My family members don’t even need to look at the tags anymore to know which Christmas presents come from me.
Almost always, they’re adorned with wide ribbon tied in a simple shoelace bow.
I like to think the look is classy. Alton DuLaney would probably say it’s a little plain.
DuLaney has me rethinking my wrapping strategy. The 2008 winner of Scotch Brand’s Most Gifted Wrapper Contest puts my stripped-down style to shame with his elegant embellishments, which run the gamut from silk flowers to cooking utensils.
“Put the present in presentation!” the Los Angeles paper crafter urged with chirpy enthusiasm when we talked by phone recently. I pictured Richard Simmons wielding a spool of ribbon, coaching me to fashion bow loops till I felt the burn.
DuLaney just thinks gifts are worth a little effort. If you go to the trouble of giving something special, he reasoned, shouldn’t the presentation be special, too?
Aha! I thought. Here is a kindred spirit, someone sure to share my disdain for gift bags. Surely he’ll support my campaign to end the stuffing of presents into sacks like so many canned goods.
I was wrong.
“I’m all for gift bags. … There are some amazing gift bags out there,” he said. Of course, he wouldn’t just stop with dropping a gift into a bag stuffed with tissue. He might replace the handles with beautiful ribbon, he said, or maybe tie on an ornament.
Now we’re talking.
I asked DuLaney to share his best wrapping tips. Here’s what he suggested:
• Gather your supplies. DuLaney keeps everything he needs in one place — a box of ribbon, a box of bows, scissors, paper and all sorts of tape — regular tape, double-sided tape and tape with decorative designs.
Then, when he’s ready to wrap, he takes everything out so he can see what he has. That helps him envision designs and combinations, he explained. “You cross-pollinate inspiration” when you see everything together, he said.
• Work on a good surface. He likes to wrap standing at a counter. It’s more comfortable, it gives him a better view of his work, and it allows him to put his weight behind tasks such as creating crisp creases in paper.
Clear the surface before you start so you have plenty of room to work, and wipe it down so it’s clean. Wash your hands before you start wrapping, too. You don’t want oily fingerprints marring your hard work.
• Use sturdy gift boxes. They’re much easier to work with than the flimsy, collapsible kind. Luckily, good boxes are easier to find now in places like office-supply and craft stores.
• No exposed paper edges evah! OK, DuLaney didn’t really go all Joan Crawford over this issue, but he does like the neat look produced by folding under the edges of wrapping paper. He also likes to line up seams with the edges of boxes, so they’re less noticeable.
Make sure your corners are tight, he said, and take the time to go around all the edges to crease them with your thumb and forefinger and make them crisp.
• Go easy on the tape. Either use double-stick tape or hide the tape pieces with ribbons and bows. Or use decorative tape and make it part of the package design.
• Use what you have. You don’t have to wrap in wrapping paper. Newsprint, magazine pages, the inside surface of brown grocery bags and wallpaper all work fine, too.
• Customize. DuLaney likes to use decorative tape to add designs to packages. He might add stripes of floral-print tape to a gift wrapped in silver paper, for example, or add a strip of decorative tape to each loop of a bow. The tape is so attractive it can even take the place of ribbon, he said.
• Be inspired. DuLaney looks for inspiration everywhere. He once used a picture of a feather dress by fashion designer Alexander McQueen as the inspiration for embellishing a gift with black feathers.
• Break the rules. No one said Christmas gifts have to be wrapped in red and green. “If you like yellow, then wrap your gifts in yellow,” he said.
• Make the wrapping part of the present. Add an embellishment that relates to the gift inside — a beautiful bookmark for a gift of a book, for example, or a kitchen utensil for a gift of cookware.
Want more ideas? Search for DuLaney’s name on YouTube, and you’ll turn up several videos with his wrapping tips. He also teaches online paper arts classes at Craftsy.com.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or email@example.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/mbbreck, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckenridge and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.