how to wrap the perfect present

Kathleen Caron

photo by Kathleen Caron

This is how the Carons do Christmas: in fits and spurts.  In early December, Marie and I got a live tree, which Joe and I decorated.  I put up the Joe-mandated decorations, including the nutcrackers on the mantel and the miniature skating pond on the sideboard.  A week later I put some lights on the porch and bushes.  Then, absolutely nothing for three weeks. 

On Sunday, December 23rd, we all sprang into a frenzy of shopping and preparation.  The kids went to a mega mall and hubs and I went to ten different stores, scouring through a stack of coupons and special offers, and burning through a stack of money.  We called each other every other minute, “What if it were orange, would you still wear it?  What size do you wear?”

And you know what we got? Mostly practical stuff that we would have gotten anyway. For Marie, we got workout clothes and a hairdryer; for Joe, jeans and a new Under Armour sweatshirt in signal orange, because they were out of the more sedate colors.  For James, we picked up a couple Amazon gift cards, because he just wanted books.  I also got Joe a bunch of protein bars for his wrestling tournament this weekend. 

On Christmas Eve, we went to church and then out to dinner, arriving back home at around 10 PM to the stark realization that no one had wrapped any gifts. “Fine by me if we don’t wrap the gifts,” James stated. “We can just hand them to each other.” But tradition prevailed and everyone disappeared into corners of the house to emerge with stacks of brightly wrapped presents. Some of them were even wrapped in Christmas paper.

Funny thing is, we haven’t bought wrapping paper or gift bags in years.  We just keep recycling the old ones, so you might get a present tucked into a bag with the name scratched out three or four times.  Or maybe it would have no name at all, and you would just have to guess who the present was for.  

We have a little tradition of someone being Santa on Christmas morning, and anymore it always falls to Joe, I guess because he is the youngest. One by one, he picks up a present, shakes it a little, peers at the tag with the name scratched out three or four times, twirls around and pretends to give it to one person, before twirling around in the other direction to hand it to the rightful recipient.  This drags out the present-opening ritual a little longer and gives everyone time to properly exclaim over each gift.

Everyone loved their gifts, even silly ones like the bison jerky I gave James.  Joe got a very smart looking black thermal shirt from Marie and Joe, which everyone admired immensely.  I offered to buy one for James as well.  “No thanks,” he said, “I just want books.”  He immediately went online to cash in his Amazon cards and start shopping for the stack of books he wanted to read. 

Recently, a friend had remarked, only partly in jest, that it almost doesn’t matter what you give someone as long as it is beautifully wrapped, and gift wrapping can certainly rise to the level of an art.  But I don’t think it really matters how a present is wrapped, as long as it is given in love.  And I am super excited about my new Ninja Cooker, even though it was wrapped in Happy Birthday paper.

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Desmond Tutu

Did you wrap all your Christmas presents? What other unusual traditions do you observe?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

About the Author

Kathleen Caron

I'm good at finding stuff, and I love to share all my discoveries. I write about the intersection between faith, family, fellowship and food.

  • La McCoy


    • Kathleen Caron

      Thanks Miss Laura!

  • Karen Childress

    We recycle paper, bags, and ribbon, too! I am notorious for not writing names on the packages (I usually have some kind of secret code) and then forgetting what belongs to who. At least one package each year gets opened by the wrong person and I have to exclaim, “Oh, no, that’s not yours! That belongs to (fill in the blank). Then everyone gets to laugh at my senility.

    • Kathleen Caron

      Karen, I think it’s funny that you do that too, maybe it is an INTJ thing? I wonder if Anastacia Maness and Audrey Chin will weigh in here and tell us they recycle gift bags and forget to put the names on the bags.

  • Shelley DuPont

    Years ago (many), I remember some of the older women saying, “Save the wrapping” or “Don’t throw the ribbons away!” As young people, we thought it was hilarious. Now, I do the same. I have a tendency to wrap things and then get the names on the wrong presents. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas.

    • Kathleen Caron

      It was such a great Christmas, completely against my expectation, because it was very low key and just about family. I didn’t have time to get all stressed out about what I was supposed to do and failing at. I love my family.

  • Anne Peterson

    Great post.

    One thing we used to do is wrap presents in unlikely containers. I mean come on. If it’s dressed as a CD and shakes as a CD, it probably is a duck. So, I used to wrap them in oatmeal containers. In egg cartons, whatever.

    One time I came up with a brilliant plan. Nathan wanted a CD shaped item. It was probably a game of some sort. Being someone with a supply of frames and mats I placed the item in a frame. When he opened the gift it looked like his mom had written him a poem. How fun to watch his face as he attempted to look happy. Then to see his eyes get big when he realized his mom wasn’t that dumb. There was his desired gift.

    That time, I got him!

    Another thing we’ve done is provide clues to a gift. Just to prolong anticipation. When Jude and Charlie received a puppet theatre from my generous brother, I made rhymed clues which took them all over the house. One of the clues was in the dryer with a couple of towels and it said in essence “No it’s not in here.” And it sent them to the next place. They had a riot and it gave us time when they were downstairs to put the theatre in the living room. What fun that was.

    • Kathleen Caron

      Now, those would be some gifts to receive, can I spend Christmas at your house next year? Just once, I would like to give someone a tiny gift and wrap it in a refrigerator box. But then again, it’s hard to do stuff like that when you wait until 10 PM Christmas eve.

      • Anne Peterson

        I think a more realistic choice might be a smaller box. Say maybe a stove box, instead of a refrigerator box? Besides, do you have enough used paper?? :)

        • Kathleen Caron

          Sure I have enough paper, it just wouldn’t be Christmas paper! Maybe a little Happy Birthday, a little Happy Easter, a little Congratulations Graduate….

  • Janelle

    OK, I officially love the Caron family.

    • Kathleen Caron

      I already officially loved the Ross family, and muskrat hunting on Christmas Eve increased my love. Wasn’t it just a great Christmas?

  • kathunsworth

    Beautiful and touching, your christmas must have been filled with warm hugs and lots of laughter I can tell by this gorgeous story.

    • Kathleen Caron

      It was a beautiful couple of days with my family. I will always treasure the memories. I hope you had a good Christmas too Kath, and….HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!