top of page
  • Writer's pictureDiane M Kellogg

It's a Wrap!

A reprint of an article previously published in Painting World Magazine.

By Diane Marie Kellogg

Who doesn’t love a brightly wrapped present, all glittery and dripping in ribbon, topped with a multitude of bows?! Have you ever wondered who first thought of wrapping gifts?

In researching, I have found that fabric was used to wrap presents as far back as 57 BC, Korean folk religions began the practice. In ancient China gifts of money were wrapped in paper, forming an envelope called chih pao. These were made from bamboo fiber and rice straws. It was common during the Victorian era for well-to-do folks to wrap their gifts.

Perhaps credit should be given to the founders of Hallmark® for the popular wrapping paper we use now. The Hall brothers' ingenuity brought forth the wonderful swathes of colorful paper by coming up with their own designs and marketing them to a willing society. They introduced the modern printed paper in 1917.

Paper wrap is often made from wood pulp, bleached, and then printed. Kraft paper, similar to grocery bags, is not bleached, hence the color.

Today, Western culture often includes ribbons, bows, and tags. In Chinese culture, packages wrapped in red often symbolize luck, health, and happiness. In Japan, the use of wrap and bows is quite common however a traditional cloth wrapping called furoshiki, from the 1600s, offers an ecological alternative.

Gift wrap has become a big business worldwide. Sales of gift wrap and related accessories topped 15.1 billion in 2018. Wrapping gifts is a year-long event, with birthdays and Christmas some of the most popular events for giving gifts. Decorated gift bags have joined the gift wrapping world, making it easier for those who just can’t wrap a package. Tags and ribbons are just as popular.

The well-decorated package is often considered part of the gift. Studies have shown that gift wrap has a positive effect on the receiver. One of the drawbacks to all this wonderful paper is the fact that 4 million pounds of paper end up in landfills each year. Reuse and recycling can be an answer. Alternative methods of wrapping gifts have become popular with the ecologically minded. Fabric, used both in pieces or sewn into bags, has become popular.

The opportunity for the creative mind allows for a fun foray into the world of gift wrap. We have so many options available to us to create our own personalized wrap. Homemade paper can be made using recycled paper and YouTube tutorials. Ready-made craft papers such as drawing paper, vellum, and others can be stamped, stenciled, colored even hand-painted. Tags are also fun to create, you can find them in paper, wood, and tin versions, to name a few, ready to decorate.

The samples above were made using cling stamps, stamp pads, acrylic paint, stencils, and various papers.

Happy Holidays!


Photo Credits –, & & DigiArt by Di

369 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page