Gift Wrapping Exposed: 20 Unbelievable Facts You Need To Know

Written by: Lara
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Wrapping paper

Did you ever wonder about the history of gift wrapping or ask yourself who invented wrapping paper? (Spoiler alert, it wasn’t Hallmark). Then you came to the right place! In today’s post, we will debunk myths (find out if diagonal wrapping saves paper or not) and share 20 fascinating facts about gift wrap!

I’m talking about statistics on the world market of wrapping paper, surprising things you should know before wrapping gifts for close friends and family, and more facts that will blow your mind. (Or at least, they blew my mind).

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15 facts about gift wrapping

Fun facts about how to wrap gifts

#1 People prefer nicely wrapped gifts

Christmas wrapping
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Well, this is probably nothing new for you, because why else have you been wrapping gifts all your life, right?

Presentation counts and several studies have proven people’s tendency to pick colorful and beautifully wrapped gifts over sloppy ones. So check out these eco-friendly wrapping ideas for inspiration that will wow your recipient and the planet!

But there is a catch.

Check out the next wrapping paper fun fact to find out what the catch is.

(Source)


#2 For close friends and relatives it’s better to wrap sloppily

Sloppy wrapped gift
A sloppily wrapped gift

Wait, did you read that correctly?

Did I just tell you to do a worse job at wrapping gifts for the people you care about the most?

Yes, I did. And the best part? It’s actually based on science.

In the past, studies have always examined how people respond to nicely versus sloppily wrapped gifts, but they didn’t specify anything about the giver.

In this study, the relationship between the giver and receiver was also taken into account. And guess what?

Nicely wrapped gifts for friends raise expectations which makes it harder to live up to that expectation and results in less appreciation of the gift!

If you need some inspiration, check out these funny gift wrap ideas that will surely set low expectations for your gifts, and make them laugh!

This theory does not apply to strangers or acquaintances, however. In those cases, your gift presentation is a representation of how you value the relationship, rather than an indication of the quality of your gift.

For me, this was one of the most mind-blowing gift-wrapping facts.

(Source)


#3 Diagonal wrapping does not save paper

Diagonal wrapping
Regular vs diagonal wrapping

If you have no idea what diagonal wrapping is and you’ve never tried it to save paper, you can just continue to the next fact. (Or stay, and learn more about this hype that turned out to be a myth).

If you are a partisan of the diagonal wrapping technique, hear me out (and don’t shoot the messenger please).

So first things first.

What is diagonal wrapping?

It’s a technique from Japan that was hyped a few years ago, where instead of the standard wrapping, you turn the gift about 45 degrees (diagonally, hence the name) and then pack it. If my explanation and photo are not very helpful, check out the video below.

It was said to be faster, easier, and save wrapping paper. While I can’t argue with the first two statements, I will fight the latter one.

Once there was a wise man who decided to test the theory and actually calculated the total surface area of the paper needed for different wrapping methods.

It turned out to be a myth. The surface area the of paper needed for diagonal wrapping is the same as “regular” wrapping. The dimensions differ, which makes knowing both techniques useful if you only have a specific size of wrapping paper left.


Fun facts about the history of gift wrapping

#4 First record of gift wrap dates back to 100 BC in China

Curious to know who invented wrapping paper?

Well, let me tell you, it’s not something that was invented in our age. In fact, the oldest record of a gift being wrapped dates back to 100 BC in China!

Now, before you start picturing the ancient Chinese getting creative with bows, ribbons, and sticky tape, there are a few side notes you should know.

First, historians believe that during this time gifts were mainly wrapped for protection, rather than for the purpose of concealing the gift. Which is the main reason why we wrap gifts nowadays.

Second, forget about the bows, ribbons, and colorful paper. Papermaking was only invented in 105 AD (and it was not mass-produced for gift wrapping by that time). So the early gift wrappers didn’t use paper. More likely they used bamboo, leaves, cloths, or other natural resources.

(Source)


#5 Wrapping used to be done with brown paper, sealing wax, and strings

If we continue to follow the history of gift wrapping, we’ll get to the time when paper was finally mass-produced (many years after that first gift-wrapping record in China). And that’s when gift wrapping culture also became popular in many Western cultures.

By this time, concealing the gift was the main objective. The rich could afford fancy wrapping paper with lace and ribbons. The main public, however, mostly used brown paper, at least up until 1917. Check out the next wrapping paper fact to find out what happened in 1917 (source).

