As creatives, we’re constantly on the hunt for new and exciting ideas, inspiration and all things artistic. Wrapping paper was a no-brainer for us when it comes to putting a personal touch on something special for your loved ones. In a world with such curated, cookie-cutter products on the market, gift-wrapping has become the perfect way to express yourself artistically and show your friends up…(lets face it…some of us have the skill, some do not.)
Believe it or not, wrapping paper took off for the first time in 100 BC, before Christmas even existed. It was used to present offerings to royalty only, and they were typically made from hemp.
The Japanese used something similar called the furoshiki, which is a reusable wrapping cloth that you can still find used in some cultures today. In the west, using a wrap or paper covering for gifts has been a long-standing tradition.
Wealthy Victorians would use sophisticatedly decorated paper with ribbons and lace to wrap gifts. In the 20th century we saw the decline of thick decorative papers which made way for coloured tissue, often in solid colours only.
1917: The Year that everything changed.
Okay – That maybe a bit of an exaggeration. Regardless, 1917 was the start of the wrapping paper revolution. Joyce and Rollie Hall opened shop as a stationary store in New York selling everything from envelopes and typewriter stock to paper clips and paperweights. They were having a busier than usual holiday season when they ran out of their standard solid coloured tissue paper. They innovatively used “fancy French paper”, typically used as a liner for envelopes as a replacement, setting the price at a hefty 10 cents a sheet.
Yes, 10 cents a sheet, which was quite the price to pay for a sheet of paper back then…and no, wrapping paper did not come by the roll like it does today.
This was the beginning of a successful and well-known franchise company among North Americans:
Joyce and Rollie Hall became so successful with their off-hand invention that they franchised and re-branded as “Hallmark”, which came with a slew of challenges and obstacles:
How to sell the idea of wrapping gifts. Indeed, there had been wrapping choices similar to what the Hallmark stores were now trying to sell, but this was something so much larger than your trivial tissue paper wrap that comes in limited colour choices.
The 1930’s introduced patterns & illustrations, which was a welcomed change from the solid colours and striped options available in the past.
Artists and illustrators got in on the fun and started creating individual patterns for the sheets. Because the paper came in sheets, a consumer would typically buy several in order to wrap an entire gift. Thankfully we’ve become much more resourceful over the years.
With wrapping paper disappearing off the shelves faster than it could be stocked came the inevitable rise of scotch tape, which was originally created to help seal food, but soon was leveraged as your go-to tool for wrapping presents. Hallmark held on to its innovative reputation by inventing the gift bag in 1987.
Since the rise of gift-wrapping, it’s almost unheard of to neglect to wrap a present before giving it to someone. Take a look at some of the creative ways people are wrapping up their gifts in 2017: