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Wrap Like A Pro

Many people will be giving a variety of gifts to friends and family as the holidays quickly approaches.

As Real Simple magazine points out, however, "It's the thought that counts, but it's the paper and bow that seal the deal."

Elizabeth Mayhew, style director at Real Simple magazine, stopped by The Saturday Early Show to demonstrate some wrapping techniques that will produce a neat and beautiful package for a loved one to appreciate.

First, Mayhew suggests you lose the snowflake and Santa wrapping papers. Stock up on solid colors, which can take you beyond the holidays. (Mayhew particularly likes white paper.) Tie on a red ribbon for Christmas or a pink ribbon for a birthday.

Reserve a pair of scissors specifically for cutting gift-wrap. This will ensure sharp scissors and, as a result, crisply-cut lines and edges.

As you dive into actually wrapping the gift, remember that the beauty of your final product is directly related to how much effort you devote (the more time you spend, the nicer it will look.)

You want the paper to remain taut around the box, so always secure it to the box with a piece of double-sided tape. Using double-sided tape gives your package a seamless look.

After securing the paper to the box and wrapping the paper around the box, you need to tape down the loose edge. Make a nice seam by folding this edge and then securing with double-sided tape. This gives you a clean look and hides any mistakes you made when cutting the paper.

Creating neat corners on a package give many people trouble. The key is crisp creases and again, neat seams.

Finally, finish off your package with grosgrain ribbon. This classic cotton ribbon really dresses up a gift. Plus, unlike paper or plastic ribbon which crimps or folds when you tie it, grosgrain's ridged surface will not show mistakes -- you can retie and even reuse it. Real Simple suggests storing your spools of ribbon on a standing paper-towel holder. This keeps all the ribbons in one place, stops the ribbons from getting tangled, and makes it easy to move the ribbons around. This works best with spools that have at least a one-inch diameter opening/hole in the middle.

For additional holiday cheer, you can tie pinecones, red berry wreaths and cute gift cards onto the package.

The above tips are all well and good for square or rectangular boxes. But what do you do with those hard-to-wrap items? Mayhew has three suggestions:

  • Mailing Tubes: These cardboard tubes are perfect for baseball bats, umbrellas, golf clubs, yoga mats, rolling pins, shawls or scarves. The tube disguises these items and gives you a smooth surface to wrap. Once you slide the item inside the tube, you can stuff bubble wrap inside to stop it from rattling around. You can get creative with these "stuffings" as well. For example, Real Simple suggests putting pages from a sports magazine or sports section of the newspaper into a tube with a bat or golf club. You then wrap the tube in paper and tie the ends "Tootsie Roll style."
  • Cellophane Bags: Mayhew says she loves these bags, which can be purchased at craft stores. They have a variety of uses and really dress up a simple gift. First, wrap the item in colored tissue paper. Then slip it into the cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon. Once the item is inside the bag, it's also more difficult to identify as a CD or other items.
  • Dish Towels: Sometimes paper is just too flimsy to do the job. It crinkles or tears and just winds up looking sloppy. Mayhew recommends wrapping bottles of wine or olive oil in dishtowels instead.

    A Final Tip

    Sometimes, the best gifts come in small packages. If you want to disguise a small gift, put it inside a larger box and add a phone book to make the present heavier.

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