I am very happy to present The Gifted Blog’s first guest post, written by my cousin Mia! Mia is a talented writer, currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Washington. Her emphasis is in poetry, and she is the associate editor for the Lantern Review, a new online journal of Asian American poetry. I could go on and on, but instead I will leave you with her inventive gift wrapping story!

“My husband and I wrapped this gift for two of our newest friends, Jack and Bri. We are relatively new to the Seattle area, and this couple has eased our transition considerably through their warmth and hospitality. When they invited us over last month to celebrate Jack’s birthday, we realized that we not only wanted to celebrate him, but both of them!

While brainstorming gift ideas, we realized that we had become friends with two people whose names were related to TWO OF OUR FAVORITE CHEESES! Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. We certainly love our cheese.

We stopped by our local Trader Joe’s to purchase some whole grain crackers, a bottle of wine (which, we were told, would complement our cheese nicely), and most importantly, a block of Jack Cheese and Brie. I almost bought a piece of Pepper Jack, but decided that plain Jack was the way to go.

Gift-wrapping is one of my favorite past times, and creative gift-wrapping is even better. I pulled out my staple materials: a roll of pinstripe yellow paper from the San Francisco Wholesale Flower Market (I love it because it’s brown on one side, and yellow on the other), and two rolls of satin ribbon, one green and one orange. I’ve been using this color scheme for most of our presents lately because it fits virtually every occasion: birthdays, weddings, baby showers…

A few hours before the party, Mark set to work cutting out the letters of Jack’s name, and I began decorating the bottle of wine and disguising the labels on the cheese so they said “Jack” and “Bri,” rather than Jack Cheese and Light Brie. Several cute stickers from a Korean stationery store did the trick.

We then assembled the separate parts of the gift, loaded everything into the car, and tried not to giggle as we ascended the elevator to Jack and Bri’s apartment. We were a little worried that they had gotten the same present before, but were assured us that though the joke had been made, no one had actually given them actual blocks of cheese!”


One More Gift

November 12, 2009

I can’t believe I almost forgot to post about this present N. received for his birthday! When our friend S. heard I was starting The Gifted Blog, she perked up. “My co-worker made me the funniest wrapping paper last year!” she said, “It was covered with pictures of me!”

We thought this was such a funny image, receiving a gift with you all over it. So for N.’s first birthday, S. made him his own, customized gift wrap! This is a photo of him on an Oahu beach.

She printed it on 11×14″ paper and carefully cut and taped it together. Here’s a shot of the back to give you a better idea.

Inside was the delightful book Not a Box. The simple line drawings remind me so much of writing (and illustrating) notes in high school. Those were serious creative endeavors! I think all our pent up energy from being stuck in those few terrible, pointless classes came out in our note-writing.

Thank you, S. for such a fun addition to our library in such a fun package!

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.

My cousin D. was married this summer to the lovely R. I originally picked this picture where they look so serene, but this photo is more telling of their personalities.

Image courtesy Lisa Higaki

That’s D. high-fiving the entire wedding party as they enter the reception. D. is like a big kid – lots of fun, warm, and good-hearted. He just finished a rigorous graphic design program and is now designing professionally! R. is a good, mellow counterpart to D.’s energy. She was aptly described in a toast as “always prepared for the occasion” and has a great sense of style. It was great to celebrate with them.

We shopped for their wedding gift as a family. After fruitlessly wandering the “bath accessories” section of Macy’s, we decided on another item from their registry – a tea kettle. It’s something we enjoy using and hope they’ll get a lot of use out of.

I wrapped it with the celery-stamped kraft paper I blogged about a while ago. I totally had them in mind by the time I finished this fun stamping project. You can see I used the section of paper where the first row of stamps start. I thought it looked a bit more modern.

I tied a thin, grey ribbon around it to accent the silver ‘roses’. For embellishment, I tried out the grocery bag pom-pom from another previous post.

It looked way too small, and worse, rag-tag juxtaposed with the decorative paper. I didn’t have any suitable ribbon to make a bow. Time to improvise!

I liked the idea of a pom-pom, but clearly, this gift needed a bigger embellishment in proportion to the box. I remembered a Martha Stewart tutorial on making a tissue paper pom-pom. I’d seen these on a few blogs I admire but hadn’t tried making one myself.

It was very satisfying.

While I’ve shied away from more traditional looks in wrapping other wedding presents, this white blossom seemed really appropriate for the occasion. Below is a before-and-after to better compare the two poms.

