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Gifted Gift Wrappers

Creating the prettiest packages

Andria
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Katherine Tower

IT'S A WRAP Katherine Tower loves giving a beautifully wrapped gift. For Christmas, she makes sure to coordinate colors so that the gifts look as pretty as the tree. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

It’s all about the packaging.” Thus declares Katherine Tower, a gregarious mom of three teenaged boys, and a gifted gift wrapper.

That’s especially true, Katherine says, during the holidays. “Isn’t it fun to open up your door and see what people have left? You think, ‘Somebody did that for me!’ I love it when somebody hands me a really pretty package. They score big.”

Under the tutelage of her father, Roy McDermott, Katherine has been wrapping pretty packages since she was a little girl. “He was the best gift wrapper,” she says of her father. “Mom had a working ranch, and he’d spend hours wrapping the presents for all their business associates and anybody who worked for them. I cannot tell you how many he would wrap. He can give the most beautiful package. To this day he still loves to giftwrap, and he’s 90. People in Fort Worth [Katherine’s hometown] still talk about it.”

Katherine’s dad is known for attaching trinkets to his presents. “He’d save all the little stuff – pretty little ornaments or plastic things – from year to year. I honest to God don’t know where he got them, but there were some favorites, and whoever got them on their gift that year ‘won.’

“Dad always said the packages under the tree had to be as pretty as the tree.” And Katherine has adopted that motto.

“If you’re gonna commit to the tree, make it beautiful,” she says. “Nothing drives me more crazy than to walk into a house where the gifts are not coordinated. It ruins the whole tree.”

Coordinating tree and gifts for Katherine means choosing three to four colors each year and sticking to that theme throughout the holidays. “That’s what I’m a freak about more than anything,” she says. “Every package has to be one of the four colors.”

Katherine chooses colors based on what blends with her home. “I have a dark gray living room, so a lot of times I’ll do all black with different colored ribbons to blend with the colors in my artwork. I love shiny black packages with gorgeous colored bows on them. Beautiful bows make such a difference.” She suggests scouting the Container Store or Craftex for solid black paper. “This year, I’ve got a lot of purples and greens and pinks. But I can’t really do pink, because there are no girls in the house.

“For my Jewish friends, I love to wrap in pretty bright blue and silver. And instead of tags, I’ll get those pretty paint pens which are gorgeous directly on the paper in really pretty handwriting.”

Katherine coaches would-be wrappers to “really pull the paper tight. It’s really easy, she says. “It’s just about folding it tight next to the box.”

Denise Moseley, a creative mother of three teenagers and one almost-teen, also likes to use unexpected colors for Christmas wrap. “If you keep the paper simple, you can go crazy with beautiful ribbons. I love to gravitate toward rich plums, chocolate brown, olivine green, silvery taupes and deep crimson for ribbons in both velvet and silk,” she says. “Silvery gray or pewter is perhaps my favorite one of all. Not as traditional as the red and green, but more interesting.”

To find such unusual colors, Denise scours the annual International Quilt Festival in Houston each November. “It is a great source, no kidding,” she says. “You can find beautiful ribbons and silk flowers, tassels, all kinds of things, both vintage and new, to work with.

“I’m a little obsessed,” Denise says. “I have a drawer in my back hallway full of ribbons ready to go. And upstairs I have a sewing room-office with drawers of ribbon. I kind of hoard this stuff.”

Denise likes to layer ribbons of different widths, wrapping a wide, wired ribbon around a package, then winding twine or strings several times around that to create overlapping depth. “You might tuck a feather, flower, holly leaves or other nature-inspired finding into the twine,” she says. “It does not always have to have a bow.

“I love incorporating metallic, heavy thread. For Hanukkah I will use kraft paper and silver thread wrapped over and over again on top of really wide royal blue ribbon.”

One more tip: wrap each family member’s gifts in their own color. “With four kids and a husband, [color coding] makes it easy when trying to pull gifts from under the tree. Each child has their own color.” Pretty and practical. Happy gift giving!

Read It's a Wrap: When that holiday task is a treat by Andria Frankfort for more on gift-wrapping traditions. 

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