Gift Bags and Tissue are the New Gift Wrap

NPR’s Youth Radio features a spot called “What is the New What” –observations on those societal evolutions in our day-to-day lives that become generational signposts. Recent Youth Radio commentators have observed Gas Prices are the New Curfew, Thai is the New Latin Flavor and one that will make any Youth Radio’s parent cringe — Sex without Condoms is the New Engagement Ring. (So much for Tiffany’s classic solitaire in a platinum four prong setting.) Alas, since Youth Radio is the name of the game, it seems they want to hear from the youth, not those youth at heart. Loath to waste a perfectly good piece of writing, I post my observation below.

Gift bags and tissue paper are the new gift wrap and ribbon. Back in the day, gift wrap paper came in rolls or in flat packages lined up on racks like cards in a solitaire game with plaids, flowers, stripes and checks for suits. There was satin ribbon for tying and ribbed ribbon for curling. The spools sat stacked in neat rows, colorful as a 96-count box of Crayolas. For those with two thumbs and/or no time there were ready-made bows round and colorful as faerie pompoms.

Before gift bags and tissue paper became the new gift wrap and ribbon, wrapping presents was an art form. It allowed time to envision the recipient of our gift opening it with delight. There was the partnership between parent and child at that crucial moment when the ribbons had to be tied and Mom needed the nearest child’s index finger to “hold right there” until the knot that would hold the gorgeous present together could be tied.

Then there was the moment when the recipient marveled over the wrapped present, prolonging for a moment the anticipation of opening it. Gift openers fell into one of two camps: the tearer-intos (usually children) and the gently-slit-and-folders (mostly their elders). Beautiful, but ransacked, paper would be stuffed into the trash can along with the ribbons, their curls now a bit awry and spent. The carefully slitted paper would be folded back along its creases and saved for wrapping smaller presents, a book perhaps or the occasional gift of jewelry.

But now that gift bags and tissue are the new wrapping paper and ribbons all of that is disappearing. Little creative energy is spent opening a glossy bag, laying some preselected matching tissue in it, plopping in a gift and then filling the cavity with a few more sheets before fluffing the edges into some semblance of festivty.

And there goes the anticipation for the giftee. No easing tight ribbons off the corners of a gift box or cutting into them to release their hold. No more diversity between the puller-offers and the slit-and-folders, either. Were all just reacher-intos now, our gift bags reusable and politically correct. If we don’t reuse the tissue we crush it tennis ball size so as not to take up too much room in a landfill.

No, a simple delight is missing now that gift bags and tissue are the new gift wrap and ribbons. Good thing Rodgers and Hammerstein are not writing My Favorite Things today. “Mailing envelope and tape strips” just doesn’t have the same lilt as “brown paper packages tied up with string.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “Gift Bags and Tissue are the New Gift Wrap

  1. Liz Morley

    One positive thing about gift bags, they can be recycled for another gift to someone else. We have built up quite a collection that Sarah can look through for gifts for her friends.

    I have my collection of papers, curling ribbons and ribbon shredders, so I make the best of both worlds. I wrap a present, tie it with ribbon and then add bows made of different colors of curled ribbon…and then stick it in the tissued gift bag.

    Will I be buying more wrapping paper in the future, probably not until I run out of gift bags. With no more kids in public school, Sally Foster is no longer welcome in my house! Can’t say that I will miss her.

  2. Cindy L

    Great post, Debra!
    Gift wrap — real gift wrap — seems to have gone the way of the fountain pen and the handwritten thank-you note. (Or hand-written anything.) I’m guilty of this, too. I think we’re all so busy these days that we’re lucky if we even remember to buy gifts for birthdays and special occasions — let alone find time to wrap them nicely. Gift bags are the lazy/easy way out… My husband is a wonderfully creative gift-wrapper though. He’s an architect, so his wrapped gifts (when he has time) are often “constructions” and a delight to the receiver!

  3. Debra

    Oh boy Sally Foster! As soon as the last kid on the block leaves grammar school Sally Foster will be a thing of the past here, too. Once we use up the paper!
    I like your ‘best of both worlds’ idea. I want a present from you!

  4. Priyanka

    Just came across your article, it is very interesting and funny!
    About the gift bag, well we can still be creative with it like with tissue adding some thermocol balls, and some of your ribbons!!

Comments are closed.