my more limber years. But as we all know, things and bodies don’t work quite the way they used to function. Once I was in the lower altitudes, I was pretty much staying there unless a fire broke out in the house. So there I am, wallowing around on the floor, grunting and trying to reach for the next present that needed to be wrapped, only to discover that I had stupidly placed it way on the other side of the room. (Related Side Note: How is it that the scissors that you just used disappear the instant that you set them down and you have to search for five minutes every time you need them?)

And when I needed a fresh beverage? It quickly became clear that I had made a serious error in assuming a compromising position. Try convincing Scotch the Cat to go get Daddy another beer. The success rate with that endeavor often leads to disappointment, hurt feelings on both sides, and a parched status bordering on hospitalization. (That ungrateful little hairball-launcher better shape up or there’s going to be a harsh performance review in his future.)

9. Some companies maliciously create products that are difficult to wrap.

Why can’t they just put the item in a standard box and be done with it? Doesn’t that make more sense for everybody? But noooo, these evil manufacturers insist on the most jacked-up packaging they can design, with odd angles and things that stick out and sharp pointy bits that will rip the wrapping paper to shreds. I think these companies should have to pay hefty government fines until they knock it off and act right.

Yes, I know that I could just put the unruly gift into a wrap-technician-pleasing box and go from there. But it’s a known household fact that you can never find a box when you need one. Two days ago, of course, there had been hundreds of empty boxes all over the house, tossed in piles by irresponsible people who didn’t care. This led to me bellowing “who the hell left these boxes EVERYWHERE!”, followed by a very quiet evening meal where the perpetrators did not care to speak to me after I made them haul the boxes to the trash. Clearly, I wasn’t planning ahead.

And I could also take advantage of those “holiday” gift bags, with their symbols of high-cholesterol Santas and fornicating reindeer. But using a gift bag just seems like a cop-out to me. The bags might as well come printed with a disclaimer stating “It’s two in the morning, I’m tired of wrapping, so I’m just going to throw your over-priced Pier 1 ornament into this bag and cram some tissue on top of it. I still love you, though. Kiss, kiss.”

Maybe it’s that tissue paper that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can never get that crinkly mess to look right. Some folks are a wiz at it, sculpting delicate snow angels and an origami Baby Jesus out of the stuff. My tissue paper looks like I ran over it in the driveway and then shoveled it into a designer bag featuring dancing chipmunks and special dots that, if you scratch and sniff, smell just like fruitcake.

10. Despite all of the above, I actually do like to wrap Christmas presents.

I just have to force myself to set aside a big chunk of hours and pick a room where I can seal myself off from the rest of the house and all those prying eyes. (“Yes, you were trying to peek, now get out of here you wretched little urchin.”) I also have to make sure I have everything I need so I don’t wander out of the wrapping chamber and get distracted by things like a Will & Grace rerun or a couch that is begging me to sit on it for a while so it can feel loved again.

Oh, and at some point I must play the entire “Christmas Portrait” album by The Carpenters. It’s not the holidays without it, and it takes me back to those innocent, less-bitter, child-eyed times when I really did care about not being able to see the tape on the packages as I wrapped up the tiny, dime-store goodies I had carefully picked out for my family after I saved my allowance for months and months.

And that Carpenters strategy worked just fine this evening. I managed to get twenty gifts prepped and ready to go, an admirable amount if I do say. But now I have to get up off this floor, and that’s going to take a while. Thankfully, I was able to convince Scotch (who had heard the rumors about his next performance review) to bring me my laptop so I could blog about my experiences while I build up the strength to get back on my feet.



(Originally posted in “The Sound and The Fury” on 12/16/11 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 12/29/13 and 12/04/16. Some changes have been made as I’m really trying to control my tendency to create run-on sentences but something tells me this will be a curse that I have to live with forevermore and I will just have to be a brave little toaster and accept the fact that I often don’t use periods when a period is something that the reader is really aching for because they are out of mental breath and they don’t remember what I said at the beginning of this sentence because it has gone on for two days now and they just want to be released from this run-on hell.)


