In this, the season of gift-giving – second only in importance to the days leading up to July 9 (my birthday) – people can get addled and frustrated as they try to get the gifts wrapped. In fact, you wouldn’t believe how many emails I get from people frustrated in their attempts in wrap presents effectively! (Well, none. But I haven’t checked my email this morning). So I thought, rather than deal with the potentially hundreds of emails waiting for me in my in-box regarding the issue, it might be helpful to provide as little troubleshooting Q & A on the delicate art.
Q: I’m a heterosexual male. I just have to ask straight out: Since she’s just going to open it anyway, do I really have to wrap the present? I can’t just give it to her in the bag?
A: Regrettably, no. For starters, the “Tru-Value Hardware” logo on the bag might spoil some of the surprise. In addition, it can very important to women that their gifts be wrapped up nicely. Anthropologists believe this stems from Cro-Magnon times, when it was the men’s responsibility to go out and hunt, while the women’s tasks involved staying closer to camp and wrapping things in other things.
Q: I’ve got a child who’s just reaching the age to understand the “Santa” idea. But I don’t know – should I put the presents under the tree to build the excitement? Or should I hide them and put them under the tree Christmas night, so my son thinks Santa brought them?
A: How parents approach the idea of Santa can be tricky. In order to increase the bond between parent and child, psychologists suggest putting the presents under the tree ahead of time so the child can see that you’re involved in the gift-giving process, but to tell the child that Santa may bring more. Then, Christmas morning, say, “Looks like Santa stiffed you, kiddo. Tough break. Guess you can only trust me.” You’ll be amazed at the long-term impact!
Q: I’m worried about the present coming open at the corners. How much tape should I use?
A: You can’t use too much. You simply can’t. When it’s so glossy with tape that you can see your reflection? That means you’re on the right track!
Q: How do people feel about their gifts being wrapped in old newspapers?
A: It depends. Is your gift a fish? Then go for it. Some people will also appreciate the eco-friendly nature of the wrapping. Others will think you’re a cheap, insensitive jerk. One way to find out! A few tips, should you decide to go this route: Avoid pages that prominently feature headlines with words like “brutally” or “tragic” or “machete.” The Sunday comics can be nice and colorful, but take a second to try and remember if the gift is for a syndicated cartoonist whose cartoon has achieved some success but still hasn’t made it in to the area comics page, causing great bitterness and frustration for the artist. Who hasn’t committed that gaffe at one time or another?
Q: The gift I’ve purchased is oddly shaped. Any tips on wrapping it?
A: Absolutely. Very common problem. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Merely return the gift and buy a new one that is nice and squared. A book, perhaps a dvd, or maybe a nice box of cereal!
Q: Um, really? I shouldn’t just put the oddly shaped gift in a box?
A: WHO’S ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS HERE? ME. I AM. Now return that cashmere sweater, and get her a damned Rubik’s Cube.
Q: I’m Jewish, and with gifts for Hanukkah being fairly small – should they still be wrapped?
A: Is it a dreidel? Then don’t bother. They know about the dreidel. They’re bracing themselves for the dreidel. Just chuck it to them and say, “Heeyyyy, there’s the dreidel. That’s done, we can move forward.” If on the other hand, the gift is a Golem, wrapping or not, you are awesome. Bear in mind, though – if you do choose to wrap the Golem, makes extra sure there are no printed words on the wrapping paper. A Golem who does nothing but “Celebrate” or “Remember to Always Recycle” gets old fast.
Q: Hey, I really want to make the ribbon on the box do that swirly, spiraly thing. How do you do that?
A: First, take a pair of scissors and, holding the ribbon taught, run the blade up the ribbon toward you in a swift, steady swoop. Next, apply pressure to the wound where the scissors have gouged or sliced you. Try to pay special attention to whether the blood from the wound is pulsing, and where any severed fingers have landed. Finally, while in the hospital, when someone asks if there’s anything they can do to help, have them run to the store and buy you some ribbon with the spiraly shape pre-done at the factory.
Q: Any final thoughts? What are the essentials?
A: Remember this handy little motto: “Gifts that are wrapped with precision and class, keep your partner from dumping your ass.” Also, tape. Lots of tape.