Wrap Story: Easy Does It

November 23, 2009

This Wrap Story is part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link in the right-hand column!

We were invited to a church friend’s birthday lunch and G. kindly watched N. so I could go. I expected a small gathering, but to my surprise we filled two banquet-length tables on the patio of Daisy Mint!

I gave the birthday girl a notepad made with papers retrieved from the recycling bins of MOCA (by me, who else). I made it a card and gift in one by writing the birthday wishes on the first page of the pad.

As you can see, I just tied a sheer ribbon into a bow around the notepad. I thought it might be best to keep it simple for a simple gift.

Wrap Story: Shape Shifting

November 11, 2009

This Wrap Story is part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link in the right-hand column!

Our friends and neighbors, J. and C., are having a baby – soon! We threw them a shower recently to celebrate their growing family.

We put together a bedtime-routine kit. We learned with N. that it helps to have a bedtime ritual, a series of things that always happens before lights out so they know it’s time to wind down. Pictured below are a lullaby CD, two books, and a SwaddleMe (which was great for when N. learned how to bust out of his swaddling blankets).

I also gave them two pairs of earplugs in case all of the above doesn’t work.

I saved this bag from a gift we were given for N. It was too cute not to. But it was a little bent, so instead of saving the whole thing, I cut circles from the patterned paper and saved the four hanging ‘badges’. I have had these little circles for month. And finally, a reason to use them!

Because there were so many square and rectangular gifts in the basket, I thought it looked a bit flat overall. I wanted to make each present a little different. More importantly, I wanted to give some of them a different shape for variety. I wrapped one of the books in plain white packing paper.

Then I wrapped it with a band of yellow, gauzy paper and added two stacked circles from the bag. The ‘badge’ was originally sitting on a little foam spacer. Here, it floats above the green plaid circle and adds dimension.

Here are the rest of the gifts. I tied a bow on the top of the other book to break up the homogeneity of the rectangular shapes. I put the CD in long sheets of pink tissue paper to make another new shape and add variety. The CD is one of the shortest gifts in the basket, but with the tissue paper it’s the tallest! The earplugs got their own recycled box that I topped with a decorative marbled paper.

Here’s another shot of the end result! I was really pleased with how this turned out. For some reason, the word ‘commercial’ came to mind when I looked at it. It could be because of the decorations I transferred from the gift bag, but it felt like something that would appeal to people on a broader level. It felt exciting to do something informed by my normal taste but somehow different.

And I didn’t mention it before, but the sex of the baby is a surprise! It was fun to use lots of colors. Not that you should feel stuck with using baby blue or pink – expecting parents receive so many gifts in those colors that I think it’s fine to mix it up.

This Wrap Story is part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link in the right-hand column!


We know E. and B., who were married this summer, through our church. E. is the one whose bridal shower rose I documented in an earlier post.

This is one unique couple. They registered at some unusual places: Ten Thousand Villages and the gorgeous Heath Ceramics. In their desire to live simply, their first home is in a trailer park! Here they are happily riding into their outdoor reception on a tandem bike.


Image by Michelle McCotter

I got them some pottery from the Pasadena City College ceramics sale since I was so jazzed about it. I hoped the gift was in the spirit of their registry tastes.

There were a few challenges. First, I’d wrapped M. & M.’s similar gift in a gift bag. I wanted to try something different, but I didn’t have a box the right size. Inspiration hit when I noticed our neighbor was using a plastic food box to store her son’s toys. Ah ha!

We’d been eating salads all summer long and already had an empty box of mixed greens ready to go.

I cut the bride and groom’s initials from security envelopes and glued these and a red heart onto white cardstock. Next, I dip-dyed some paper I had to pad the bowls. I like this effect – it has the benefit of looking good even when crinkled.

I interspersed the dyed paper with strips of newsprint to protect the bowls, put on the lid, added a purple ribbon, and voila!

I enjoyed getting resourceful for this Wrap Story. I hope the gift and its wrapping reflect some of the quirkiness and shared values of our friends E. and B.

This Wrap Story is a part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link at the bottom of the post!

Time flies, and before we knew it, our niece was about to turn one! Inspired by the cute baby stuff at Unique L.A. last May, I set out to make her a personalized t-shirt. I embroidered her name onto pear fabric and used this tutorial from the lovely  Shim + Sons blog to affix it to a stripy shirt.

I like how it turned out. The wrapping was quite simple, since I was in a rush to ship it to the opposite coast. I wrote out a tag and pinned it to the shirt to mimic a standard apparel tag. I was excited to use this teeny kitty pin that I have had for ages.

