11th-hour gift wrapping was practically a holiday tradition during my childhood. In one of three shared bedrooms at my Grandmother’s house that quickly transformed into a Hallmark midnight madness sale, strewn with 20 or so rolls of wrapping paper remnant ranging from ring-box-size to ginormous-1980s-electronics-size, we would catch up from a whole year of not sharing one bathroom for several days. The dramedy that enveloped this annual exercise remains, to this day, one of my fondest childhood memories, and the basis for my new gift-wrapping traditions.
The Gift-wrapper’s Handbook
1. Do not use one of those tape dispensers you put on your hand which dispense no fewer than 10 itty-bitty pieces of tape in total; they are for pansies. Dull scissors and 25 nearly-empty rolls of any kind of clear tape hidden in random places throughout the house will do just fine. The scavenger hunt should take at least an hour. You’ll still have to go to the store at 11pm for more tape, just as the wine-case is being locked.
2. Break presents down into as many component parts as you can without voiding the manufacturer’s warranty, and wrap said components individually to make it look like there are more presents.
3. Upon forgetting to check that box on the online order form to add gift boxes, use old gift boxes from a different, higher-end store, so as to set falsely high expectations for the gift recipient. This requires stalking the recipient a bit to make sure you catch their expression when they open it. Decide in advance whether you can stay the course.
4. If you cut the paper too short to wrap the end properly, don’t start over. Ya think wrapping paper grows on trees? Use remnant paper to cleverly cover the end. No one will ever know you screwed up, especially if you fold the edges over before applying 72 pieces of tape.
5. Whenever possible, use boxes that are entirely too big for their contents, so it looks like you are giving someone a pony or a flatscreen. See #3.
6. Do not introduce politics, religion, or business into our wrapping-session small-talk. Pretend we’re in a bar and stick to topics like celebrity scandal. See next point.
7. Consume alcoholic beverages disguised as Starbucks treats and which contain roughly the same amount of calories, or twice the daily caloric range for a man. If you followed rule number one, you’re going to need a drink. If you broke rule number one, you’ll have a free hand to consume beverages, so you have no excuse.
8. Do not start gift-wrapping until several hours, not days, before gifts are to be opened. You shouldn’t even be done shopping until the holiday dinner is served. In fact, you should be late to said dinner if at all possible so as to arouse an argument involving at lease half of the adults present.
9. Repeat number 7. If you’ve recently quit smoking, sneak out for a cigarette. The frost-bite will be totally worth it because no one will smell the smoke on you.
10. After the gift-opening carnage, collect every salvageable scrap of wrapping paper and bows as if your survival depends on it. As you’re doing this, mutter under your breath that wrapping paper doesn’t grow on trees.
11. Repeat number 7.
I dedicate this post to my awesome aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear Grandmother, who I miss very much. Merry Christmas!