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At Home: When giving gifts, it's what's on the outside that counts

Marni Jameson: Up your wow factor this Christmas with beautiful gift wrap.
BY MARNI JAMESON Published: December 3, 2012

In my constant endeavor to live more graciously, haste is my undoing. I am often whirling through life on extended credit from the time bank, and it shows — especially in my gift wrapping.

During the holidays — when available time shrinks and gifts multiply — this failing is particularly obvious.

I start well. I wrap presents as I buy them in paper and ribbon that coordinate with my tree's colors — lately teal and bronze. I take my time. I make a nice tag, signed with a color-coordinated pen in my best penmanship. I top it off with a glittery angel or sparkly ornament.

However, as the season wears on, my wrap jobs degenerate. They go from looking respectable, to passable, to the dog did it. Soon I'm dashing (at times through the snow) to an all-night superstore for cheap snowman paper and a bag of sticky bows. When those supplies dwindle, and I'm out of paper, ribbon, tape or all three, I improvise.

It is the North Pole opposite of gracious.

“The presentation is what speaks to people,” Nicholas Kniel, owner of Nicholas Kniel Fine Ribbons & Embellishments, of Atlanta, is telling me over the phone when I call to get a gift wrap pep talk.

“The gift wrap is what everyone notices first. It should get as much thought as the gift. But it's often the last thing people think about,” said Kniel, who opened his uber-chic gift wrap store in 2000 after studying fashion design.

Besides stocking unusual ribbons, feathers, buttons, embellishments and other wrapping materials, his store has evolved to offer custom gift-wrapping, and gift-wrapping classes. For those who can't make class, here are some ways Kniel says we can upgrade our presentations:

•Get your stuff together. Have a dedicated wrapping box or tray to keep all supplies together, “so when you go to wrap, you don't go to four rooms,” Kniel said.

•Choose a signature color scheme. Pick a gift-wrap palette that works year round, not just during the holidays. Pick two colors you like that go with your home decor, say ivory and crimson, or teal and black. Then add a metallic. Stock up on solid-colored paper and ribbon in all those colors, and you'll be set for Christmas, birthdays or weddings.

•Coordinate your wrapping to go with your tree. And coordinate your tree to go in your home. Don't feel obliged to use red and green, especially if your home is purple and orange, said Kniel. Use orange wrapping with purple bows.

•Make your own gift tags. Use the scrap ends of gift wrap. Affix the gift wrap to plain card stock using spray adhesive. Make a hole with a tag punch, thread ribbon through and you have a coordinating tag that looks chic. Hint: Do your tags before you need them, so they're handy when you're wrapping in the heat of moment.

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