I used some hand-dyed tissue paper to wrap the shirt and popped it into a manilla envelope. Nothing too crazy. I drew a few flowers and leaves for fun.

All set to go!

This Wrap Story is a part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link in the right-hand column!

As the wedding of our friends H. and J. approached earlier this year, I was excited to plan their gift. They are a unique couple, and I knew that the bride for sure is a fan of handmade things.

Personally, one of my most-appreciated wedding gifts was a few books of stamps. Utterly practical, these were quickly put to use on the countless numbers of thank you cards we wrote.

I saw this tutorial on making a fabric envelope and got inspired. These two posts helped seal the deal. I was making one!

I wanted to gather all the essentials together so the thank-you writing process could flow. Also, the couple’s wedding theme was ‘correspondence’, with even a typewriter on the invitation. Perfect!

I picked a combination of fabrics that I hoped were suitable for a man and a woman. I sewed up the envelope and added a little slot for a pen on the left-hand side. Then I filled it with some handmade cards, postage stamps, postcards made out of cereal and other food boxes, and one of my favorite kinds of pens (we used this exact kind to write many a thank you card).

I had a few embroidered tags leftover from my last big creative project (a reconstructed t-shirt and accessory line called Phoenix) and couldn’t resist adding that last handmade touch!

I put the kit in a patterned gift bag and taped a card with a contrasting design on the outside. That was the official wrapping for this gift. However, it was wrapped before The Gifted Blog began, so I didn’t think to take a picture of it. Luckily, H. was kind enough to bring the gift to our apartment so I could snap some photos (yes, the kind of thing you can only ask of a friend…”Um, can you bring the gift that I gave you back to my house?”).

I like this as an alternative to throwaway wrapping. It might be nice to make a variation for gift certificates or other flat items.

This Wrap Story is a part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link at the bottom of the post!

A friend, E., was married this summer, and I had the privilege of attending her bridal shower in the weeks leading up to the big day. It was a gray morning, but we enjoyed good company and funny games at a neighborhood park.


Images courtesy Jessica Jew

By this time I had started work on Gifted, a line of reusable gift wrap. I was in the process of sewing several cloth gift bags, but what next? Knowing the gift bags couldn’t accommodate every size gift, I wanted to make something that could be used with a larger present.

With the goal of making another beautiful, user-friendly product, I made a rose that could be used in place of a bow. I had great material on hand – a cashmere top that never fit right. It felt luxurious, perfect for a bridal shower gift. I was pleased that its deep red matched one of the bride and groom’s wedding colors.

I sewed the rose and attached it to an unbleached elastic band. I got excited about the thought that E. could use it again. I glued two paper leaves to the box (wrapped, as you see, with kraft paper) and used one as the “to/from” tag.

Present-opening time! Here’s the happy bride-to-be.

She opened the gift and something spontaneous happened. Some of the shower guests said, “Oh! You could use it as a headband!” E. obliged and put the rose on. Doesn’t she look cute? I felt so happy that this gift wrapping turned into a small experience of its own, contributing to the fun, festive atmosphere.

It’s probably too lofty a goal to have every gift I wrap turn into a dress-up experience, but it was pretty fun to have it turn out this way this time.

This Wrap Story is a part of a mini-series, documenting every present I’ve wrapped since the launch of this blog. For more, click the “Wrap Story” link at the bottom of the post!

We were lucky enough to vacation in Hawaii with my family this summer. Gorgeous! The beach house where we stayed put handmade soaps in every bathroom. When I found out these luscious-smelling bars were made locally, I wanted to check it out.

We saw a flier for a factory tour and went. The tour itself was slightly underwhelming (a drying vat of soap doesn’t provide much entertainment), but we got to sample more of their products and pick out omiyage for friends back home.

I got a bar of mango soap and a lip balm for my friend M.’s birthday gift. And, not knowing exactly what I would do with them, I collected some sea glass, pebbles, and shells from the beach.

At home, I found some organza bags, formerly favor packaging at my cousin’s wedding. I put the sea-things in one of them, along with a business card from the shop and the lip balm.

The other bag just fit the bar of soap.

This idea – gift-wrapping with mementos from a particular destination – can work many ways. If you plan to give a gift from a certain locale (even your own town!), keep an eye out for something to wrap it with. Something that’s ubiquitous one place can be novel everywhere else. Commonplace things (a take-out menu, local newspaper, tourist map, bus token, fallen leaf, etc.) can be used as wrapping paper, the gift tag, or an embellishment.

I was excited to make the gift, made in Hawaii, even MORE “Hawaii” with the things collected from the beach. M. was happy to receive the present, and said the glass, shells, and pebbles would find a place in her beach-themed bathroom. Perfect!

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