There is nothing about my personality type or skill set that lends itself to wrapping presents.
I’m impatient. I can’t cut a straight line to save my life. I constantly get the two ends of the Scotch tape stuck together. My folds are sloppy. Half the time, I have to cut another piece to cover exposed gift because the piece of wrapping paper wasn’t big enough. My knots slip. My bows droop.
And yet, each year wrapping gifts is one of my favorite parts of the season.
I used to hate wrapping presents. Or, at least, I said I did. I think what I meant was, “This doesn’t come naturally to me” and “I don’t like the end result” and also “Gosh, this takes a long time.” All those things are true, and yet, even all put together, those truths don’t have to add up to a much-despised task.
Over a decade ago, realizing that I still had many years of holiday-momming ahead of me, I decided to flip the script on wrapping gifts. I decided that, instead of it being a task I dreaded – or avoided – or tried to pawn off on someone else, I’d turn the whole thing into a fun, festive ritual – just for me.
I found a place where I could be comfortable, with a place to sit and a door that locked (my bedroom.) I put Dad in charge and made it clear that I wouldn’t be available for the next two hours. I invested in decent tools (good tape, sharp scissors, boxes in a variety of sizes, beautiful, high-quality wrapping paper which I put a lot of effort into choosing and coordinating.)
I poured a hefty glass of wine and made a snack. I chose music I loved.
And as I sang and sipped and mashed the wrinkled ends of wrapper together with eight or nine too-long pieces of tape, I thought about how happy I hoped the gifts would make my little crew of people, how excited I imagined they would be when they spied the brightly-colored pile under the tree and opened the packages one by one. And yes, I learned to love it.
There are two important caveats to my approach.
First of all, I keep my wrapping ritual to a manageable one- or two-session pile. If it gets too far beyond that, it isn’t fun anymore and I get overwhelmed and grumpy, so I limit the number of people I can buy and wrap for, I take advantage of free gift wrapping at local shops when possible, and I will delegate if necessary.
Second, I had to give myself permission to put an imperfect pile of gifts under the tree. I really love the sight of a stack of beautifully-wrapped gifts, but after doing this for going on 24 years now, I have had to accept that I can either wrap one or two gifts perfectly or 20 gifts adequately.
The beauty is that a stack of 20 gifts with coordinating paper and ribbon, even if that paper is wrinkled and the bows are sloppy, is still an impressive sight.
There are a lot of tasks that go into pulling this whole holiday magic thing off, and not all of them are fun. But my guess is that there are one or two things on your “hate to do” list that could be a lot less objectionable if you paired them with an activity that you like, focused on the good feelings around them, took the pressure off yourself to do them perfectly, and instead just allowed yourself to turn them into a pleasant ritual.
As you look at the remainder of your holiday task list this week, try to inject some fun and warm fuzzies into one or two of your least favorite. You may be surprised by how much more you can enjoy them than you ever thought possible.