Did you know that it’s better to give your close friends a sloppily wrapped gift? And do you want to know how much Americans spend on gift packaging annually? In today’s post, you will discover the craziest fun facts about gift wrapping. I’m talking about statistics and wrapping paper facts that will blow your mind. (Or at least, they blew my mind).
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Fun facts about how to wrap gifts
#1 People prefer nicely wrapped gifts
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.
But there is a catch.
Check out the next wrapping paper fun fact to find out what the catch is.
#2 For close friends and relatives it’s better to wrap sloppily
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 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!
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.
#3 Diagonal wrapping does not save paper
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 gift wrapping facts. (Or stay, and learn more about this hype that turned out to be based on false assumptions).
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 both knowing both techniques useful if you only have a specific size of wrapping paper left.
Fun facts about gift wrapping history
#4 First record of gift wrap dates back to 100 BC in China
Wrapping gifts is 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 to this wrapping paper fact.
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.
#5 Wrapping used to be done with brown paper, sealing wax, and strings
When paper was finally mass produced (many years after that first gift wrapping record in China), 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
Contrary, to what you often read online, the Hallmark company did not “invent” wrapping paper. As you read in the previous facts about wrapping paper, gift wrapping had been around for ages.
What the brother’s 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 a 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.
#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
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 (head over to facts #13, #14, and #15 for more about that).
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.
Fun facts about gift wrapping and expenditure
#9 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 The global gift wrapping market 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 #13, #14, and #15).
#11 Exclusive gift wrapping can cost up to $24K
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?
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.
#12 Gift wrap paper designer is an actual job
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
#13 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.
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.
#14 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.
#15 About 2,3 million pounds of wrapping paper ends in landfills annually in The US
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. Which is another reason to really go for more sustainable and reusable options, such as Japanese cloth wrapping or simply reusing wrapping paper.
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