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!


Thank You

October 28, 2009

It’s been 3 months since I started The Gifted Blog.

I was pretty nervous in the beginning. I felt tentative. I wanted to make sure I had enough to write about before I started a dedicated webspace to gift wrapping. I didn’t want to fizzle out.

It made me too nervous to write straight into WordPress, so I began by typing drafts in Notepad. I scoured each draft, brainstormed series ideas, and made lists of future posts.

And now, with 37 posts behind me, I’ve loosened up a little and am really enjoying it! I am grateful to God for giving me this creative outlet.

Thank you to everyone who reads my stories. I like hearing from you in the comments and by e-mail, and am tickled every time I find out I have a new reader. Thanks also to Stephanie B, Silverkeys and Luci for the recent blog mentions. I feel a tiny bit famous.

And now I have a favor to ask. I am planning ahead for the rest of 2009’s posts and want your input! My desire is for The Gifted Blog to be a dialogue, not monologue.

I have some ideas on the back burner and would love to hear: what would you like to hear about as Christmas approaches? What about an advice column? Do you already love wrapping gifts and am I preaching to the choir, or is there a specific way I can help facilitate your gift wrapping experience? Have you ever wondered what it means to wrap a manly gift? More importantly, would you like to explore with me how to wrap a manly gift?

And of course, any other ideas and feedback are welcome. Thanks!

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.

Tutorial Tryouts are trial runs of DIY ideas from the internet and other sources. If you find a tutorial you’d like me to test (or if you’ve tried and documented one yourself!), let me know in the comments. For more, click the “Tutorial Tryout” link in the right-hand column.

If you haven’t caught the undercurrent of thrifyness running through The Gifted Blog, I’m about to officially out myself.

This Tutorial Tryout is from The Complete Tightwad Gazette III. When she heard about my extracurricular reading, my friend said, “Charissa, you are cool, but if you think something is useful you will use the most frumpy things.” I can’t deny it.

But doesn’t this look amazing? I made it from a ramen package! Here is the reader tip.

We don’t buy chips, so I used what we had on hand. G. bought a multi-pack of these noodles on his last trip to Ranch 99.

I cut the top and bottom off a package and opened it flat. Then I cut it into strips. I thought about cutting in a spiral as mentioned in the reader tip, but it seemed like the packaging seam would create irregularities in the ribbon.

Then, treating each strip like curling ribbon, I pulled it taut along the scissors blade.

When all the strips were curled, I gathered them and held them in the middle. Then I used a strip to tie them together.

And that was it! I really love how the packaging printing shows through as the ribbon spirals. The bow is full and lush, yet there’s a hint that there’s something quirky going on. It would be fun to see what this looks like with the printed side facing out.

What do you think? Is this tightwaddery a yea or nay?


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.

If you like the hand-drawn look but aren’t quite ready to take your doodles public, here are some free, printable gift tags from Sarah of The Small Object.

So funny and cute. It took me a while to ‘get’ her aesthetic, but I like it. She seems very detail-oriented. Even these freebies are designed with a space to write in the occasion, to/from lines, and some extras for a little note!

Based on traditional Japanese furoshiki, illustrator Jenn Playford has started a line of cloth gift wraps printed with her own designs. I first heard about Furochic through CraftStylish, where they hosted a giveaway.

I had just begun The Gifted Blog and was excited to see an alternative to wrapping with paper. I didn’t win, but Jenn graciously followed up with me to send some samples. Thank you, Jenn!

Of course you can wrap gifts with any kind of fabric, but I appreciate the creative license she has been able to take with these in printing them with her own graphics. My only complaint is that her appealing designs don’t show up quite as crisply as I would like on the fabric.

Jenn also recently published a book titled Wrapagami, which shows how to execute a variety of wrapping techniques with a simple square piece of cloth.

Today I gave a Furochic a try on a fine bottle of cabernet we happened to have in the pantry.

Using the pictures on the Furochic label as a guide (similar to these), I wrapped the bottle in the cloth. My first try was not so cute. I went back to tighten up the fabric and make the knots a little crisper. Voila!

I like the little handle embellishment on the top. My husband saw the bottle and said, “Whoa. That looks crazy. Like something from Dr. Seuss.”

The Furochic are a nice, generous size and can be used to wrap even odd-shaped gifts. To pass on the generosity, I’m happy to announce a giveaway of this Cherry Blossom Furochic!

To enter, leave a comment before 8pm Friday (PST) telling us the gift you imagine wrapping in it. The lucky winner will receive the Furochic pictured below, which includes a length of grosgrain ribbon and coordinating gift tag.

Good luck!