Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve: on wrapping gifts

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm busily wrapping gifts. Here's my collection of random thoughts during the process:
  • Wrapping always takes twice as long as I plan. No matter how much time I set aside for wrapping, it always takes much longer.
  • Crinkly noises, loose bows, dangling ribbon, flapping wrapping paper: wrapping gifts is serious playtime for the cats. They really want to "help"; by help, I mean "tear your wrapping paper to shreds and unravel all the ribbon".
  • Recycling boxes from previous years is good. It's efficient and environmentally friendly, and helps you fill your unused storage space in the basement with combustible material.
  • Two exceptions: if your wife unwraps a Victoria's Secret box, there had better be something from Victoria's Secret inside the box (lost spousal points are doubled if there's a cleaning or cooking utensil in the box). And, much worse: a guy I know tells a story (funny now, much less so at the time) about planning a really thoughtful gift for his wife. She had a problem getting in the house when she carpooled, since half the time she left the garage door opener in the car. Or, she'd remember it, but forget to put it back in the car when she got home. So he got her an extra garage door opener and programmed it; she could carry it in her purse, and leave the original one in the car. Thoughtful and practical -- a great gift. But he gave it to her in a box from a high-end jewelry store. Ouch....
  • Sign I might be a tightwad: even though we buy bows ten for a dollar at the after-Christmas sales, I still use scotch tape to hold them on, instead of using the self-adhesive tabs on the back. This way, I can re-use them later!
  • It took me some time to realize that I'm wrapping Laura's gifts for her benefit, not for mine. She likes ribbon and bows, so I use ribbon and bows. She likes pretty paper (not the Sunday funnies), so I use pretty paper. It's all about the recipient, not the guy doing the wrapping.
  • Efficiency is good, but here's some advice for type-A engineering-minded people such as myself. Even if you measure all the gifts and the rolls of wrapping paper and do elaborate planning and math to minimize the size of your offcuts and re-use offcuts to wrap other gifts, don't tell the normal people. They don't want to know, and they won't be impressed. You can always tell other type-A engineering-minded people; you might even end up in an unofficial competition for efficient use of paper. But don't tell anyone else.
  • I'm thinking that next year, I'll start the cats playing with wrapping supplies a few weeks in advance. When gift time comes, they'll be bored with the ribbon and bows and less inclined to "help".

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