60 replies »

  1. You have just described my gift-wrapping life to a tea. This year I forgot that I am getting on a bit and made the mistake of kneeling on the wooden floor to wrap. When I tried to get up to make a cup of tea, I discovered that my knees had ceased to exist and had been replaced with flaming rocks of pain. All in all, though, I did feel rather warm and fuzzy afterwards 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am very disappointed with the recent performances of my knees as well. I can no longer kneel or sometimes even squat without painful feedback. It feels like my cartilage is shrinking. Is that even a thing? I’d google it, but I’m sure that would just lead to horror stories about how my life is doomed and I might as well give up all hope… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • When one has to start Googling knees I fear it’s all over. Hold off until one of them pops completely, I say. Have a super Christmas and New Year – I’m so pleased I found your blog, I look forward to you entertaining me in 2018 x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. At least you don’t use old newspapers to wrap gifts. I would ask my then toddler kid, to scribble using crayons on old newspapers and use it as avant-garde wrapping paper.
    You are a better person than I, brother mine.

    Liked by 3 people

      • My hb leaves everything to the last minute and I can always hear him at midnight on Christmas Eve wrapping my present (that I have taken to choosing and ordering myself of late to avoid receiving some dinky little gadget he thinks is the bee’s knees but I would never use in a month of Sundays!). One year he wrapped it in newspaper because I refused to let him use the wrapping paper I had taken time, energy and money to buy, with much forethought and preparation 😄 He learnt his lesson, he now buys paper, but the cheesiest cheapest he can find! Merry Christmas 🎄

        Liked by 2 people

    • Gobblefunkist: My initial thought was that the avant-garde newspaper angle could prove rather festive, but then I reflected and realized that there hasn’t been an actual newspaper in this house for a good fifteen, maybe twenty years. Yet there was a time in my life when I couldn’t consider it a satisfactory day unless I had spent a few hours perusing such. Oh, how things change…

      Laurel: Have I mentioned lately that I really can’t stand your Ex? Of course, you have much more reason to do so than I, but still, what an asshat. (I’m in a jovial holiday mood, eh?) 😉


  3. Great to find out that people still wrap presents, and did’t all turn to those mean gift bags. I’m a Christmas freak – and that being said I love all it’s related to it – wrapping presents is for me the cherry on top :). I love the sound of the scissors when cutting the paper :D. Ah, I can’t wait :P.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I love the sound of the scissors as well! And then there’s that special moment when you get the engineering just right and the scissors glide right through the paper without even having to open and close them… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This made my day! You just put into words what I’ve been thinking earlier after wrapping a gift for the person in the office whose name I picked and who was so unlucky to have been the only one to not receive her gift today because I didn’t care to remember that the Christmas party was supposed to be today.😆 And I’m so guilty about the gift bag!😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! This piece was originally written several years ago, and I have long since succumbed to the gift bag angle in many cases, especially since my previously fined-tuned wrapping skills have deteriorated to the point where it’s simply much safer for everyone involved if I go the bag route… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is why, when we were all together last year we did Secret Santa … We pretended it was socialist statement that ensured the poorest did not feel awkward when giving their £1 Shop trash and receiving their exclusive bee-spit products from hives blessed by the Pope but the reality was the collective lost will to live (and resentment about the poorest winning in the receiving stakes every year). As a point of interest this year I am spending Christmas tout seul …. do we thing my brilliant idea may have had a bearing in this? 😙

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now, now, let’s not dwell on how any role-playing we may have done in the past might be coming back to bite us. It just won’t do, especially for me, as I’ve had many instances of experimental theater that seemed quite inspirational at the time but I now look back on and wonder why no one bothered to introduce me to a strict drug regimen long before they actually did. It does trouble me to some extent that you will be tout seul, but I’ve also spent many holidays in such a manner and there’s a certain amount of peaceful reflection that can nourish the soul when nostalgia is your companion…


      • I’m volunteering at the big Christmas Eve dinner for the lonely old of Grenoble …. taking three in my car and then serving dinner in a Santa hat and being entertaining which will doubtless involve games I don’t understand and dancing polka with old fellows who know more of life than I. The following morning I’m doing a homeless run with parcels I have made up of socks, mits, vouchers from one of the coffee houses and chocolate plus hygiene bits and something tiny and Christmassy and for those that don’t run away, a little time chatting. Then I’m home to watch it’s a wonderful life and binge eat foie gras and drink my body weight in Champers and watch the lights twinkle…. all shall be well 💛

