07 December 2011

7th December: Wrapping up

Yesterday I ventured into town to get some wrapping paper, so far this is the only thing I've bought for Christmas in an actual shop.  I bought some bows and all the fancy stuff to go on top a while ago, in one of those shops where you can buy everything in from kettles to pint glasses. This year I've decided that I want to beautifully wrap my presents, I think I've been watching too many Christmas movies. So due to the lack of cheap shops where I live, I went into WhSmith where they had a 3 for 2 offer on all papers, boxes and gift tags. I did think about getting some off eBay, but the time I paid the postage it would probably work out the same.

I was confronted with at least 40 styles of wrapping paper, I felt a bit like a magpie having all these shiny papers staring at me. I decided to venture away from the cutesy Snowman wrapping paper and got some sparkly ones, even though they were more expensive. I picked three, a gold one with gold sparkly stars on, a black one with gold Christmas trees and a red metallic one with white glittery big spots on. I should mention that I'm in charge of all the presents for my parents, plus Mr.Boyfriend's birthday is on the 23rd so I need a lot of paper. With the red one I thought I could use that for his birthday as well, honestly why couldn't he have been born earlier or later, its such an inconvenience!! He blames the milkman.

I turned the corner and found more gorgeous wrapping paper! I couldn't resist so I bought three more rolls. I got a pink metallic one with glittery white snowflaxes, the same in blue metallic and a red metallic one with gingerbread men one. I couldn't resist the little gingerbread men with bow ties! I also got a roll of selotape with another one for a £1. I literally had the whole rainforest in my hands, dropping the rolls every five seconds, while getting some funny looks. Guess what it came to, 20 quid! Yes two zero! I couldn't believe that I had spent that on wrapping paper and automatically started thinking of ways I could get some of that back. Ie. Selling some of it to my family, Alan Sugar would be proud.

It got me thinking about wrapping paper, when did we start spending an exorbitant amount on paper that is only ripped off anyway? It wasn't until the late 19th century that gifts were wrapped up with coloured paper. Early on gifts were wrapped in simple boring tissue paper or brown paper, the country was obviously going through a tight fisted phase. In the 19th century gifts were sometimes given in things called cornucopias, which are large horn shaped containers that were sometimes hung on the tree. They were given overflowing with flowers, nuts and sweets etc, sadly not ipod's or Nintendo 3Ds's just yet. Gifts were also presented in paper baskets. It wasn't until the 1890's that there was the technology to mass produce fold able, decorated paper. The turn of the century was the time that decorative gift wrapping became popular. Hallmark that is still going strong today came across gift wrapping in 1917 and found that decorative paper quickly sold out. They began printing their own Christmas wrapping paper and soon gift wrap sales rivaled the sales of cards.

Sadly sticky tape wasn't invented, god knows what Blue Peter would have done so string and sealing wax had to be used. However, scotch tape (a sort of white sellotape) was invented in 1930. Thankfully in 1932 tape was sold in dispensers with cutter blades, no more using your teeth to break the tape then. In the 20's and 30's small sticky circles were sold with folded wrapping paper to wrap presents. This was when gift tags became available and sticky decorative ribbon was included, often in packets of matching paper, that's co-ordination for you.

Wrapping paper hasn't always been glittery with Father Christmasses on, the first wrapping paper was decorated in the style of the Victorian era ie. an awful lot of flowers and the occasional teddy. They were similar to the Christmas greeting cards that were popular at the times. Popular things to have on wrapping paper were cherubs, birds and flowers, see I told you. In the 30's and 40's patterns became less dull and more funky due to the Art Deco movement. Patterns turned all Christmassy with snowflakes, ice skaters, Christmas trees and candles. Sadly no dancing Father Christmases just yet.

During World War Two gift wrap was surprisingly saved from rationing, because the War Office believed that gift wrap and other Christmas traditions contributed to raising morale and keeping people happy, I don't think they meant getting drunk on mulled wine though. They also encouraged people to send packages to soldiers. Some gift wrap manufacturers had to turned to weapon and other wartime productions, so businesses that carried on were booming with sales increasing by 20%. I bet they had a merry Christmas.

In the 50's, 60's and 70's the patterns became more realistic and detailed. By the 70's and 80's gift wrap started to have characters from popular TV shows and movies on, no Spongebob or Patrick though. Decorative plastic and paper gift bags came in as well as the introduction of stick-on bows and ribbons. One of the best parts I like about Christmas is wrapping the presents up and decorating it with bows and ribbon spirals. My Grandma uses a whole roll of selotape for one present, it takes ten minutes to get into it, so if you find folding the paper and sticking it down a bit hard, then check out this video here: How to Wrap a Present. I love the colour schemes and all the presents together, here are a few pictures to give you some inspiration. Just try not to get holes in the paper so you have to use three different papers to make it look remotely good, not the best idea. Have fun wrapping everyone!

Second Hand Rose


  1. Interesting post! Didn't realise wrapping paper had so much history.
    It's crazy how expensive wrapping paper can be! I'm going to be cheap this year and wrap everything in brown paper which is super cheap and available in supermarkets. I'm going to buy some labels from Cath Kidston if I can find any, hopefully it'll look nice! xx

  2. I love this post, one of my most faviorate things is to gift wrap the presnts and then decorate it. one year my mum bourght as much wrapping paper as she could after christmas was finished because it was so cheap so even thought now I want metalic wrapping I already have so much to finish.
    And thanks for ur nice comment and ur welcome. I dont have a secert lol I just really like blogging :)

  3. i love learning about the history of different things, so interesting! but anyway, wrapping gifts is definitely not my strong suit! thank God for gift bags, haha. ;) my mom is amazing at wrapping gifts though, wonder why i didn't get that talent...

    <3, Mimi
    $100 Shopbop Gift Card Giveaway

  4. I just read ur comment again and u said something about dried blood??? whats that?

  5. Eek £20 on wrapping paper?! I buy it after Christmas and save it til the next year, I'm so tight!! The ones you picked do look lovely though :) x


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