There are two types of people in the world; those that bestow gifts which look like they’ve fallen straight out of a magazine, and the rest of the population that are still struggling with sticky tape and string (that’s me normally!) It’s not hard to see that a beautifully wrapped present is a gift in itself, especially during the festive season when a present will be displayed under a tree for a week or so before it’s opened. Of course, the goodies inside it matter, but thoughtful packaging always makes it seem like a lot more time and effort have gone into the gift – even if neat wrapping only takes a few minutes!
When you don’t get to see your loved ones on a special day, it’s even more important to show how much you care through wrapping a present nicely, so gere are some quick tips on making sure your thoughts and love are sent around the world and make it in one piece!
Wrapping is much quicker and easier when you have everything you need to hand. To get a gift ready to send around the world, you will need the following:
- Wrapping paper in 2-4 complementary colours or patterns. Make sure the quality is good enough so that it won’t tear in transit, but don’t worry about spending a fortune. Mixing a quirky pattern with simple materials like brown paper or newspaper is simple, inexpensive and effective. Just make sure your newspaper has lots of text – not images!
- A small selection of tapes. Double-sided is best for disguising where the joins of your gifts are, and “invisible” tape won’t distract from the print of the paper. If you’re going for plain wrapping paper, maybe choose a few pretty washi tapes for variation.
- Sharp scissors to give you clean cuts through paper, tape, string and ribbon.
- A sturdy surface, like a kitchen counter or dining table, to help you get crisp folding lines.
- Cardboard boxes in shapes and sizes to comfortably accommodate your gifts.
- Some kind of packing material. Polystyrene packing peanuts are horrible for the environment (as well as risky for curious pets and little ones), but there are lots of eco-friendly alternatives available. Scrunched up or shredded paper works well as does popped popcorn, or if you have foam blocks or bubble-wrap left over from a previous purchase, now would be an ideal time to get rid of it!
Before you start wrapping, don’t forget to check with the customs of your recipient’s country that everything you are sending can be received. For example, nail varnish, Christmas crackers and perishable food are generally not allowed in any postal system and will result in your gift being seized, refused, and possibly even destroyed!
Firstly, unless the item you’re wrapping is already rectangular, put it in a box. It doesn’t have to be a fancy gift box, just a sturdy cardboard container that comfortably holds your item inside. Start saving plain ones you have from deliveries or purchases now!
Next, make sure you cut the right amount of paper. The wrapping will need to fold all the way around your box with about an inch of overlap. The paper at either end should reach just over halfway of the sides of your box, so when you fold the top and bottom together there’s a small overlap in the middle.
Try and align the seams of your paper with the edges of the gift, and carefully crease the folds to make them more secure. Use one hand to keep the wrap in place while you get the tape with your other (it’s worth having a tape dispenser or strips of pre-cut tape ready for this!)
Once you’ve taped along the length of the present and sealed both ends, you’re ready to add a finishing touch. Bows are an easy solution (there’s a fantastic video tutorial by Lia Griffith, which you can watch here), but if you’re feeling bold then you can use something more unusual like flowers (not recommended for long-distance travel), baubles or candy canes.
Whether you’re relying on the national postal service or using a dedicated courier service like RAND Logistics, it’s really important that you put your beautifully-wrapped boxes into a plain box before it gets shipped. This is partly because the machines used by the postal service are too rough for delicate paper and ornamentation, but also because an attractive parcel is more likely to catch the eye of passers-by, making it more vulnerable to tampering or theft.
Choose an appropriately-sized cardboard box to protect the outside of your gift for shipping. If it’s too small then it’s likely to burst; too big and your goodies are at risk from rattling around or getting squashed. Check that your box is strong enough for the weight of your gift, and if you have any non-boxed gifts then make sure to wrap sharp edges and awkward protrusions in additional bubble wrap. Next, fill any gaps with packing materials and then seal the outer packaging with strong parcel tape. Your recipient’s address should be clearly written on the box, in the proper format for the destination country. It’s also wise to include a return address – just make sure it’s obvious which is which!
Finally, depending on where you gift is going, you may need to complete a customs declaration and affix it to the outer packaging. It’s essential that you fill this form out as accurately as possible, including the approximate value of the gift, and each individual item – unfortunately, customs officials won’t appreciate you trying to keep the contents a surprise and might open your box to investigate!