Okay, one more fun fact about wrapping paper.

Sticky tape was only invented in the 1920s, so before that people used strings and sticky wax to keep everything together. (Source).


#6 Colorful wrapping paper was brought to the public out of necessity

A collection of gifts wrapped in colorful paper
Hallmark is the founder of colorful wrapping paper

Contrary, to what you often read online, the Hallmark company did not “invent” wrapping paper. As you read about the history of gift wrapping, you know now that gift wrapping has been around for ages.

What the brothers Hall (the founders of the company) did, however, was popularize the colorful and happy wrapping paper we know today.

And the fun part?

They didn’t actually plan to do this, it wasn’t a business plan or anything. The product line grew out of necessity when they ran out of regular brown wrapping paper (which was common at the time in 1917). They sold French envelope lining instead and by accident found a gap in the market.

The French paper sold out in no time and when they tried it again the year after, the same thing happened. By then, they were convinced of the market potential of colorful wrapping paper and started producing it themselves.

(Source)


#7 Hallmark was the first gift wrapping influencer

Hallmark company understood the power of video for commercial benefits long before the job of an influencer existed.

Back in 1958 the Hallmark film called “The Art of Gift Wrapping” was released. It was basically a tutorial video showing Americans how to properly wrap gifts and make bows. The film starred their gift wrap expert Kaye King, who was basically an influencer before it was cool.


#8 Japan is the ultimate hipster; using sustainable wrapping before it was cool

Wrapping cloth
Wrapping cloth

Talking about influencers and doing things before they are cool, Japan is the ultimate hipster when it comes to sustainable wrapping.

As you will learn later on in these facts about wrapping paper, gift wrapping is not really great for the environment.

Lately, there have been quite a lot of movements to promote reusing wrapping paper or using more sustainable methods. And two of those methods called fukusa and furoshiki actually come from Japan. Where they have used reusable cloth covers rather than paper as gift wrapping for ages.


The world marked of wrapping paper

#9 Americans spend over $8 billion annually on wrapping paper 

Cash
Americans spend over $8 billion annually on wrapping paper 

This was probably one of the most shocking facts about wrapping paper for me. Eight billion (with a B) dollars, that’s a lot!

If you also think that number is shockingly high, wait until you see the forecast for the global gift-wrapping market size.


#10 That’s 4.6 million pound (or 2 million KG) in the US alone

A collection of colorful wrapping paper
Annually 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the US

Before we check out the global prediction of the gift-wrapping market. Let’s convert these money numbers to actual weight.

Because the 8 billion dollars spent on wrapping paper equals around 4.6 million pound of wrapping paper (roughly 2 million kg). This is the number that is produced in the US each and every year.

Obviously, the majority of this is used over the holidays (and unfortunately, half of it ends in landfills, check out fact #18).

(Source)


#11 The world marked of wrapping paper is expected to reach $24.9 billion in 2025

This is a fact about wrapping paper that I’ve actually shared before when I talked about the gift market statistics.

So in short, the report by Statista stated that the gift-wrapping market globally is expected to be worth $24,9 billion by 2025. In 2018 this was “only” $15,1 billion, which means that there is a big growth expected. (Source)

As good as this growth may be for the industry, it’s not so great for the environment (check out wrapping paper facts #16-20).


#12 People hate wrapping gifts and would pay someone to do it for them

A shiny wrapped gift
Don’t you hate it when your gifts look like this?

Do you hate wrapping gifts?

You’re not alone. In a study by Slickdeals that surveyed 2000 Americans, just over half (52%) of the respondents said that gift wrapping was the absolute worst part of the holidays.

In fact, about the same number (51%) indicated they would be willing to pay a professional to wrap for them. So if any of you are still in search of a little side hustle over the holidays, this could be your gap in the market 😉.

(Source)


#13 The average person spends $56 on gift-wrapping materials for the holidays.

A collection of nice wrapped Christmas gifts
In the US, an average of $56 is on gift-wrapping materials for the holidays.

Besides being willing to pay others to wrap gifts for them, respondents of that same study would spend 56$ on wrapping materials on average for the holiday season.

From gift bags to ribbons, ties, and fun wrapping paper, it all sums up to 56$ in total.

