Gift wrapping

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Gifts wrapped in the traditional Japanese wrapping called Furoshiki.

Gift wrapping is the act of enclosing a gift in some sort of material. Wrapping paper is a kind of paper designed for gift wrapping. An alternative to gift wrapping is using a gift box or bag. A wrapped or boxed gift may be held closed with ribbon and topped with a decorative bow (an ornamental knot made of ribbon).


Hemp wrapping paper, China, circa 100 BC.

The use of wrapping paper is first documented in ancient China, where paper was invented in 2nd century BC.[1] In the Southern Song dynasty, monetary gifts were wrapped with paper, forming an envelope known as a chih pao. The wrapped gifts were distributed by the Chinese court to government officials. [2] In the Chinese text Thien Kung Khai Wu, Sung Ying-Hsing states that the coarsest wrapping paper is manufactured with rice straws and bamboo fiber.[3]

Although the Hall brothers Rollie and Joyce Hall, founders of Hallmark Cards, did not invent gift wrapping, their innovations led to the development of modern gift wrapping. They helped to popularize the idea of decorative gift wrapping in the 20th century, and according to Joyce Hall, "the decorative gift-wrapping business was born the day Rollie placed those French envelope linings on top of that showcase."[4]


Gift wrapping has been shown to positively influence the recipient who are more likely to rate their gifts positively if they had traditional gift wrapping.[5]

By culture[edit]

Gift wrapped presents beneath the Christmas tree

Western cultures[edit]

In Western culture, gifts are often wrapped in wrapping paper and accompanied by a gift note which may note the occasion, the receiver's name and the giver's name.

Modern patterned wrapping paper was introduced to the American market by the Hall Brothers in 1917. The Kansas City stationery store had run out of traditional white, red, and green monocolor tissue papers, and started selling colorful envelope liners from France. Proving popular, the company promoted the new designs in the subsequent decades, adding ribbons in the 1930s, and Hallmark remains one of the largest American producers of gift wrap.[6]


In the United States, an additional five million tons of waste are generated over the Christmas gift-giving period; four million tons of this is wrapping paper and shopping bags.[7] Some people attempt to avoid this by unwrapping gifts with care to hopefully allow the paper to be reused, while others use decorated cloth gift sacks that can be easily reused many times; both of these concepts are part of the green gifting trend that encourages recycling. Additionally, some people use old newspapers instead of wrapping paper. [8]

Asian cultures[edit]

In Chinese culture, red wrapping denotes luck because it is such a vibrant and strong color. It is seen as a symbol of happiness and good health.

In Japanese culture, wrapping paper and boxes are common. However, the traditional cloth wrapping called furoshiki is increasing in popularity, particularly as an ecologically friendly alternative to wrapping paper.[9]

In Korean culture, bojagi are sometimes used for gift wrapping. A yedanbo is a ceremonial gift bojagi used to wrap wedding gifts from the bride's family to the members of the groom's.[10]


  1. ^ Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin (1985). Paper and Printing. Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, Chemistry and Chemical Technology. 5 part 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780521086905. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  2. ^ Tsien 1985, p. 122
  3. ^ Tsien 1985, p. 123
  4. ^ Patrick Regan (15 December 2009). Hallmark: A Century of Giving. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7407-9240-3.
  5. ^ Feinn, Lily. "Why Do We Wrap Gifts? A Brief History Of Wrapping Paper". Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  6. ^ "The History Of Gift Wrap"
  7. ^ "Waste Facts and Figures".
  8. ^ Weise, Elizabeth. "Bows, glitter, ribbon are not recyclable. Here's how to recycle your Christmas wrapping paper". USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Networks, LLC. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  9. ^ Minister Koike created the "Mottainai Furoshiki" as a symbol of Japanese culture to reduce wastes, Ministry of the Environment
  10. ^ About Korea - Bojagi,

External links[edit]

Media related to Gift-wrapping at Wikimedia Commons