Unique gift wrapping paper might make for a fun conversation piece, but it’s definitely not essential to the holiday experience. Wrapping paper is a pretty new invention, after all — the “gift wrap business,” as Mental_floss refers to it, wasn’t born until the Hall brothers started printing “their own special paper for concealing presents” in 1919. While unique gift wrapping paper doesn’t make the gift, a great wrapping job can make the experience all the more special, and the tradition has been around for generations.
Those same Hall brothers went on to found their own chain of stores, and you can probably guess the name: Hallmark. The rest is history, as they say, but gift wrapping history goes back a lot further than gift wrap paper itself. People used cloth for hundreds of years beforehand, most notably in Japan, where the furoshiki cloth continues to dress up gifts for all occasions.
Print Magazine notes that “Furoshiki date back to at least the EDO period (1603-1868),” and even though people weren’t focused on “going green” back then, Print goes on to remark that “it’s clear we’re better off reusing the stuff where possible.”
Unfortunately, not many Americans have gotten the hint. According to PR Newswire, only 53 percent of adults surveyed have ever reused wrapping paper, and it’s probably safe to assume that a large chunk of those who have reused it haven’t done so religiously.
While consumers and the environment are the clear losers in this equation, there’s one party that’s happy to keep the gift wrap flowing through the ages.
In the present day (pun intended!), the gift wrap industry is a multibillion-dollar business — The Atlantic has the number at something like “$2.6 billion annually.”
Just to put it into perspective, think about all of the paper goods Americans have used throughout the course of the year. Whether it be at school, work, or wherever, it’s safe to assume that this adds up to a lot of paper. In fact, we don’t need to assume — The Atlantic wrote that Americans consume “85 million tons of paper products” each year — but perhaps the most remarkable part about that fact is the notion that “as much as half of (it) … goes toward packaging, wrapping, and decorating objects.” That’s a lot of gift wrap!
With so many gifts being wrapped, it’s no surprise that someone put in a bit of time to figure out how to expedite the process. With all those years using furoshiki to wrap, it’s even less of a surprise that it’s the Japanese who perfected the procedure.
There was a video that went viral a couple years back that depicted a man wrapping gifts in a Japanese department store. If that sounds boring, it’s likely because you haven’t seen the speed at which he works. Practice makes perfect, but starting in the right place makes all the difference. In the viral video, it’s hard to make out what the craftsman has already laid out, but someone else on the Web did the dirty work and laid out the tips in the clip below.
Let us know what you found most interesting about this method, and be sure to let us know how you prefer to wrap them in the comments! When the video’s over, share it with your friends on Facebook to spread the holiday cheer!