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Has gift wrapping become a lost art?

December 6, 2012

Many people have turned their backs on wrapped gifts in favor of gift bags. However, there's something to be said for intricately wrapped presents under the tree.

Have we become a society that is too busy for gift wrap? When a birthday arrives or the holidays come around in full force, where do most people turn? To the ultra-convenient gift bag, that's where.

Gift bags have largely taken over the party aisles at most stores, where rows and rows of gift bags in all shapes and sizes are not uncommon. If you're trying to find a roll of wrapping paper, good luck. For birthdays, anniversaries and even baby showers, paper designs have essentially become obsolete.

It's true that wrapping paper seems to make a rebound come the holiday season, when stores begin to devote aisles of space to holiday supplies. But even when shiny foils and smiling Santas beckon customers from the tightly packed rolls, many people still choose gift bags.

Gift bags do have many advantages. They are easily portable, generally inexpensive and come in some very clever designs. They're also touted as a "green" product because they can be reused.

But there are plenty of people who feel that the elimination of intricately wrapped presents takes some of the magic out of the holidays. Carefully wrapped gifts show that a person put in time and effort to present a gift in a way that is sentimental and personal. Although it may take mere minutes to pry away the paper and find a treasure inside, there's something to be said for paper-wrapped gifts. It means the gift-giver sat down, pondered the paper design and carefully chose the bow or ribbon with the recipient in mind.

Before you eschew wrapping paper for a gift bag this holiday season, think about all of the advantages to spending some time and reacquainting yourself with the art of gift wrapping. Here are some reasons to save the gift bag for another time.

* Wrapping can be green, too. Wrapping paper can be reused if it is carefully removed from a gift. You also can create your own wrapping paper by decorating brown postal paper with a rubber stamp or having children color their own special murals. Don't overlook newsprint as wrapping as well.

* Paper is more cost-effective. You are bound to get more bang for your wrapping buck by choosing wrapping paper. Although there are scores of discount stores that sell low-priced gift bags, often the quality isn't the same, and the handles could tear after one or two uses. Wrapping paper per inch is definitely more affordable than gift bags, particularly when purchased on sale.

* Wrapping paper lets you be creative. Cover a box with a patchwork of different paper scraps, choose to stagger colors of paper with boxes towered one on top of another or tie on the biggest bow you can find.

* Paper is traditional. Look back to the classic stories of yuletide and you are bound to find images of Santa Claus pulling wrapped boxes out of his enormous gift sack. Also think about how department stores used to (and some still do) offer complimentary gift wrapping.

* Wrapped gifts travel better. When carrying your bounty of gifts to friends and family, carefully wrapped boxes tend to stand up to travel better than gift bags. No one wants to receive a gift bag that has been wrinkled and crushed into some amorphous shape. Plus, wilted tissue paper can be off-putting.

* There's something magical about wrapping paper. The anticipation, the drama, the build-up to peeling aside wrapping paper and revealing the gift has brought smiles to children's (and adults') faces for generations. It is hard to improve on something that has been successful for years and years.

Although the public may be swept up in rushing from here to there, there are traditionalists who appreciate sitting down and spending time creating holiday magic by way of beautifully wrapped gifts.

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