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Inspired By: Church Potlucks

September 16, 2009

This Inspired By post is part of a mini-series on the things and people that inspire my gift wrapping. Inspiration can strike at any time! For more, click the “Inspired By” link at the bottom of this post.

The last “Inspired By” post was about my hunt for vintage scarves to use for gift wrapping. There’s too much good stuff to say about these scarves! This post is about what else inspires their use in my life.

I grew up a part of a predominantly Japanese-American, Presbyterian church. Although I didn’t always see this growing up, it is a vibrant and very nurturing spiritual community. And besides loving God, each other, and the world beyond the church, my home church throws a mean potluck!

Now, if you recall potlucks from your early adult years, chances are that three people brought chips and salsa, and maybe one other person just brought chips.

But my home church’s potlucks are, no exaggeration, feasts. Chicken wings, sushi rice, a crockpot of chili, Spam musubi, fruit platters, chow mein, rice krispie treats, rainbow0-layered Jello, Auntie Julianne’s famous sour cream twist cookies, etc, etc, etc… For some excellent photographs, please click here for images taken by talented family friend Jordan Nicholson.

But what does this have to do with gift wrapping? Well, often times, church ladies will put plastic wrap over their potluck dish, then wrap it in a furoshiki for transport. Originally used to hold one’s personal items at the Japanese public bathhouse, these versatile square cloths came to be used to hold merchants’ wares, boxed lunches, gifts, and more. It holds everything together and provides a little knotted handle, to boot!

courtesy Kraig Donald, CC-BY-SA-3.0

So, it was time to test out a scarf-wrapped gift, furoshiki style! I picked my scarf of choice. I liked this one for its unusual pattern and ample size.

I spread it out and placed a gift box on the diagonal. I took opposite corners and tied a square knot in the center of the box, then repeated with the remaining two corners. I tucked the ends of the first knot beneath the gathers, and, voila!

So cool! I was a bit afraid the feather pattern would be too bizarre for most people’s tastes. I was pleased to see how nice it looked gathered around the box.

This idea can be used for a traditional gift – or, you could riff on the church potluck idea to present a dinner host with a plate of cookies. The scarf will gift-wrap the food as well as protect it from slipping off the plate.

Since this was just a trial run, I look forward to the next present when I can actually use this idea!

This Inspired By post is the first of a mini-series on the things and people that inspire my gift wrapping. Inspiration can strike at any time!

Ideas for gift wrapping can pop up in unexpected places. The June/July issue of ReadyMade had a feature on a “remixed” picnic. The article featured different takes on the traditional potato salad, sandwiches, fruit salad, etc. For me, more exciting than the homegrown microgreen salad was the beautiful presentation of these picnic foods.

The prop stylist laid the dishes out on a rainbow of casually-arranged scarves. Even the homemade Vietnamese sandwiches were wrapped in colorful ones (see left-hand side, below).

I was reminded of a gift I wrapped for G. for our anniversary last year. Looking for a quick way to wrap his bluetooth headset, I knotted a silk scarf from his grandma around it.

It is a beautiful and earth-friendly way to wrap smaller gifts. When we headed out to Iowa this summer, I resolved to hunt down more vintage scarves to use for gift wrapping.

When he heard I had gone thrifting on our vacation, a friend asked, “Is there something different about the Goodwills in Iowa?” Good question. I explained that when you thrift shop here in Southern California, you’re basically going to find a lot more Forever 21.

Especially where G.’s grandparents live, there is a greater population of seniors. This is reflected in what ends up at the thrift stores. While I can’t speak definitively, I would say that there is a higher likelihood of finding vintage stuff in Iowa than there is our immediate area.

My mother-in-law knew just where to take me, and I found some very cool scarves in Iowa City and across the state in Spencer. I can’t wait to use these for gifts!

In the next Inspired By post: a trial run of a scarf-wrapped gift!