It has become an unmissable tradition. It started out because of a plethora of supplies I needed to share and a desire to accomplish a common task with my favorite people.
I usually host this day of wrapping, the Thursday before Christmas. There are always friends that haven’t finished their gift shopping and there are other friends that have been all wrapped-up for weeks. This has worked out to be a great way for me to get to spend time with my friends over the holiday season and for all of us to do something both necessary and creative all “rolled” (lol, wrapping pun) into one.
I have found that inviting everyone from 9am to 9pm, open house style works best. I tend to invite everyone I see on a weekly basis, (yes, it is about 50-70 women) and usually 30-40 come when they can during that timeframe. I made these invites on Canva and either texted photos of this or handed the paper invites out as I saw friends.
I do happen to have a thing for wrapping paper and ribbon and the combinations they can create. I have loved pretty wrapping paper since I was young and dreamed of designed it for Hallmark. After a round about way, I ended up majoring in ‘Surface Pattern Design’ (the major at Syracuse University that is a BFA designing patterns into repeat) in college. Years later I am still drawn to the mixes of pattern and color. Some Christmases I have wrapped all our families’ gifts in leopard print paper and red grosgrain ribbon or birch bark paper and teal satin ribbon or brown craft paper with all different ribbons. To me the wrapped gifts under our tree are as much a part of the Christmas decor as the wreath on our front door- so you see I get inspired by the beauty and creativity it involves.
I label the paper, ribbon, tags, etc around our family room and dinner table area. I have extra folding tables available because there needs to be enough space for the wrapping to actually happen also. Ahead of time I collect scissors and tape and I used my Ikea rolling cart to house those supplies. As the day goes on I try to pick up and keep organizing as we go.
So this is the area that does intimidate me the most and so I over-compensate and over-plan and over-worry about the food. I put out some light brunch items to snack on and then last year I had 2-3 things in the crockpots going most of the day for the “lunch/dinner” crowd. Every year I do way too much food and I must remember this when I plan the next one- the guests rarely take time for a “meal” sized snack but usually just a bite or two and a glass of wine or punch. This charcuterie board I set up last year was just WAY too much!
As guests arrive, I attempt to show them around in regards to where the food and drinks are and all the wrapping supplies and I strongly encourage them to “help-themselves” because otherwise there could be way too many people that I don’t get a chance to serve well. I kept the “wine-bar” set up in our Living Room after the Octoberfest-Going-Away party we had for our son in October and that created a spot for women to gather and chat by the fireplace as well. With a unpredictable timeframe for when everyone was coming, I found comfort in knowing I could spread us out on the entire first floor. We do have a good amount of space in this house, but don’t let space hold you back, I also hosted this party (with less invited) in our old much smaller house and it was still a good time.
Last year I hit the jackpot at my favorite ribbon source- the “Offray Ribbon Outlet” in Hagerstown, MD. Two friends and I make a 3.5 hour-each-way-annual trip-in-one-day and we load up a minivan FULL of ribbon between the three of us. I’m talking garbage bags full of rolls of ribbon. I know, it is insane! The outlet had 25 cent rolls of 2 inch white grosgrain ribbon in December 2018- yes, I know crazy low price… So I was able to get a roll for approximately 40 ladies to gift them with when they left the Gift-wrap Gather last year. It certainly isn’t necessary to give a departing gift at this get-together because they have just wrapped gifts but it is a little extra way I can love-on them.
….are AMAZING! First of all, I get to spend time with these friends in this busy time of year and since it is at my home and they come to throughout the day- I really do get quality time with many. Also, the creativity runs high, even for those that tend to ‘just toss gifts in gift bags’ to be done. Some ladies have never learned how to wrap a box. Some try amazing special things like layering ribbons together and coordinating wrapping paper for different children in their family. My friend Lisa chose to wrap her parents’ gifts because, as artists, she knew they would appreciate and enjoy the beautifully wrapped gift. My tired friend that had just worked a long retail shift, had the benefit of another friend helping her wrap her grandkid’s gifts. It just brings me so much joy for those I know to get to know each other and have things in common and become friends from coming to this event over the years. I am truly blessed with amazing women in my life!