One of my favorite things about the holidays has always been gift wrapping. I realize that many find it time-consuming, stressful, and wasteful, but I’ve always enjoyed grabbing a mug of hot cocoa or a glass of wine, turning on the Hallmark channel, and spending a few hours on the floor wrapping presents. As a mom, I appreciate this time even more because it becomes kid-free, me time.
Sometimes, though, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of gifts I have to wrap.
There are gifts for immediate family members: my husband, my daughters, and their gifts to each other. There are gifts for extended family and friends. There is the wrapping that Santa has outsourced to me. And because we do not live near any family, there are all the gifts that arrive on our doorstep directly from Amazon, Target, or Walmart – so many of them! Often my relatives don’t spend the extra money to have these gifts wrapped, and I don’t blame them – it is an additional cost of about $4 – but I am not one to stick a space-consuming brown shipping box under the tree, so I find myself unboxing these presents and adding them to my growing pile of things to wrap.
I started to dread the constant appearance of brown boxes at my doorstep, but a few years ago, a gift from my aunt changed my perspective.
Like many of our other friends and family members, my aunt had selected gifts from our Amazon wish lists and shipped them directly to our house, but unlike so many others, she opted to pay the extra for gift wrapping. When I opened the Amazon boxes, I found our gifts had all arrived in pretty, well-made, large fabric bags tied closed with thick matching ribbon drawstring. At the time, I was just appreciative that I did not have to wrap the additional presents, but I would soon learn that the bags themselves were presents.
A few weeks after Christmas that year, my daughter was invited to a birthday party. We went to Target, and I let her pick out a gift. Like so many toy packages, this one was awkwardly shaped, with a weird bulge sticking out of the otherwise rectangular box. As I used the last of my birthday paper, I managed to puncture a hole in the paper, and the box was too wide to fit in even the largest of my gift bags. As I rifled through my wrapping box, I pulled out a large, shiny, blue Amazon gift bag. The toy fit perfectly inside, and I didn’t even have to use tissue paper.
Thus, my love affair with Amazon gift bags began.
I mentioned the love to friends and family, and several of them paid the additional cost for gift wrapping with future gifts. I started paying the additional gift-wrapping cost myself any time I was shipping a gift directly to someone (and admittedly, once or twice when the gift was coming here, just so I could have a few extra bags). When I’d bring a gift to a party, people would notice the “pretty bag,” and with the same enthusiasm that I announce a dress has pockets, I would tell them it was an Amazon gift bag! My husband quickly recognized that I valued them, even warned my children not to throw them away, and soon realized that they also made wrapping gifts for me a thousand times easier. I soon had an Amazon bag filled with Amazon bags, and I no longer fretted over how I would wrap any awkward or large gift because I likely had an Amazon bag for that.
The bags had totally changed my wrapping game.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do not rely on Amazon bags to wrap every gift; my children are invited to far too many birthday parties for that; I think tearing through (recyclable) wrapping paper is part of the joy of receiving a gift; and I am not willing to give up my wine-fueled, Hallmark-sponsored, gift-wrapping me-time around the holidays. But I have found the Amazon gift bags provide a quick, easy, attractive, and reusable solution any time I face an awkwardly shaped gift or am in a real-time crunch. And each time I had off a gift in an Amazon gift bag, I secretly hope the recipient realizes that the bag is part of the gift.