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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

G is for Gift Wrap

Monday, November 13, 2023

One of the Christmas traditions followed across the world is the exchanging of gifts wrapped in beautiful packages. G is for Gift Wrap is the seventh post in a series of 26 posts listing Christmas traditions from A to Z.  

is for Gift Wrap. 

Presentation, presentation, presentation.

Seeing pretty packages wrapped under a Christmas tree adds to the excitement and anticipation of the presents inside. 

A beautifully wrapped present takes extra time and thought which is cherished by the recipient. At least, adult recipients. Anyone around young children at Christmas knows they are so excited to see their gifts they gleefully tear open their presents and fling the gift wrapping aside.   

The first gift wrapping began in Japan in the 1600s. The Japanese began using a reusable wrapping cloth known as furoshiki when giving gifts. 

Tissue Paper Gift Wrap

In the mid-1800s printed tissue paper for wrapping presents became popular in the United States. The small gold wrapped present with gold ribbon and a tiny gold tree is wrapped in tissue paper without a box much like the first paper wrapped presents in the western world. The first printed tissue paper patterns came from designs on Christmas cards. 

French Envelope Paper

In 1917, two brothers, Rollie and Joyce Hall, ran out of tissue paper wrapping they sold from their stationery store during the holidays. As an alternative to tissue gift wrap they sold some French envelope lining paper which also sold out. Realizing the popularity of the printed paper they decided to offer paper gift wrap permanently. In two years they became the leaders in printed gift wrap across the United States. 

Joyce Hall was a cofounder and chief executive officer of Hallmark Cards, Inc. from 1910 to 1966. 

Modern Day Gift Wrap 

Tissue paper is still popular, but most often now used in printed gift bags. The ease of "wrapping" a present in a bag instead of a hard-to-find box makes gift bags extremely popular. From small bags to present small gifts like earrings or gift cards to huge gift bags to present bulky, odd-shaped gifts, there is a bag for every gift. Plus, they are reusable and easy to store for next Christmas. 

Tall bottle gift bags are versatile and excellent for more than bottles. Their shape and size offer an alternative to a traditional sock-shaped stocking. 

Traditional Christmas colors are red and green, but beginning in the mid-1900s more colors began to appear in Christmas decorations and gift wrap. 

Today Christmas gift wrap and decor come in all colors. While red, green, gold, silver, and white are the most popular colors for Christmas currently, you can decorate and wrap presents in whatever is your favorite color. 

Ribbons adorning packages began in the 1930s. Today, ribbons tie both small embellishments and name cards to packages and bags. Tissue paper is most often used to decorate a bag and to conceal the contents within an open bag. Christmas paper napkins are another creative light weight paper that can decorate and conceal presents in a gift bag. 

A beautiful Christmas package can also include a small gift as part of the gift wrap. Small Christmas ornaments like this festive reindeer are perfect package decor. 


Whatever way you wrap your Christmas gifts, gift wrap is a beautiful tradition and joyous way to celebrate the season.