How to be a gangsta wrapper for Christmas

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What some people call “the most wonderful time of the year” can also be the most exhausting. With all the extra events, shopping, cleaning, cooking, traveling, hosting and more, it can make us want to crawl into the nearest stocking and take a long winter’s nap.

When you need a brief escape from the holiday hustle and bustle, I have a strategy that works. It’ll involve some effort, but trust me, it’ll give you some much-needed time and space to hear yourself think. All you have to do is become a wrapper.

I started wrapping in my teens. What began as a favor for my mom became an annual tradition. She said she wanted me to do it because I was so good at it. But now that I’m a mom, I know the quickest way to get a kid to take over a chore is to convince them that no one does it better. Well played, Mom.

But I’m glad I became a wrapper because it gives me fringe benefits that come in handy during the busiest time of the year.

Benefit No. 1: People have to leave you alone. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love people. But even the jolliest people-person can get overwhelmed during the holidays. When you wrap, you get the quiet time you’ve been craving. I gather gifts and put them on the kitchen table, along with supplies like paper, scissors, tape, ribbons, and bows. Then I cue up a favorite movie on the small kitchen television and get to work. But first, I make this announcement to all other humans in the house: “Listen up, people. I will be wrapping gifts for the next few hours, so nobody can come in here without my permission. If you walk in here and see a gift, I’m taking it back.”

Benefit No. 2: Repetitive motion soothes the busy brain.

When we’re a little fried from all the fa-la-la-la-la, we need a “Zen” activity – some simple work that lets our brain coast for a while. I’ve learned to love the soothing slice of scissors through pretty paper, a crisp crease along a box edge, and a fluffy bow tied with tulle. I don’t have to think about it. I just do it, falling into an easy rhythm and focusing on one box at a time.

The movie plays as I work, and I stop occasionally for a snack and a sip of cocoa or tea. I savor the satisfaction of seeing the stack of wrapped packages grow taller over time. “All is calm. All is bright,” just like the song says.

Benefit No. 3: Celebrate the power to delegate.

When I wrap, I can’t leave the room with unwrapped gifts where anyone can see them. So I keep going until the mission is complete or I run out of boxes or tape. If that means someone else has to pitch in to do other things that need doing, so be it.

Me: “Hey, I need you to change that load of clothes and hang up the stuff in the dryer.”

Teenager: “But I’m busy playing this app on my phone and scrolling social media.”

Me: “Oh yeah? Well, I’m busy wrapping your gifts, so if you want to unwrap these presents one day, I suggest you deal with the laundry while I create the magic of Christmas around here!”

If you say it with the correct amount of self-righteous indignation, a kid or spouse will dutifully handle the laundry, walk the dog, or run the errands you don’t have time to do. Why? Because you’re a wrapper on a mission! You cannot be disturbed.

But I should warn you about the side effects of becoming a wrapper. You may find yourself admiring sturdy boxes and saving them year-round. You’ll hoard Scotch tape and buy new scissors before December. And you’ll become a total snob about the quality of holiday wrap, insisting on the proper paper weight that is stamped with cutting lines on the back. (Gangster wrappers don’t mess around with sub-par supplies.)

But the side effects are worth it. With the power to delegate and a few hours to yourself, it’s easier to remember what’s so lovely about the most wonderful time of the year. Now that’s a wrap.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at Her book is available on Amazon. 

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