Wrap a better gift with these tips from the pros

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

So you survived another Black Friday, and now all your fabulous finds need wrapping.

Itís just a hunch, but weíre guessing thatís not your favorite part of the holidays.

Relax. The wrap artists at Apropos gift shop in Wadsworth, Ohio, are about to make the job a little easier.

The shop is renowned for its gift wrapping, which is complimentary with purchases there. Owner Sally Shantz and longtime employee Ramona Britenriker have developed a trick or two over the years, which they shared with us earlier this week.

So put on some Christmas tunes, and letís get wrapping.

GATHER YOUR TOOLS

Apropos has a gift-wrapping station at its store, where everything needed to produce beautiful packages is within easy reach.

Even if you donít have that luxury in your own home, you can still take a cue from the shopís setup by keeping all your supplies together so you donít have to do a lot of hunting and gathering before you wrap. Probably the easiest way is to use a container big enough to hold everything you need ó wrapping paper, tissue paper, tape, scissors, ribbon, tags, boxes and anything else you normally use.

Itís a good idea to keep scissors, tape and pens with your supplies so theyíll always be handy. Apropos even has separate scissors for cutting wrapping paper and cellophane for gift baskets, since cutting paper dulls scissors. The scissors are marked so employees wonít confuse them.

USE THE RIGHT SUPPLIES

Apropos uses only heavy, good-quality wrapping paper. It can be expensive, but because it doesnít tear as easily as the cheap stuff, it will save you untold aggravation.

A weighted, desk-type tape dispenser is another valuable tool, because it lets you pull and rip the tape with just one hand while youíre holding the paper in place with the other. Apropos uses clear cellophane tape, which yields a prettier package than frosted tape.

The shop also uses unwired floral ribbon, which can be purchased by the bolt at craft stores and is cheaper per yard than gift-wrapping ribbon. Britenriker likes ribbon thatís a little stiff, because it holds bow loops better.

GET ON YOUR FEET

Lots of people wrap gifts while sitting on a floor, but itís better to stand if you can. You can reach everything easily that way, and you wonít strain your back the way you might when youíre hunching over gifts on the ground.

A table or counter work fine. Take a few moments to clear off your work surface before you start, so youíll have plenty of space to unroll wrapping paper.

If youíre using a kitchen surface, be sure to wipe it clean. Crumbs and grease do not make attractive embellishments.

WRAP IN STAGES

When youíre wrapping a number of gifts, itís easier to do it assembly-line style instead of wrapping each gift from start to finish.

Start by putting the gifts in boxes lined with tissue paper, if boxes are needed. Wrap everything next, then add the ribbons, and finally add the bows and tags.

How can you keep the recipients straight? Affix a small sticky note with the recipientís name to each package until you can get the tag on.

MEASURE UP

Most people make the mistake of cutting a piece of wrapping paper thatís too big for the gift, and then they either have to trim it during the wrapping process or struggle with the bulk, Shantz and Britenriker said.

They recommend measuring the gift before you cut, adding just a little extra on all sides. You donít need a measuring tape; you can just wrap a string around the gift, lengthwise and widthwise.

Apropos cuts paper in advance to fit the various sizes of boxes it uses all the time. If you have more than one gift of the same size, cutting the paper for all of them at once will save you time.

TACKLE THE ODD STUFF

Itís always easier to wrap things in boxes, but sometimes thatís not possible.

For oddly shaped items, Shantz recommends wrapping first with bubble wrap or tissue paper, and then wrapping in gift paper. The inner wrapping softens the edges, so youíre less likely to tear the wrapping paper.

Gift bags are another option, but those should be pretty, too. Shantz places the gift in the bag and then covers it with three or more pieces of tissue paper ó usually two of one color and a third in a complementary color or pattern. She grasps each piece of tissue in the center of one edge and pushes it gently down into the bag, so the edges stick out the top.

PUT A BOW ON IT

Ribbons and bows add that extra accent that makes a gift special.

For smaller packages, a simple shoelace bow made from wide ribbon is all thatís needed to dress up a package.

For larger packages, you might want to try your hand at creating a florist bow. Britenriker shows how in an instructional video on Ohio.com.