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December 12, 2012

Holiday gifting gets a new spin with creative wrapping tips

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Patti Bedard has been wrapping gifts at The League Shop for 30 years. Here, she covers a package in paper adorned with holiday lambs — a popular choice with customers.

You’ve made it through the malls, scoped out the best deals and managed to snag the perfect holiday gifts for everyone on your list. Yet somehow, after all of that, your work isn’t quite done.

Wrapping gifts has come a long way from Fraulein Maria’s “brown paper packages tied up with strings.” For those who want to get a bit creative with their holiday loot, there are plenty of places around metro Detroit where gift-givers can go for advice on how to make the presents, themselves, as unique and special as the person receiving them.

At The League Shop in Grosse Pointe Farms, customers can enlist the help of experienced staffers at the specialty gift and stationary shop to find the perfect present for any occasion, complete with custom wrapping. Owner of the League Shop, Pat Brinker, says impressive packaging doesn’t have to be as complicated as some may think.

“We find you can do anything you want with a patterned paper, so you basically want to match with a solid ribbon,” she said. “Solid red or green goes with all the different papers.”

A favorite tactic Brinker uses when wrapping gifts is to wrap a recipient’s presents in two or three different patterns of paper, then pile them up as a tiered package, pull a ribbon around the stack and tie it off with a bow.

“All the papers correspond with the ribbon. With a pretty bow on top, it just sets it all off,” she said.

Brinker says she also likes the flexibility of cellophane for gifts without a box or those that come in an unusual shape.

“Getting a sheet of fun tissue, and wrapping it with cellophane and tying it with a pretty bow gives it such a festive feeling,” she said. “With the colored tissue, you can’t see what’s inside the package, but it also gives it a pretty effect on the outside.”

For custom packages, not any old stick-on bow will due. At Della’s Maple Lane Florist in Troy, owner Kris Carin-Case is usually busy this time of year making custom bows for patrons out of their favorite ribbon. For those who want to create their own bows at home, Carin-Case says it’s all about dexterity.

“Wired ribbon is definitely the easiest to make a bow out of, and gathering it tightly in your fingers is very important,” she said, explaining that, to make a bow, she loops ribbon back and forth in her hands and twists wire around the center. “Shaping the bow in your fingers is very important. And then tightly twist the wire (around the middle).”

To make a bow even more special, Carin-Case recommends adding a bit more to the top of the package to make it stand out.

“You could embellish it with a pine cone in the middle, an ornament, or put cinnamon sticks in the middle of the bow,” she said, adding that a sprig of fresh holly is one of her favorite choices to enhance a bow. “A big bunch of holly is $7.95, and that would do a dozen or more presents.”

But even with the endless options available to create beautiful and unique gift-wraps, for some, the idea of wrapping presents is still little more than a imposition. For those who can’t bear to look at another roll of paper, Lisa Gleeson of Lisa’s Gift Wrappers in Royal Oak can wrap all of those pesky packages in time for the holidays.

“We’ve been wrapping Christmas gifts for four weeks already,” she said. “At this time of year, we need about two or three days, but (gifts) are safe in our store, and it’s nice to be able to drop it off and come pick it back up and then drop it under your Christmas tree when you get home.”

Gleeson, who’s been wrapping gifts out of her store on Woodward Avenue since 2004, says she inherited her love of pretty packaging from her mother. Throughout the years, she says she’s garnered a long list of tricks to make gift-wrapping a smooth and enjoyable process.

“Most people kind of put it off until the last minute — maybe they’re too busy or maybe they’re not thrilled about having to do it — so they look at it as more of a chore instead of a pleasure,” she said. “Do them as they come into your house, and if you can’t finish them, Post-It notes are a favorite thing of mine. Mark who it’s for and what’s inside so you can come back to it.”

Gleeson also recommended that gift-givers carve out a special place in their home to wrap, so they don’t have to clean up a huge mess between each wrapping session during the holiday season. She suggests a kitchen counter space or even an ironing board to wrap, with an empty trashcan nearby to hold rolls of paper.

More than anything, Gleeson emphasized that stress shouldn’t be a part of the holiday wrapping routine. When the gifts seem to be overflowing Santa’s sleigh, she said opt for simple solutions.

“If you do have a lot of packages, you could pick one paper for each person; then you don’t have to remember who gets what and it streamlines the process,” she said. “It’s a great way to just get it done. You could even tag just one gift and probably skip bows on the rest, when each person has their own paper.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.