We love creating fancy wrapping paper for our boxes here at Boxcitement HQ, but it got me wondering – especially at this time of year when Christmas gift wrap appears in every single shop – where did it all begin? Why do we feel the need to hide what we are giving people? And what is the psychology behind the pleasure of watching a loved one open a present? Have no fear, we looked into it and all the answers are here!
The art of wrapping gifts has been around for centuries in Japan and Korea. In Japan, the wrapping of gifts in re-useable fabric, called ‘furoshiki’, came about over 1000 years ago when the general public used public baths; they used a recognisable patterned cloth to carry a change of clothes and their bathing accessories. This custom then spread, so that soon the owner of a bookstore would wrap books, or a textile dealer would wrap clothes, and before long it became a standard way of wrapping items. Furoshiki is still practised today and the finished articles are gorgeous – too pretty to open in many cases!
In early Victorian times, rich families would present gifts wrapped in elaborate paper, ribbon and lace, to demonstrate that they were wealthy enough to spend time and money on non-essential items – but at that time it was a strictly upper-class affair. Wrapped gifts didn’t become universally popular until after the First World War, when two American shopkeepers ran out of normal tissue paper in their stationery shop and began to offer expensive patterned paper normally reserved for lining envelopes to their customers instead. It was a sell-out success and the two shopkeepers, brothers Joyce and Rollie Hall, soon began producing their own printed paper to meet demand. Their shop was called Hallmark – and so the commercial production of wrapping paper had begun. Sellotape wasn’t invented until 1930 so until then packages were wrapped up in string and sealing wax – a time consuming affair!
But why does it feel so nice to give and receive wrapped gifts? According to a study published in 1992 by Daniel Howard, professor of marketing at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the fact that an item is gift wrapped actually adds to its value in the recipients’ eyes. Howard also states that “gift wrapping is a visual signal that is associated with happy events in a person’s life” – i.e if every time you receive a gift wrapped present you are happy because it’s your birthday or a special event, you will begin to associate the gift wrap itself with happiness!
Today the gift wrap industry is bigger than ever, worth over three billion dollars a year – and there are countless videos and courses you can attend to help you master the art of wrapping the perfect gift. A recent trend has been the art of ‘decoy wrapping’ – wrapping a gift to look like one thing when it is actually something completely different. Perfect for those pesky children who pick up every present under the tree to try and guess what it is!
There is a move towards creating a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way of wrapping gifts now that we understand single use consumables are so wasteful. Most gift wrap, including ours, is created today from recycled waste – and in addition here at Boxcitement we use a carbon-offset printing company to help replace the trees used in our printed paper. In addition people are moving away from heavily embellished paper, as reported by the stationery company Paperchase, and brown kraft paper has become popular again – a black ink pad and a stamp on some plain brown paper can create some wonderful effects. The best way to make parcels look pretty without ruining the planet is to use uncoated, recycled papers with no glitter or plastic coating. Use raffia ribbon rather than plastic, and avoid gift tags which can’t be recycled because they include stuck on embellishments. And don’t forget to recycle as much paper as you can after Christmas so the cycle can begin again.
PS if you’re short for gift ideas pop over to boxcitement and have a look at what we have – all boxes can include a lovely handwritten card if chosen for a gift 😀