Watch: Professional gift wrapper shares top tips
A professional gift wrapper has shared her top tips for handing over the perfect-looking pressie this Christmas, with unexpected tricks including using an air fryer.
Rachael Wood, 33, first trained professionally to wrap presents while she studied visual merchandising at college.
It was only when she spent a whole day wrapping a client's entire Christmas haul two years ago to help them save time before a trip, that she saw how useful it was and started doing it as a job.
Wood, from Birmingham, now wraps hundreds of presents – aiming to do it as sustainably and cost-effectively as possible. During the festive period, she charges between £6 and £9.50 a gift and provides door-to-door service.
As Wood wraps hundreds of gifts (including a car this year), she relies on a few tricks to make sure her clients are happy, which you can try at home too.
Her top tips include using a hairdryer to remove stickers from bags and boxes, so you can reuse them, and drying citrus fruits in the air fryer to create natural embellishments.
"My favourite thing about wrapping is seeing the joy that people get, and they say their gifts look amazing and beautiful," she says.
"I make sure I know exactly what the recipient would like to personalise their package."
Wood, who calls her business Polywood Studios (and when she's not wrapping at Christmas she's making props for weddings and theatres, or even floats for the Commonwealth Games), learnt a lot from one particularly memorable job.
In November 2019, she wrapped two entire hotels in Solihull Birmingham in giant 2m by 2m bows.
"It was certainly a challenge," Wood recalls.
"Everyone had to help, and we were up on ladders to perfect the bow."
She believes that small details really do count, and glams up her gifts by using beautiful accessories like feathers, bows and dried flowers.
"I’m really pedantic – the patterns on the paper have to line up perfectly," Wood explains.
"I’m an absolute perfectionist."
She has also urged everyone to hold on to their cardboard delivery boxes to use for gifts.
“I love wrapping unusual gifts and I try to conceal the identity of the present for a surprise," adds Wood.
"For example, if it’s a book, I will put it in a box so it’s not so obvious."
It takes Wood around 10 minutes to wrap each present.
With a lot of paper needed for her rather unique line of work, she is environmentally-conscious and makes sure to recycle and reuse materials as much as possible, also often using mason jars so recipients can find another use for them.
Plus, she uses 'fushoriki’, traditional Japanese wrapping that involves packing presents in fabric that can be used again. Wood swears by 'packing paper', which is bulk paper that is usually thrown away after deliveries, reusing it and sprucing it up with vibrant decorations.
The crafty expert also dries out old bouquets to use the flowers as decorations.
"You don’t have to break the bank to make your presents look expensive – you can wash and reuse old ribbon," Wood points out.
But while she's a pro-packer now, she's also had to start somewhere, and admits to having made a number of errors in the past.
"Oh, I’ve made so many mistakes and had so many disasters in the past," she laughs.
"I’m forever ripping paper but luckily, I’ve become pretty good at repairing it.
"Once I wrapped something up and then forget who it’s for so I had to open it up to see who it was for and wrapped it back up again."
Refer to her full list of hacks when you start tackling your presents this Christmas...
Wood's top tips for gift wrapping
Dry citrus slices on low in the air fryer or oven.
Don’t throw away old Christmas cards – reuse them to stick on packing paper for gorgeous gift wrap
Use Christmassy pot pourri and stick onto gifts with a glue gun – it looks and smells amazing. Cinnamon sticks also work well.
Instead of buying gift tags, buy a lovely pen or set of ink stamps and put the name directly on the gift.
Wrap small objects in seeded paper which can be planted in the garden after.
If you’ve got a bit of patterned wrapping paper left but not enough for a whole gift, wrap your gift in plain paper (scrunched packing paper works well) then use the patterned paper like a band around the middle – waste not, want not.
Blast a hairdryer on an old label to remove it and re-use a box.
Wash and straighten out old ribbon with hair straighteners.
Hang old bouquets upside down to dry out and use the dried flowers for embellishment.
Additional reporting SWNS.