        Liked by 3 people

        • And now I’m actually envying you and what sounds like a very satisfying agenda. Terry and I haven’t envisioned much beyond “let’s get a bunch of really good bits of nosh and try to clear out everything queued up on the DVR”. Due to scheduling conflicts, we won’t actually be doing “Christmas” with either of our families until the turn of the year…


          • I am looking forward to it. Enjoy your time just the two of you …. get some badass food and just revel in downtime. The families will surely be delighted to see you at New Year …. the anticipation will make hearts grow fonder. HOnestly 😉

        • ‘All shall be well’ – that’s a relief, your aloneness has been taxing me a bit. When you’re watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ imagine me sitting alongside, mouthing all the words and working my way through a box of (recycled) tissues (as in tissues made from recycled paper, not used tissues that are being pressed into service once again!), some raw chocolate covered almonds and a vegan Baileys. Or not, if that thought fills you with horror 😳😱😄

          Liked by 2 people

          • I shall imagine that with the greatest of pleasure. The recycled tissues generally become recycled by dint of never having enough for that film. I would normally watch it on Christmas Eve but I will be with the oldies. I believe the Mayor is making an appearance (perhaps he will be Santa) …. I hope to shake his hand – he is very ‘Green’. Nothing vegan fills me with horror. As I once remarked to you, I have been vegetarian and despite my flip remark about foie gras, I eat little meat now. Whether I will ever make it to vegan I do not know … so much of life is unknown but what I do know is that you are such a beacon to follow in leading a cleaner life and you look amazing on it. Even if you don’t always feel that way. X

            Liked by 2 people

  6. Funny, timely, and so true, Brian. I think your kitty cat might be a little confused. Maybe this Christmas, you could ask Santa for a dog named “Beer” that can fetch you a scotch.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Merry Christmas to you and yours as well! I’ve managed to whittle down the gift-giving process to just a few holdouts in my family. (Seriously, other than the wee ones, why should we be spending time and money buying things that none of us really need at our age?) As for the knee pain, I just need to get off my ass more often instead of sitting here at this laptop… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, I was wondering what to get the man who seems to have everything – and now you have told me, so here ya go – HAPPY CHRISTMAS, have a bunch of ………………………………….
    Now, don’t use them all at once, treasure them, use them sparingly, and when you run out of them, let me know and I’ll send you some more.
    Much love

    Liked by 1 person

  8. LOL! This one cracked me up! I can so much relate it’s almost scary! 😂 Nowadays I try to convince myself and the lucky one gifted that it’s not the wrapping paper that counts but the content. 😉 But I do miss that part of me that enjoyed doing all this so much and hope it will come back again.
    Merry Christmas, Brian! 🎁🎀🎄😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Despite all my snarkiness, I really do miss the many long evenings I used to spend wrapping everything just right, and I equally wish I could get back into that spirit. And I probably will, as just revisiting all of these Christmas posts already has me halfway there.
      Merry Christmas to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Re no.6 I have mentioned the delights of our local Waitrose before, well, they have also put a lot of thought into this problem and have come up with a splendid idea: they sell (excellent quality) wrapping paper that is all marked out on the back with straight lines going both ways! Genius! The scissors I can’t help with cos I have no notion what happens to them, I imagine they’re in cahoots with the biros I lay down and which also trot off for a party somewhere when I turn my back. Merry Christmas, Brian 🎄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I LOVE it when I stumble across that rare roll of wrapping paper that has the guidelines. It makes things so much easier, and I really don’t understand why all of the paper companies don’t do the same thing.

      I like your thoughts on where the scissors might have scampered. Makes perfect sense to me.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours as well, Chris!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tape happens. Into every life a little tape must stick. With tape, who needs enemies? If at first tape doesn’t succeed, try try again with Velcro. A friend with tape is a friend with tape indeed. It works in all situations with a grand cliche pool rich for swimming in (full of tape.) FYI Fact: If you couldn’t tell, Richard M. Nixon was an infamously tape challenged individual. I think this should be in his descriptive placard at Madame Tussauds House of Wax and Horror Chiller Monster Theater in 3-D.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I can so relate to number 9, why do some brands insist in selling products in irregular shaped packages… and who writes as small as the to and from print on gift tags? I know I certainly don’t but Luckly I often enough manage to cut a straight line😀

    Liked by 1 person

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