Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Scotch Tape And Scissors: The Reasons For The Season, And Why You Should Go Find Them Right Now

Pressure Busting Tip #12
Gosh, I hate to throw St. Patsy under the Holiday Bus again, but darn it,
she is the perfect example for today's tip.  My mother had several nicknames in our home.  My father never, ever called her by her real name, which was Patricia or Pat.  When he met her, he called her Doll right away, referencing that song that goes, "Oh, you beautiful doll, you great big beautiful doll...."  Another name he called her which was not so complimentary, but gently chiding, was The Great Procrastinator.  My mother could put things off longer than anyone I knew. (We once hung paper shamrocks on our formerly live Christmas tree. Yes, for St. Patrick's Day.) Christmas was not her best season.  After hosting the family Christmas Eve open house, which usually ended in time for everyone to go to Midnight Mass, she would come home from church, finish cleaning up, and then she and my father (if he was home and/or could stay awake) would wrap all of our Christmas presents.  Later, as each of us got older, we helped.  We would sit back to back, and our mother would hand us each a box.  "That's for Patti!" she would snap.  "That one is Susan's!" she'd command.  And we'd sit there, handing tape and The Good Scissors (one pair) back and forth, lose the pens, be exhausted, and wrap and wrap and wrap.  Sometimes our own gifts if she was really getting tired.  On one memorable year, we ran out of Scotch tape after about three presents.  We used electrician's black tape for a bit, then found some old carpet tape, then no tape at all.  We were horrified.  We had to use curling ribbon and string to keep the packages wrapped.  I thought I would die. Christmas morning always, always had several On The Spot Regifts.  I remember one in particular.  I unwrapped a gorgeous mint green sweater with a band of baby pastels going across the front.  As soon as I lifted it out, my mother said, "No, that's Patti's.  Nance, give that to Patti."  My heart was broken.  I immediately gave it to my sister, but I was loathe to do it.  It's a source of personal pride that I never made that error with my kids.  Then again, I only had two.

It's easy to get flustered when you leave stuff to the last minute, and when you simply don't have your collective shit together.  Now that the boys are gone, I use part of their former room upstairs as Christmas Central.  (At the risk of sounding like Martha Perfect,) I set up a card table to wrap gifts on, have all the necessary supplies there like rolls of wrapping paper, tape, pens, tags, empty gift boxes, and tissue paper.  I pulled over a strong floor lamp so that the lighting is good.  Nearby, folded and ready, is a huge old tablecloth.  I find Pressure Busting Tip #12 a real relaxing and enjoyable and time-saving one. Establish and stock a place for wrapping gifts, then wrap as you go.  Easy, I know, when I'm retired.  But even if you can't wrap them right away, you can put the item in a gift box, write the recipient's name on the outside of the box, stash it under the table, and spread the old tablecloth over.  It will hang down and cover up the boxes until you have a minute to wrap a few.  Sometimes I get in a groove and wrap everything; sometimes I get bored and wrap one or two.  Sometimes Certain Cats make it impossible for me to wrap efficiently, and I have to just use gift bags.  (Which are, by the way, The Best Things Ever.  They are so easy to use, and come in such cute and clever designs. I'm a big fan.)  Another great thing about gift bags:  no tape required.


  1. My mother in law was the same way and it became one of my kids' favorite things about her gifts. ..they never knew if they were opening one for them or one for someone else! This will be our first Christmas without her and I know we will all miss it. Love this series, so nice to read you every day!

  2. I love this post, Nance! It shows us all that others' holidays are far from perfect and yet life goes on and we still love each other. :-) I'm sorry about the disappointment of not getting that beautiful sweater though. I hope your sister appreciated that particular gift because if she didn't that would have made that little error by your mom even harder.

    I use the guest room for wrapping, leaving the card table up and pulling out my box of tags, ribbon, tape, etc. I always try to remember to buy tape before the season. Truthfully though, not too many gifts get wrapped at my house because I'm a big fan of gift bags as well. There's not much that I give that can't go in a gift bag. ;-)


  3. Gift bags all the way. I have MANY MANY gift bags in many sizes, styles, and colors. Easy to use, pretty, and classy looking if you just use the right color and amount of tissue paper. The biggest plus is that we always save and re-use them since they don't get destroyed by having a gift in them. I haven't used regular wrapping paper in years, and can't remember the last time I bought Scotch tape. The only thing I buy is new tissue paper.

