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13 Tips for Wrapping the Perfect Present From An Expert

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13 Tips for Wrapping the Perfect Present From An Expert

BY Erin McCarthy

December 6, 2017

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Growing up, Alton DuLaney received many beautifully-wrapped presents. “My dad was a great gift wrapper,” he tells Mental Floss. “He always made the holidays and birthdays really special.” Those wraps clearly stuck with DuLaney, who grew up to become creative director at Kate’s Paperie and, in 2008, took home the top prize in the Scotch Most Gifted Wrapper Contest (he wrapped, among other things, a baby grand piano).

These days, the artist is helping novices nail their gift wraps via tutorials on Craftsy.com. DuLaney’s motto? Put the present in presentation. “Gift giving should not be stressful,” he says. “It should be something fun. When you gift wrap something, it shows that you put some individual time and attention to make it something special. If you have fun with it, your gift recipient is probably going to have fun with it, too.”

1. PREP YOUR WORKSPACE …

A person wrapping presnts on a clean workspace.

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“Create your workspace before you create,” DuLaney advises. Because he prefers to stand, he makes a sturdy, waist-high table or countertop his base. Whatever you choose to work on, make sure the surface is clean. Ditto your hands: “You don’t want to get lotion or anything that might be on your hands onto the beautiful paper or ribbon,” DuLaney says.

2. … AND HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS ON HAND.

Wrapping paper and scissors.

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No workspace is complete without the proper tools. DuLaney always has a ruler and two pairs of scissors—one for paper and one for ribbon. “Sometimes your paper will have glitter or other things on it that will dull your scissors,” he says. “When you cut your ribbon, you want to have a very super-sharp pair of scissors to get a nice, clean cut.” To tell the difference, he ties a tiny bit of ribbon around the handle of the ribbon scissors.

DuLaney also has two kinds of Scotch tape at the ready: Double-sided for complicated areas, and gift wrap tape with a matte finish “so even when it’s on the outside of the paper, it virtually disappears—you don’t see it.” He also keeps embellishments on hand to decorate the outside of the gift (more on that in a bit). “I like to gather all of those things before I start, and that way, once the creative juices are flowing, you don’t have to stop and say, ‘Where are my scissors? Where’s my tape?’” he says.

3. USE A MEDIUM GRADE PAPER.

A close-up of rolls of wrapping paper.

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If your paper is too thin, it will tear easily, allowing package corners to poke through; too-thick paper, on the other hand, leads to a bulky wrap. DuLaney prefers a medium-grade paper with a bit of a metallic finish, which creates nice, sharp creases.

4. CONSIDER DOING A PRACTICE RUN.

A mother and daughter wrapping presents.

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“This is going to sound crazy, but I always tell people to practice,” DuLaney says. “At the end of the season, I’ll go buy gift wrap on sale, and [next year], I’ll practice my wrapping before I start wrapping.” DuLaney advises practicing with ribbon, too.

If he has a special paper—something hand-painted or hand-stamped—DuLaney will do a dry run with regular paper to see how it will work. “Then I’ll unwrap [the gift] and use that paper as a pattern, just like if you were working with a piece of fabric—you would use a paper pattern to make your fabric pattern,” he says.

5. CAREFULLY MEASURE YOUR PAPER.

A person measuring out wrapping paper.

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