Wrapping Gifts With My Toddler: Lessons Learned

My three year old has been very invested in Christmas this year. He wants a hand in every activity that makes this holiday special for our family. I love that he wants in on all the holly jolliness, but when he wanted to “help me” wrap the gifts, I knew that “help” really meant “go ballistic with paper and tape.”

I’m a perfectionist, and as much as I’d love to see perfectly wrapped gifts with crisp edges and sharp corners all lined up in matching paper under my tree, it’s more important to me for my son to feel involved and be proud of helping. I took a deep breath and let go of what I wanted and welcomed him into the world of wrapping.

Except it’s not that easy. I learned a couple of lessons while attempting to wrap with my son. In case you should find yourself in the same situation, here’s what I learned…

Lessons learned while wrapping presents with a toddler:

  1. Buy stock in Scotch tape. Your toddler will go through at least six rolls on one present. The gift recipient will need a sharp tool to open the box, but at least you’ll know it’s secure.
  2. All presents need a bow, but more than likely, they need multiple bows. This includes
    The more bows, the merrier!

    gift bags. Everything. Needs. A. Bow. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be an actual bow. Every gift just needs something stuck to the top. It could be a piece of dried out turkey from lunch. Ask me how I know.

  3. You cannot throw away a single scrap of paper, so don’t even try. These are all precious to toddlers, who are essentially tiny hoarders. Each pattern and design is special… perhaps you can wallpaper your child’s room in the scraps. #upcycle
  4. Empty wrapping paper tubesare swords; this is a fact. Gift wrapping will turn into a fight to the death. After conquering you, your toddler may loudly trumpet their victory cry through the very same weapon that took you out. It’s all part of the true drama of Christmas!
  5. If a toddler sees the contents of a package, there is not a single chance that surprise will survive until Christmas Day. It’s over. The recipient will know the full details of their gift the next time they see said toddler.

    Needs more tape.
  6. Constantly check for partially unwrapped presents or wrapping paper smeared with peanut butter or other evidence of sneaky, prying toddler hands. Decide if this really needs to be cleaned up or if it blends in as part of the festive decoration.
  7. If all else fails, wrap after bedtime where your only “helper” is a bottle of wine.



And after it’s all said and done, just remind the gift recipients that their presents were wrapped not just in paper, ribbons, and bows, but in love.

Questionable wrapping skills may preserve the mystery… but only until your toddler blurts out the contents.
Erica Tran
Erica lives in Kenner with her husband Michael and her three sons, Benjamin, Joshua, and Elijah. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost toys and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial about just how messy her house is.


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