I like to think that I'm always up for a challenge. If you asked me about my worst qualities during a job interview, I'd probably bring up perfectionism. That all goes out the window during the holidays when it's time to wrap presents. In theory, I would make the ideal gift wrapper. I'm endlessly patient, and I usually work well under pressure. As a writer, attention to detail is a must. In reality, my wrapped presents often look like they're desperately trying to claw their way out by the time I'm done. Why does gift wrapping have to be so hard? I can't cut in straight lines, and that's a fatal flaw when it comes to perfectly wrapped gifts. I've considered paying store employees to help me, but that just feels like giving in to defeat, and I did say I love a challenge. This year, I decided I'd follow a tutorial in the hopes that I'd finally master gift wrapping — and that this year's gifts wouldn't look like the horrors of years past.
Wrapping a gift seems thoughtful; tossing something in a bag clearly takes little effort or time. But ask yourself this: Would you rather a crudely wrapped present that you have to pretend to love, even though you're terrified of what's inside, or a nice, tasteful bag? The answer should be clear. Nevertheless, I persisted in trying to learn how the heck to wrap a gift, and it did not turn out as I expected.
Step one: I went to Target and bought the most expensive wrapping paper and ribbon available. My thought process: If I spend $12.70 on paper and ribbon, I'm going to want to see something Instagram worthy, which will make me more committed to succeeding at this hellish task. Next, I Googled "how to wrap a gift" and clicked on the first video that came up. It seemed way too advanced, so I kept clicking until I found a tutorial for novices. Solid strategy so far.
I also decided I'd redo a subpar already-wrapped gift under the tree and give it a chance at redemption, so I grabbed my sister's present and prepared to get to work.
It didn't take long for things to go wrong. I had the wrong scissors (according to the gift wrapping expert giving the tutorial, small scissors are a bad idea) and the wrong type of tape (invisible tape, allegedly, is the way to go). I also missed the part of the tutorial where you measure the wrapping paper before you start, so I had a comical amount of paper to work with.
Shockingly, once I reached the end result (thanks in part to a ribbon tying guide that proved much more complicated than expected), I realized the gift didn't look half bad. I wasn't going to win any gift-wrapping awards or anything, but it was more presentable than I was hoping for.
The before and after is pretty striking, if I do say myself — even though the bow is hopelessly twisted and the wrapping end pieces are mismatched. Here's the thing: This experiment took me the better part of an hour. Who has time for that? I'm sure it's faster once you get good at it, but I will probably never get good at gift wrapping. By my calculations, it'd take me nearly two full workdays to wrap all of the gifts in my pile, with all the measuring and careful cutting and taping. The hardest part, though? Figuring out how much paper I actually needed is deeply underrated as an obstacle in gift-wrapping perfection, and I think that's why I often fail. Who are these people who can guesstimate and get it right?
This year, my pile of gifts will probably end up bagged or messily wrapped yet again. I gave it my best, and gift wrapping eluded me once again. Perfect gift wrappers, I have been humbled, and I salute you.