(Source)


#14 Exclusive gift wrapping can cost up to $24K

Golden decorations
Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash

Alright, well now I understand how this $8 billion on gift wrapping came to be. If one package of gift wrap can cost up to $24K the numbers add up quickly.

So where can you find this gift wrap?

For that, you need to hire Arana Khan. She is a gift wrapping consultant who offers unique gift wrapping services for which she can charge up to 20K pounds, which roughly converts to $24K.

And if you are as surprised as I am by the fact that gift wrapping consultant is an actual job, check out the next gift wrapping fact for more cool jobs.


#15 Gift wrap paper designer is an actual job

LinkedIn search result
Gift wrap designers on LinkedIn

I am not kidding you.

Head over to LinkedIn and search for gift wrap designer and you will find actual people who currently occupy this function.

How freaking cool is that?

Their day-to-day job is to design beautiful and happy wrapping paper so that people can create the most beautiful gifts.


Facts about gift wrapping and recycling

#16 Most wrapping paper is not recyclable

Like most people, I have always put my wrapping paper in the paper bin, like a well-behaved and eco-minded citizen who separates her waste.

Well, guess what?

It turns out that my good-girl behavior is actually not helping the environment!

Most wrapping paper is laminated, dyed, glossy, or full of glitters, which makes it not recyclable. Just as the sticky tape that’s usually still attached to the paper. This is why wrapping paper shouldn’t go into the paper bin but into your regular one.

(Source)

There is an exception though. With the movement towards more sustainable wrapping methods, real paper wrapping paper has become increasingly popular, and this kind of wrapping paper is actually recyclable. (This is also why it’s a more sustainable option). You should still take the sticky tape off before putting it in the paper bin though.

And if you are not sure which bin your wrapping paper should go to, you can do the scrunch test. Scrunch the paper together, if it scrunches it’s recyclable, if it goes back to its former shape it’s not.

Need a visual? Here is Santa demonstrating the scrunch test for you.


#17 Ribbons can mess up an entire paper recycling facility

A gift with a pink ribbon
Ribbons can mess up an entire paper recycling facility

What’s the message of the fact about gift wrapping?

Separate your ribbons from your paper. This also applies to other decorations such as bows and glittery holiday cards, But the ribbons actually have the potential to wrap around spinning shafts that are used in the recycling machines and cause major problems.

As a result, the machine needs to be shut down and cleaned before it can continue.

(Source)


#18 About 2,3 million pounds of wrapping paper ends up in landfills annually in The US

Child unwrapping gifts
Photo by Eli Pluma on Unsplash

Because most of the fancy and colorful wrapping paper we use is not recyclable, the majority of it ends up in landfills.

In the US alone, it is estimated that this is about 2,3 million pounds each year. This is another reason to really go for more sustainable and reusable wrapping options, such as Japanese cloth wrapping or simply reusing wrapping paper.


#19 Reusing wrapping material for 3 gifts per year would save enough to cover 45,000 football fields

A collection of wrapping paper, ribbon and more
Reusing wrapping material for 3 gifts would save enough to cover 45,000 football fields

Often times when we hear the large amount of pounds that are produced or that end up in landfills, our minds cannot comprehend or imagine just how big these numbers are.

I mean, 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper produced, and 2,3 million pounds in landfills, what does that mean?

That’s why Stanford University has examined how much American families can save if each family would just decide to wrap 3 gifts per year in re-used material.

What do you think?

By just re-using wrapping material for three gifts per family, we could save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields!

(Source)


#20 Reusing two feet of ribbon would save enough to tie a bow around the entire planet.

Bag of used ribbons and strings to reuse as a sustainable gift wrap
Reusing 2 feet of ribbon could save 38,000 miles

In that same study, Stanford researchers went on to calculate more possible savings for American families.

And if every family would just reuse two feet of ribbon per year (that’s what you would use for a 3.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches gift), this would save a total of 38,000 miles of ribbon!

And if that number doesn’t say anything to you, picture this.

That’s enough to tie a bow around the entire planet!

Another argument for re-using and more sustainable gift-wrapping ideas!

(Source)


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15 facts about gift wrapping

AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Lara, a 30-year-old travel-lover (but who’s not these days?). I love reading, puzzling, world-heritage sites, researching, and making lists, which comes in quite handy when you’re making lists of travel gift ideas!