The Surprising History and Evolution of Gift Wrapping

The Surprising History and Evolution of Gift Wrapping

While it is a widespread festive practice that gets you ready for the holidays, birthdays, and everything in between, sometimes you can’t help but wonder, “Why do we gift wrap?” Excellent question! With gift wrapping dating back for centuries, many believed in the notion of hiding a gift until the last possible minute underneath cloth and paper.

But there is more to the surprising history and evolution of gift wrapping! Prepare for a journey through time as we start with its humble beginnings and the impact the practice has on us today.

Humble Beginnings

The earliest versions of gift wrap originate from the 1600s, when the Japanese introduced the furoshiki, a reusable wrapping cloth, into their gifting techniques. In Korea, the bojagi became another variation of the reusable gift fabric that many folk religions would turn to during the Three Kingdoms period. The idea of using these materials to wrap presents was a notion believed to bring recipients protection and good fortune.

In China, wrapping paper enclosed monetary gifts in an envelope called a chih pao. Ultimately, the coarsest wrapping material consisted of rice straws and bamboo fiber.

Out west, the Victorians found a way to use decorative paper to wrap their gifts. They topped the presents with ribbons and lace, and this method became a luxury practice only present in affluent communities.

Modern Day

Throughout its progression, gift wrap made a blip on the holiday scene with the growing popularity of Christmas cards. In the mid-1800s, the printed patterns on Christmas cards were an ever-increasing staple that proved popular enough to start printing on tissue paper. The demand for the material would increase until becoming extraordinarily popular in America.

When it comes to the modernization of wrapping tissue and other material, there’s no one to credit other than Rollie and Joyce Hall. It’s essential to note that the brothers did not invent the practice; however, their contributions transformed the wrapping ritual we all know and—sometimes—enjoy today.

Rollie and Joyce Hall ran a stationery store in 1917. Due to the demand for standard tissue paper during the holiday season, naturally, the brothers run out of stock. In a bold and life-changing move, the brothers decided to sell some French envelope lining paper. After selling out quickly, Rollie and Joyce Hall knew they were onto something.

After unknowingly starting an innovative industry, Rollie and Joyce Hall moved to sell their printed wrapping product permanently. In just two years, their company became a leader in producing abundant quantities of gift wrap to sell across the country.

History of Ribbon and Introduction to Gift Wrapping

Of course, you can’t have gift wrap and not have a beautiful ribbon to accompany it. Fortunately, the make and use of ribbons have a history just as extensive as that of gift wrap; its inclusion in special occasions and holiday decorations are only part of its versatility.

Ribbons were handmade projects of the most delicate thread, making the material quite expensive during the early ages. The material was so popular that the English Parliament saw ribbons as exclusive material that should only belong to the nobility and upper-class to signify wealth and luxury.

Throughout the ages, ribbons stormed the fashion world and saw uses in clothing and hair accessories, with appearances in the Industrial Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and the Victorian era.

Jumping to modern times, the earliest use of ribbon in present wrapping on record dates to the 1930s, when stationery stores started to test ribbon on gift wrap in their attempt to achieve a more festive look. This duo always brings a smile to a recipient’s face and has made multiple appearances a year, especially on birthdays and holidays.

Innovative Gift Wrap

As beautiful as patterned gift wrap can be, its fragility can cause it to tear. Given this trait, people had to think outside the box with gift wrapping material.

As a move in sustainability, many crafters would repurpose paper shopping bags from seasonal stores as gift wrap to avoid wasting more material. This paper would prove sturdier than the usual gift wrap and tissue paper and add a unique touch.

While most people might find paper bag wrap bland and unexciting, the brown paper offers a blank canvas that you can customize with many designs. For example, weaving washi tape of different colors and patterns creates a layered effect that dresses up plain brown paper.

For a more interactive approach, three-dimensional gift wrapping involves gluing small toys and crayons on top of a wrapped gift. This method is popular with children since it adds a bit more fun to gifting.

Some crafters chose to ditch the gift wrap altogether and opt for gift boxes. This option proves a popular alternative to paper as it still displays the same festive patterns but doesn’t require tape and scissors.

Innovative Ribbon Use

As you know, ribbon usually tops a present in the form of an extravagant bow, but did you know that you could use the material in place of gift wrap? For a nifty wrapping hack, start with plain white boxes and some birthday ribbon or any ribbon that matches the occasion. Cut strips of the material and glue them onto the gift boxes with a glue gun.

You can place, position, and weave ribbons to your liking, but for a textured effect, opt for ribbons of varying lengths to avoid a flat presentation. Top off your décor with a beautiful bow for a classic finishing touch, and your gift is ready to give.

That sums up the surprising history and evolution of gift wrapping. The act of giving is more rewarding than receiving. Watching a special someone peel away that shiny paper to unveil an unexpected present is an experience worth all the tape, scissors, and time.

But of course, wrapping presents doesn’t stop at tissue paper and patterned gift wrap. You’ll need the perfect ribbon to compliment your material, and here at Ribbon By Design, we have just what you need!

Our selection of beautiful, luxurious ribbons comes in patterns and designs fit for all occasions. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, we have custom ribbon options for your needs. Please don’t hesitate to browse through our catalog today!

The Surprising History and Evolution of Gift Wrapping

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