At this time of year, we often harken back to family traditions and habits that have stayed with us from childhood. I grew up in a household in which my mom’s attention to detail was unending. Her crudités, baking, and homemade holiday chocolates and caramels were a favorite of our family and friends. She wrapped each holiday gift and tied every bow to photo-ready perfection with ribbons, gift tags, and adornments. This was years, of course, before camera phones and social media stepped in to document every swag. Ever since I started gifting and preparing for the holidays as an adult, I have been attracted to ribbons, bows, and gift-wrapping details in an attempt to create a delightful display and cozy welcoming just as Mom had.
Who knows if the cause is the pandemic or online access with everything at our fingertips? The point is, all aspects of holiday creativity have exploded. Today’s baking masters roll out cookies that are works of art in their own right. They are detailed with dainty gold bows on wreaths and distinctly painted holly leaves and berries. Likewise, trees are trimmed in color schemes that match those of runway shows, and outdoor light displays synced with timely holiday music add a shimmery glow and festive beat to neighborhoods old and new.
The one element of the season that especially takes me to Christmas design bliss is giftwrap. Each year, while looking for the year’s most striking papers, I develop a color scheme just as I do with a design project. I mix and match scale, colors, and accents. Some bear florals, damasks, and toiles that rival beautiful printed fabrics. Others are basic and graphic, celebrating the style that comes from simplicity.
It’s not uncommon for me to pull influences from the fashion world for the mound of gifts that will pile under the tree. Last year, I mixed a spirited combination of whites and golds with black accents and pops of bright pink. But this season, I’m calling on traditional Christmas palettes to wrap the surprises for my sons and the water carbonation machine that I’m gifting to my husband (shhh…don’t tell).
This year I selected my papers from Minted. Chances are you’re familiar with this brand, but if not, I urge you to take a look. Minted encourages creativity, selling its chic designs on everything from holiday cards to printed artwork. And those designs all come from individual fine and graphic artists who submit their work for consideration. The papers that I selected aren’t overly complicated. Candy canes, polka dots, and plaids in their most simple forms are the base for a bevy of ornamentation.
I lean on my design instinct of layering for the packages that I wrap. Sometimes I’ll take the monotone approach with color upon color in the same family. Other times I’ll mix patterns, tying a striped ribbon over a polka-dotted paper base. Regardless, just as rooms aren’t finished until they’re capped with lighting, throws, trays, and other decorative objects that fall under that “accessory” umbrella, my gift boxes aren’t complete without toppers. Jingle bells, ornaments, and live greenery give playful dimension to the packages and a moment of whimsy to be enjoyed by the recipient.
I know that so many of you have considered new forms of creativity this year. Some of you have learned to paint, some of you have revisited your cooking skills, and a number of you have gotten the ball rolling for updates to your home. But this Christmas, think about how you’ll wrap those Amazon deliveries. Just like a room, vary color, scale, and texture. I promise you’re loved ones will be impressed. And so will Santa.