The act of giving gifts to our loved ones is probably as old as love itself. The tradition of giving gifts can be traced back to many ancient cultures celebrating various holidays. For many, the best part of giving gifts is the expression of anticipation and curiosity the recipient displays as they wonder at the contents of the wrapping.
But have you ever wondered how the practice of gift wrapping started? When did humans in past generations begin to think that it would be beneficial to encapsulate an offering in a fancy casing?
● 100 AD – Gift wraps owes much of its history to the invention of paper in China. However, the Chinese kept the paper-making process a secret until the process was uncovered by the Egyptians in 800 AD. The paper-making process spread to England in 1085 where the first paper mill started.
● 1509 – England produced the first wallpaper, making it the first forerunner of gift wraps. However, they are used briefly because they cracked and tore easily when folded.
● 1745 – Plain brown wrapping paper, known as the “Shop-Paper” was used to wrap goods and gifts.
● 1804 – Christmas gifts were first advertised in America.
● 1823 – A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as “T’was the Night before Christmas” was first released and published. It showed St. Nicholas filling stockings hanging by the chimney with toys for children. However, it does not mention wrapped presents under the tree.
● 1837-1901 (Victorian Period) – Among the popular patterns used in Victorian wrapping papers were cherubs, birds, and flowers, which is similar to this era’s Christmas cards. Gifts were also ornamented with laces and ribbons. Decorated boxes, loose bags, and coronets with images of angels, holly boughs, and other seasonal decorations.
● 1857 – Toilet tissue was introduced to the world by Joseph Gayetty, which soon brought forth the invention of tissue paper. Tissue paper was used by Ebenezer Butterick in 1863 for his newly invented graded sewing patterns. Soon after, tissue paper was used for gift-wrapping.
● 1912 – With the popularity of moisture-proof cellophane, people began using to wrap gifts, either alone or in combination with regular paper.
● 1917 – Modern gift-wrap was invented by siblings Joyce Clyde Hall and Rollie Hall in their Kansas City, MO store. However, during the peak of the holiday season, the store ran out of solid-colored gift dressing and began using French envelope liners to substitute gift wrapping papers. Since it sold so well, they started to produce and print their own wrapping presents.
● 1930-40s – The Art Deco era influenced the style and design of wrapping papers. Snowflakes, ice skaters, Christmas trees, and candles are among the most popular patterns in this period.
● 1950s-60s – The patterns printed on wrapping papers became more realistic.
With the holiday season fast approaching, it is never too early to go early gift shopping and wrapping. Don’t settle for presenting your gifts to your loved ones in plain nondescript boxes. Though you can find various supplies of good quality cardboard in Toronto (whether by Hammond Paper, A Box Broker Inc., or other paperboard companies), wrapping them can tell the recipient that you were willing to take the extra step of making it look presentable.