    I also grew up in a house with One Good Pair of Scissors. There were many crappy scissors around, but when push came to shove, you went and got the Good Scissors, and usually had to hunt for them because my mother hid them away. Let me just say how much that made me crazy. I now have at least two or more pairs of good scissors in the house at any given time. A long time ago, I nearly had a celebratory dinner when I found that good scissors were 1) available for purchase for not much money (Fiskars anyone?), and 2) I could buy as many as I wanted--and I bought like 5 pairs. It was one of those little satisfying moments in life...

  4. I don't have room for Christmas Central at my house. But fortunately my dad does, & since it's easier to pack unwrapped presents I always wait until we get to his house to wrap :)

    He actually has a couple of huge rolls of holiday gift wrap from a store that went out of business several years before my mother died (she used to clean the owner's house). This wrap must be 15 years old. And we can't seem to use it up! It's like the loaves & fishes of gift wrap!

  5. We have no place for such a thing, either, though it sounds lovely, and perhaps someday when our daughter has flown the nest, I will do a similar thing. Since wrapped gifts take up more room than unwrapped gifts, I have to wait until we have a tree at least to start wrapping. Ted hates wrapping gifts, so Maya wraps mine from him. Otherwise, I seem to end up wrapping them all. Shhh. I like wrapping gifts. Don't tell.

  6. Long ago I answered the siren call of gift bags and have never looked back.

    I do wrap gifts for children under 7 or so, as they would much prefer to rip open paper than rustle through tissue paper.

    Costco has fantastic, beautiful, three-dimensional gift bags that are fairly inexpensive for what you are getting and look great.

  7. Gina--I love the fact that you think to wrap gifts for the littles since they really enjoy ripping into them. You are one of those people who not only understands children, but has never forgotten what it was like to be one. Awesome!

    J@jj--My Christmas Central as a semi-permanent fixture is recent; I am only able to have it set up and waiting since the boys moved out. Previous to that, I merely kept all the supplies (except rolled wrap)in a long plastic container. I could drag it out, put up a card table, and wrap. Then I put it all away. And the boys will not allow any wrapped presents under the tree until Christmas Day. We used to store the wrapped presents in a couple of huge drums in the basement. Now I put them in a closet or in my room under a blanket on the floor. I figure, if they want to ruin their Christmas, it's their problem.
    Oh, and I'm more with Ted. I don't always enjoy it, but Rick does. He's very methodical and exacting. I just wrap.

    Bug--A couple of years ago, I decided to use up all the paper I was getting sick of. I wrapped everyone's presents in the paper that was about done. My brother went into my mom's house, up into the attic, and found practically antique paper. Stuff from when we still lived there! They used it for years. Now, if I am sick of some paper, this is the year I'm just going to toss it in the recycle bin. I'd like to think I can take that luxurious liberty.

    LaFF--Ha Ha Ha!! I hear you! I went on a scissors binge too. And I have a pair HANGING ON THE WALL IN MY KITCHEN SO THAT I CAN FIND THEM ANYTIME I NEED THEM. And--I inherited a beautiful, deadly sharp pair of Weiss sewing shears from my husband's grandmother. They make giftwrapping a delight.
    And as far as giftbags--how awesome is it when you can reuse the giftbag with the tag attached for the same person? Love that!

    Shirley--Truthfully, I don't remember if Patti liked the sweater or not. Or if I ever saw her wear it, now that I think of it. Oh well.

    I use some gift bags, but not too many. I have to confess that rolled Christmas wrap is one of my little weaknesses. I have no idea why, but I love buying it. And matching ribbons to it. Sigh. Life's little pleasures.

    Rose--What a nice thing to say! I love to know that you read me every day. Oh, yes; Christmas mornings at home were always fun and funny. I honestly think we girls opened more of my brother's underwear than he ever did. We all did a lot of laughing on Christmas. Make sure you do, too, to honor your MIL. She certainly made sure Christmas was joyful.


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