I should start by letting you all know I'm fully convinced Winter has a way of bringing only the best things out of us. The cold air, hot drinks, layers of sweaters, any excuse for a fire and even the occasional (Yes, occasional, I am one of those) Christmas playlist, all have a way of making the whole atmosphere feel like something cozy and worth keeping around. Because, while I dream of living in a state that drops below 70 before December 1st, I can't help but want for ways to stretch those few, true Winter weeks into months in an effort to hold on to all the good that happens in them just a little longer.
Somewhere in-between the sips of mulled wine (yes, I intented to mention this in every Winter post, it's for your own good) and tying pine trees to car roofs, I think something else even more special sets in, the spirit of giving. It creeps in somewhere along with the cold fronts and does something in us that I find myself wanting to hang onto a while longer than just a season. Giving does something in us, something powerful I think, by ever so gently shifting our hearts and our wants from our own selves to those around us. It causes us to take up an unprecidented excitement in looking to our neighbor and just really Sherlock Holme's-ing our way to the perfect gift, the thing you know was made just for them, only for the joy of seeing someone else brought joy.
Last year for my birthday, I vividly remember unwrapping a gift a friend gave me with the smile, (you know the gift unwrapping with an audience smile) that you smile when you're half afraid, half excited, but mostly trying to mask anything that will give away what you feel until you're in the clear. But truth be told, I think most of my gift-unwrapping life up until that very moment could be summed up with that exact kind of very low expectation smile. The kind that brings back memories of Christmas mornings with relatives giving you sweatshirts in your least favorite color and books you've already read, I think most of us know that smile all too well. That was, until the paper came off and I found myself holding the sweetest, hand-made leather pen holder that I had ever laid eyes on, and as a slightly embarrassing amount of tears filled my eyes, I thought, this is what it's like to be known. And that friends, is what I think makes gift giving just so extraordinary. It's the lone way of telling someone, I see you, I know who you are and what you like and what makes you come alive and those are the things I want to give to you, because you are worth it. It's not the leather pen holder that holds the power, it's being in the midst of feeling defeat about a dream you're halfway to giving up on all together, and unwrapping paper to find yourself holding something that feels like a vote of confidence, something that you never knew you wanted until you had it, something that says you can do this.
So friends, as we look at the sweet ascetic that is gift wrapping, know that that is why I chose to wrap gifts in kraft paper and burlap string. That is why I believe in the time it takes to adorn with greenery and holly and tags that let you know it's just for you and no one else. Because, if you've ever had that moment of unwrapping a gift and instead getting a vote of confidence, you know it's worth it, from first glance to finish. So pop on your favorite Christmas playlist (or mine, A Johnnyswim Christmas) and lets talk gift wrapping!
While my usual gift bundles tend to stay in the neutral palette of the white and burlap you can see, this year I decided on a little more variety in wrapping paper, mixing in a few rolls from Rifle Paper Co, along with the bundles I made myself. The white paper and tan draft paper can be found for reasonably cheap at Hobby Lobby, and while I grabbed my Rifle Paper Co. supplies from a shop in Atlanta, you can find them online or locally at The Red Onion!
For my personalized paper, I typically cut the paper to the size I'll need to wrap the specific box before laying it out and lighting writing across the paper, horizontally, in a loose script for an added bit of originality. I typically pick a sweet Christmas phrase like "Oh holy night" or "be merry and bright" to adorn the paper, using either a paper mate felt tip pen for the white paper or a metallic gold sharpie for the kraft.
To finish it off, I wrap each gift in burlap string, usually going around 2-3 times depending on the size of the gift, and then I add my very favorite part, a personalized gift tag. I'm a firm believer in a personal touch, and I love the way name tags have a way of both personalizing your gift and really taking the ascetic up to a whole other level. It feels sweet and rustic and most importantly, just for you.
On that note, I'm excited to say this year I'm going to be selling personalized sets of these hand-written gift tags, so that you can ensure each of the gifts you give shouts just how special that lucky recipient is, before they even get down to the good stuff underneath. We'll have gift tags available in white, kraft tan, red, and my very favorite, raw wood as pictured and they'll be available in sets of 5, so you just send us your list of names and we'll hand write each one and send it your way!
Cheers and Happy Holiday Wrapping,