Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pretty on the outside

It was Christmas morning somewhere around 1986 in my Aunt's huge basement great room. The tree was illuminated in all it's shining massive glory. I had never seen a tree so glamorous outside of a department store, nor one so large. The tree my parents decorated each year was an old 1970-something artificial with the wiry scrub brush branches and topping out at an impossible 4 feet tall. By the time I reached age 10 even shrimpy little me was tall enough to surpass the tree. It was then that the tree was placed on top of an old cardboard box to mimic one with a greater stature. Her ornaments were limited edition artistic creations, ours were homemade.

Being at my Aunt's house was magical. Where my parents were frugal, thrifty, and minimalistic, she was glamorous, trendy, and prioritized quality in what she owned. In the Christmas gift rotation, that was the year she had our family for gifts. It was always exciting to see what Aunt Nancy would pick out for you because her taste was impeccable and everything she touched seemed to be filled with immeasurable value. This year the impossible happened: the largest, most glamorous looking package under the tree was for me.

That never happened! I was never the one who got to open the fancy boxes! As it was carried my way, I could not help but be filled with excitement and anxiousness over what I may find inside. As I untied the wide satin ribbon and peeled off the heavyweight metallic wrapping paper, I found the most beautiful fluffy white teddy bear wearing a red bow.

I was 10-ish and I had loved teddy bears since I was a young child. This one moved into my room in a place of honor and was the crowning glory of my collection. Seldom played with, I didn't want to mar the perfection that he represented.

Since then, I've always been fascinated by packaging. Even a simple gift can be made all the more special with a little elegance in the packaging, but coupled with that I have absorbed my parents frugal nature. At the store, I will always buy the least atrocious of the cheap wrapping papers and I will always wait for ribbon to be on a serious discount. Then there is the time it takes to make them pretty...

This year, I have that. Not the money, but the time. So as I look under my tree this year, this is what I see:

Word search gift tags. I made these in September and then a couple weeks ago saw on Pinterest that someone had made word search wrapping paper. I like this better as it's more versatile and easier to print. The packages are wrapped in paper grocery sacks with a scrap of ribbon and some felt/paper flowers. The tags? After toying with illustration programs I found the easiest way to do them was in Excel. True story. 

These are more old school. Plain wrapping paper, wrapped in white curling ribbon (only because I have about a million miles of it and want to use it up). The holly leaves/berries are cut out of felt and hot glued onto the wrap. Yes, I wrapped half my packages with hot glue this year.

These are potentially my favorite right now, and this idea I did get from Pinterest - though I didn't pin it I just saw it and said "Huh. I can do that." It's just paper hearts folded in half and glued to form flowers. Again, hot glue heaven going on here.

Isn't that fantastic? I'd love to do this with double sided card stock but again, I'm just using what I have on hand already. The paper is a striped plain brown paper found at Target in the gift card aisle (not by the other wrapping papers) and the green spotty stuff is from American Crafts Christmas card stock package about a million years ago.

Then my crowning joy this year (now that the chaos and stress has lifted somewhat) is in our friend/neighbor gifts. We decided months ago that we wanted to give fresh pasta and so I've been trying different methods for drying it. It gets quite brittle when it dries so I really hope some of the rigatoni are still tube-like when people cook it.

In 24 hours I made 11 batches of fresh pasta. Then a couple more the next day, and I'll make a few more this afternoon. I dried it in a 150 degree oven on cooling racks for air circulation. The Merry Christmas font is from Fonts for Peas, the bird tag tutorial is from Under the Table and Dreaming. Behind the tags we provided one of our favorite recipes to use the pasta.

For the brown paper I sliced off the pleated edges of paper lunch sacks and fed it through our printer. I absolutely love how it turned out.

It's really fun; having time to hand make gifts and try to doll up packages somewhat. It sure does make it feel more like Christmas to me when I get to invest myself in things this way. Now I'd better run, I have about 36,247 more projects to get to!


  1. Your wrappings are soooo beautiful. You are such a creative and thoughtful person. :)


OOOH oooh!! We love comments!!!