Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Simple Gifts

I adore the holiday season.  Not just Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but the whole season.  I especially love to surprise people I treasure with little gifts throughout the month.  For my sister and mother, this usually means small but useful trinkets like pretty holiday napkins or votive candles.

Maybe the best part of giving (and for me, receiving!) gifts, is the wrapping.  When I was a kid, I loved to wrap all the presents for my mother each Christmas.  She would hand me a box and tell me who  it was for, and then I'd wrap it accordingly, pretending I was one of the women in the department stores who gift-wraps items for customers at Christmas.  I especially loved to curl the ribbons with my mother's sharp scissors.  I think I often even wrapped my own presents without knowing it until afterwards.  My mother was sneaky that way! 

This year I'm using my old standbys, plain brown craft paper and white tissue, so that I can dress them up in whatever way I fancy.  I often like to include a small extra gift on the outside of the package that relates to the gift on the inside of the package.

In the case of these cocktail napkins, I tied a white porcelain spoon, for serving mustards or chutneys at holiday parties.  I also tucked in a sprig of fresh bay leaves, which can be tossed into a pot of sauce or soup for flavoring.  I love using simple baker's twine for a little present like this.  It reminds me of candy canes, which I covet, plus it's economical.  A large spool (enough to last me at least a year) costs $10.  Oh, and I reuse tissue whenever I can!  If it's wrinkled, I just iron it out and it looks like new.

I found the galvanized star gift tag as well as the baker's twine at one of my favorite local Portland shops, Folly 101, but you can find them online, too.  You just write the recipient's name with chalk or a grease pencil, and then they can erase it and reuse the tag when they give a gift--or hang it on their tree as an ornament. 

One of my girlfriends has her birthday at the beginning of December, so I packed her up a box of Magpie finds, including these tiny pinecone votives.  I couldn't resist them, plus they're the state flower of Maine, so I'm sending her a little piece of the place I love. 

Just before I closed the box, I tossed in a few fresh bay leaves to make it look and smell beautiful when she opens it.

The box itself is a silk-covered one that came with a scarf I recently bought.  I always save pretty boxes to reuse, and this one fit the treasures I'd found for my friend perfectly.  I simply tied it with a very wide piece of ribbon that I bought last year during the after-holiday sales at Christmas Tree Shop, when they were selling gorgeous ribbon for almost nothing.

Like nearly everyone I know, I am on a serious budget this year, but I still love giving gifts to the people I treasure.  I'm making several gifts, giving smaller presents, and reusing nearly all my wrapping materials, but I don't think that means the presents can't be just as wonderful as ever.  Maybe even more so.  

I'd love to hear from you about your holiday shopping, crafting, baking, and wrapping this year.  What are your plans for the season?


  1. I love "brown paper packages tied up with string" ... as the song said, they are one of my favorite things! The mulberry leaves and small extra gift add such a nice touch.

  2. You have given us all a gift with these beautiful gift images. Your creativity shames me -I just use boring Xmas paper and leave it at that...the shame. And we are a family who carefully unwraps and doesn't tear wrapping too. Might be time to lift my game I think. Will have to look out for baker's twine...can't recall ever seeing it.

  3. I, too use brown paper with the candy cane twine - it's simply beautiful! I also reuse gift bags and fabric boxes that I keep for the next year if the recipient doesn't want to keep it themselves. Wonderful post and gorgeous photos as usual, Gigi! xxoo :)

  4. Dearest Gigi,

    You should have labeled your post: Eco-Friendly! Lots of people could learn from you for recycling things and still creating the most lovely gifts ever.
    Enjoy this season and I compliment you for the way you handle it. We've never done gift giving for Christmas as St. Nicholas on December 5th and 6th was our day...
    Love to you,


  5. Love brown butcher paper for wrapping gifts and then decorating with pretty ribbons. This year my family are getting nice socks with something special tucked inside. Not sure how they will be wrapped. Also making many of my gifts this year with either fused glass or small framed pictures in glass and wrapped and soldered in copper foil.

  6. Just beautiful Gigi..you have given me some great ideas!

  7. I have never thought of using baker's twine for ribbon. I love it!

    Several years ago someone I love was unable to buy presents on the scale that he normally did. But he had quite an enviable collection of beautiful and useful things which, to the near-teary-eyed surprise of the recipients (including me), he gave out for Christmas gifts. It is probably my most memorable Christmas ever.

    Merry Christmastime to you!


  8. I love the organic look of the leaves and pinecones with the brown paper. I'd love to have you link up to my Wednesday Wrap Party going on now! Warm Hugs,

  9. Your gifts look particularly lovely Gigi.... and so thoughtful, which is the most important part... xv

  10. Hi Gigi,
    Well, I know from experience, how beautifully you wrap your gifts. When I won your giveaway a couple of years ago, it was so gorgeously wrapped that I didn't want to open it !!
    We have always wrapped our presents with great care and try to make the wrapping as good as the gift inside. My sister and I have always loved wrapping our gifts and, like you, all wrapping paper is saved and used again as well as the ribbons etc !! It's a bit of a family tradition.
    Your gifts look beautiful and the gifts themselves are so thoughtful.
    It's the most wonderful time of the year. XXXX

  11. *swoon*...your wrapping photos are a treat for the eyes, Gigi--pure eye candy! I use brown paper a lot for wrapping. I can get a white variant too, which is especially lovely at Christmas with candy cane twine or ribbon. I like simple wrapping best, I suppose. We made an English-style Christmas cake, and been "feeding" it cognac for some weeks now--can't wait to taste! I bake a good bit usually. But you will be shocked to know that I'm really not a very Christmasy person. I do winter Solstice more. I'm a bit of a pagan. ;o) LOVE those pine cone candles...very sweet. Happy Days making ready for the holidays, my friend ((HUGS))

  12. Such thought and beautiful simplicity Gigi. Your friends must just wait to receive a gift from you. Lovely. XO

  13. I love your ideas for gift wrapping. I bought some red and white twine last year and I am going to use it with brown paper for my gifts just as you suggested. I am a first time visitor to your blog and really enjoyed it!

  14. ...brown paper packages tied up with string... me too!

    I love giving gifts... I love wrapping them... I love the picture you share of you as a little girl imagining that you were a department store gift wrapper.

    (Sneaky mom....)

  15. YOur photography is beautiful and I love your giftwrap approach. It was actually my goal to do brown and white paper this year. Would love to find the string. I know I am going to enjoy adding your blog to my favorites to follow.

  16. Anyone would love to receive a gift so beautifully wrapped for them! They are charming Gigi!

    I always have good intentions of wrapping beautifully but I am such a procrastinator that I usually end up doing something in a rush:) I do have memories of many years of wrapping all my mother and father's gifts with my sister ...usually on Christmas Eve:)

  17. oh my goodness...these packages are sheer and utter delight.
    You have a way woman...

  18. such pretty gifts! i was (sometimes still am) my mother's official gift wrapper too.

  19. I love your ideas for Christmas decorating ideas was searching the net and I came across your wonderful blog, congratulations and Merry Christmas from Spain.

  20. oh man, but i love this. the sheer lushness of that simplicity cannot be beat. and i LOVE those votives! i would never ever light them. :)

  21. Gift wrapping is one of my favorite things. There is just something wonderful about unwrapping a box instead of digging into a bag. We make lots of presents in my classroom. One of my favorite things is teaching my students to wrap them. Big fun.


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