Isn’t there a huge difference? It was a good reminder that sometimes, proportion is key. The plastic pom-pom looked great on other things, but on this gift it looked puny and a little sad. Match a bigger decoration to a bigger gift for an overall happier effect!

Do you think much about proportion when you wrap gifts? Is this information helpful, or does it stress you out? Let me know in the comments!

Kraft Paper Retrospective

October 29, 2009

While searching through old photos, I came across a few gift-related pictures I took before I started The Gifted Blog. I was amused to find evidence of my two rolls of kraft paper in action over the past two years. I purchased them at a dollar store and used the last of it to make the celery-stamped gift wrap. While it’s hard to believe those rolls lasted two years, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration.

I realize at some point I’m going to have to buy new paper, but, in fond remembrance of this kraft paper, I give you a modest retrospective!

Here’s the dining table in our old apartment strewn with gift wrapping  stuff.

These two are of G. opening a gift two Christmases ago. I gave him – don’t laugh – a bottle of castile soap. Unwhimsical and utterly practical, I know. This is a man who told me the best gift he ever received was a suction-cup soap holder to go on the wall of his dorm shower.

Here he is opening a Father’s Day gift last year. He wasn’t a father yet but we were expecting. I gave him a styptic pencil, which staunches minor cuts, to use in his shaving routine. I was happy to find something to combat a pet peeve of G.’s (i.e. shaving nicks).

And finally, here’s a gift from G. to me, packed in a basket we took with us on an anniversary trip to San Diego. Note the childbirth book – we were a couple months away from our due date!

Kraft paper, you have served us well. Here’s to many more gifts wrapped!


October 19, 2009

Our beloved baby turned one!

This little boy has brought so much joy to our lives, and we were very happy to celebrate him. We thought we’d throw a party, but when we thought of all the people in his life that we’d want to be there, it sounded overwhelming.

So we had a pretty normal, but celebratory, day. We snuggled in bed after he woke up. We opened presents with him throughout the day. We had a fun playdate. We also gave him his own piece of cake.

He ate it in about two bites. I really like the expression on his face.

He didn’t really understand the present-opening part, but because this is a blog about gift wrapping, of course I have to mention it. Here is a selection of N.’s birthday presents. (No offense to those that didn’t make the picture! These are just the ones that were around for my daytime photo shoot.)

In the back left you can see a gift from my dad’s parents. This one had a tag with a little origami onsie on it – I think my grandma must have gotten it at a craft fair. In front of it is a gift from my parents. My mom put the gift in chartreuse tissue paper and collaged N.’s name on it, ransom-note style (but cuter, since he wasn’t being held captive, and also since she used a Japanese illustration for the second letter).

In the front center is a present from my in-laws, wrapped in the Sunday funnies. How fitting that the kid-centered For Better or For Worse and Family Circus are the ones on the front! (Not that N. would have minded, but I don’t think Doonesbury would have had the same effect…) The dancing hamsters in the back are a ‘talking’ card that had a message recorded from them embedded in it. N. loved this – the first picture in the post is him flapping this card around.

Last but not least is a gift from my aunt, uncle, and cousins. It is wrapped in a plastic gift bag decorated with stars. They brought it all the way down from Seattle, and the bag struck me as another wrapping item that can withstand travel well.

Happy birthday, baby! We look forward to another wonderful year with you.

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!

Wrap Story: Mini Assistant

August 31, 2009

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!

My sister- and brother-in-law have been parents to a beautiful little girl for over a year now. Back when they were expecting, a baby shower was thrown for them with a book theme. The idea was to stock the little one’s library with stories for her to enjoy later.

Being half a country away, we weren’t able to go to the shower, but I was excited to get a copy of a personal childhood favorite for our niece-to-be. When I had the opportunity to babysit in the weeks before the baby shower, I knew exactly the project for my young friend:

Decorate wrapping paper!

Here you see the kraft paper in action. I used a few strips of painter’s tape to secure one end to the table and weighted the roll down at the other end to keep it from curling up. (I suppose that is one downside of kraft paper – it keeps a very strong curl, making it somewhat difficult to manage.)

My young assistant drew some lines himself, but he was more interested in having me hold the pens and then moving my hand around. Hey, whatever works.

I found some cute teal ribbon in my stash that matched one of the colors of ink. I paired it with a sheer gold ribbon to make a bow.  I really like the idea of kid-made wrapping paper for another kid. And I cannot wait until my own baby is old enough for art projects like this one!