featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

FASHION WITH TESSA - GUEST COLUMNIST AILEEN PABLO


Our fashion column today is taking a different slant with a guest columnist featuring ideas for wrapping all those gifts that will soon find their way under your tree. Aileen Pablo is a Filipina Event Management blogger from Open Colleges, one of the pioneers of Online education in Australia and one of the leading providers of event management courses. If you want to feature her on your blog, drop a line at aileen@oc.edu.au. -- AP

Gift Wrapping Ideas
Perfect for the Season and Your Budget

Not the Same-Old Same-Old
Gift-giving time again! Where did the year go? The solstice season is upon us and we celebrate in many different ways. One thing is for sure, we give each other gifts as a representation of a successful harvest. Of course, most of us live far from the farm nowadays, but the gift-giving tradition remains. That's a good thing!

Of course, you must wrap your gifts for presentation, but you don't have to do the same old thing that you do every year – green paper with red bows, or vice versa. Ho-hum instead of Ho-Ho-Ho? To some though, the wrapping is part of the “art” of gift-giving. Here are a few ways to spice up your Christmas wrapping and it won't cost you the price of a reindeer or a sleigh.

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String”
“These are a few of my favorite things!” You may remember that song from that classic movie “The Sound of Music” about the singing Von Trapp family and their escape from Nazi Germany. Well, it doesn't have to be brown paper; it could be white meat-wrapping paper. These papers lack color as an artist's empty canvas. You create the theme, choose colors to spark them up, and the type of ribbon or ribbon substitute. There are many ways to liven up the empty “canvas.”

Slice an apple or a pear in half. Dab the cut side into an ink pad of whatever color and proceed to stamp the plain paper in a pattern. A space with no paint will probably happen in the middle of the fruit where the seed pod is located. Hold a fallen tree leaf against the package and lightly spray around it with an aerosol paint (red or green?) for a silhouette image. If the present isn't too large, you could wrap it with brightly covered rubber bands, and even make a rubber band bow. Rolls of brown or white paper can be had very cheaply at arts and crafts shops.

Candy Coating for Wrapping Small Gifts
If you’re going to be presenting a small gift such as earrings or another piece of jewelry that will come in a small box, you might consider a candy-coating. This recipe is easy; you pick the flavor and the color, and there is usually stuff left over for your sweet-tooth. And those sweet cravings do tend to get robust this time of year.

This easy recipe doesn't demand candy thermometers or burning sugar or other fancy stuff. This hard candy is easily concocted in the microwave. This is a great way to create gift wrap with uncommon flavors and colors limited only by your imagination and what you have on hand.

Ingredients:
      1/2 cup sugar
      1/4 cup light corn syrup
      Food coloring (optional imagination)
      Powdered sugar (optional)
      1/4 tsp. extract or flavoring oil (vanilla extract, cinnamon, berry flavors, etc.)

Directions:
      Place the small gift box (airtight or sealed with tape) on a piece of wax paper or other smooth surface. If you like, dust the box with a little powdered sugar to keep the candy from adhering too tightly to the actual box.
      Mix the sugar and corn syrup in a microwave-safe container. Cover the container with plastic wrap and microwave it for about one minute.
      Remove the plastic. Careful! There may be hot steam. Stir and cover again with a new piece of plastic wrap. Again, microwave for about a minute.
      Remove plastic wrap and add flavoring and coloring. Stir till blended. If the candy starts to set too quickly, simply heat it up again.
      Pour the mixture smoothly over the small gift box. The bottom of the box won't be covered.
      Once the candy has set, you can carefully cut off superfluous or ragged edges around the bottom with a sharp knife, or gingerly (flavor idea?) bend them off with your fingers.
      If you like, wrap a small ribbon around the coated box. Choose a pleasing color to complement the hue you mixed up for the candy wrapping.
      This works best on small boxes. If the box is large, you may have to double the recipe or coat it in stages.

Much of the fun will be watching how the lucky recipient gets to the actual gift. He or she will probably end up striking it gently with a flatware knife handle or something similar. You can dust the candy-coat with a little powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to other surfaces. Voila! You have wrapped a present in a most uncommon, but very inexpensive, way. And it's very eco-friendly – you can eat the wrapping! This recipe is also good for lollipop molds. Just slightly oil the molds before pouring in the liquid candy.

Hodgepodge of Ho! Ho! Ho! Wrapping Ideas
      Make the present part of the wrapping. If you're going to give someone a boxed shirt, use a complementary tie as the ribbon.
      Don't throw out the colorful Sunday comics. They make excellent wrapping paper, especially for kids. Plain black and white newspapers can make elegant wrapping paper with a black, white, or grey bow. Or try deep green or deep red ribbon.
      Bandannas or handkerchiefs make excellent wrapping for smaller gifts. You could be extra clever and fasten the cloth with small silver or gold safety pins.
      Heavy aluminum foil can become striking wrapping paper when coupled with a colorful bow.
      Certain brands of potato chips have mylar-like paper on the insides of the bag. Wash it, air dry, and use it for wrapping.
      Use the pant legs off an old pair of slacks to wrap wine or liquor bottles. If you're clever enough, you can make it so a pocket is on the outside in which you could stuff a corkscrew, swizzle sticks, coasters, or other beverage knick-knacks.
      Write the name of the receiver with white glue on wrapping paper and then sprinkle small beads or even confectioners sprinkles onto the glue. Let dry, brush away the excess.
      Candy canes, jaw breakers, and other forms of candy can replace traditional ribbon bows. Use thin wire to gather them and hold them together, then fasten them to the package.
      Gather scraps of wrapping paper and tape them together to form a large sheet to use for wrapping. Make it so the tape is on the inside. This creates a hodgepodge of colors and patterns, and that's the charm.

The Most Fun, The Most Elegant, The Most Personal
Following a few of these ideas will probably make your gifts stand out among the others for the three reasons above, either as they're under your Christmas tree or just handed over. And this despite the materials costing next to nothing. Often, just by looking around, you can find many materials that can be used for gift wrapping. And not just for Christmas. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other appropriate times, along with your imagination, will give you the opportunity to show off the true art of gift-giving.


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