Wrap up your bar­gains like a pro,

If you plan to buy hol­i­day presents on Black Fri­day, these tips help get them ex­pert-ready


You’ve be­gun your hol­i­day shop­ping and even­tu­ally you’ll have to wrap it all up. Toron­to­based gift stylist Corinna vanGer­wen, who pro­vides pro­fes­sional gift styling ser­vices for brands and com­pa­nies, pro­vides a few trends and tips that should help al­le­vi­ate some of the stress that comes from a moun­tain of gifts — and make you look like a pro.

First things first, you need your ma­te­ri­als. While gift wrap­ping trends don’t seem to move as fast as fash­ion, there are some vanGer­wen is see­ing as she sources ma­te­ri­als for her projects. “I think there’s start­ing to be more of a move to­ward richer colours, more op­u­lent tex­tures and par­tic­u­larly for the hol­i­days, you start see­ing more shim­mer,” she ex­plains. Warm metallics and deep, rich hues, like for­est green and rose, are find­ing their way to pa­per de­sign. Nev­er­the­less, peo­ple still have their favourites and vanGer­wen be­lieves the tra­di­tional colours will al­ways be the most pop­u­lar. How­ever, these, too, have shifted a bit, based on cloth­ing and decor trends. For­est green has re­placed that straight-up, pure green or vivid lime, while bur­gundy and wine colours are be­ing used as op­posed to a cherry red. Black is an un­ex­pected hue that peo­ple may be shy of us­ing for the hol­i­days, but it works well with gold. “Black with dark green vel­vet rib­bon is stun­ning,” she says. Flo­ral pat­terns are also hot right now. These aren’t your tra­di­tional poin­set­tia, but a lit­tle more mod­ern and un­ex­pected. Be­fore buy­ing, check the roll’s weight. Thin pa­pers rip eas­ily. An­other hard pa­per to work with is pa­per with glit­ter. It’s eye­catch­ing, but get­ting tape to stick to it can be prob­lem­atic.

VanGer­wen sources her pa­pers from whole­salers, but she also favours a few re­tail­ers, such as the Pa­per Place, which ships across Canada, and Pa­per-Ya on Granville Is­land in Van­cou­ver. An­other favourite is a com­pany called Minted, which of­fers stick­ers and tags, and al­lows you to cus­tom­ize some pa­pers with your own pho­tos. And Ri­fle Pa­per Co. which is avail­able at var­i­ous re­tail­ers across the coun­try.

When wrap­ping, messy cor­ners can be a frus­tra­tion. How­ever, vanGer­wen says this comes from two things: too much pa­per and not pulling the pa­per tight enough around the box. “As long as you cut the right size of pa­per and are fold­ing it smoothly and tightly along the box, you should be fine,” she says.

Dou­ble-sided tape is favoured so you can hide it on the in­side, rather than it show­ing along the seam. Though if you have a fun washi tape with a pat­tern, you might want it to show. In this case, vanGer­wen will put the seam on the top of the gift, rather than the bot­tom, so the tape be­comes a lit­tle fea­ture de­tail.

For hard-to-wrap items, use her spe­cial tech­nique: “Layer two to four sheets of tis­sue pa­per, place gift on the cor­ner and roll it like a bur­rito.”

For top­pers, vanGer­wen likes to add a sprig of cedar, fir or other sea­sonal green­ery. Flow­ers, both pa­per or real, can also be used, depend­ing on the style you’re look­ing to achieve. And then there’s rib­bon. “One of my go-to rib­bons is gros­grain,” vanGer­wen says. “It’s in­ex­pen­sive, it comes in hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent colours, you can find it al­most any­where and it works re­ally nicely.”

Coloured mail­ing la­bels are a sim­ple so­lu­tion that vanGer­wen will use, though she also loves to sup­port small let­ter­press mak­ers for spe­cial gifts.

And if you ab­so­lutely can’t stand wrap­ping? Use a box. VanGer­wen points to the pat­terned boxes you can find in stores. Tie on a rib­bon and voila.


Add top­pers to your wrapped gifts, such as or­na­ments, bells or fresh green­ery, and at­tach them with a rib­bon for vis­ual ap­peal.

If you re­ally don’t like to wrap, find a dec­o­rated box or bag to fit your colour scheme. Buf­falo check gift bag (right), $3.50, avail­able in stores and on­line at Indigo.ca.

Go the half-and-half route to save time — wrap half your gifts in pa­per and en­close the other half in dec­o­ra­tive boxes or bags.

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