Home Touch by Mary G. Pepitone

Wrap It Up

Packages tied up with strings may be one of your favorite things this holiday season. So, to wrap in a snap at home, creating and stocking a gift-wrapping station may be a present's piece de resistance.

A beautifully wrapped gift is almost like giving two gifts in one, says Hallmark Cards Inc. Master Designer Bet David. Founded in 1910, Hallmark is a family-owned company based in Kansas City, Missouri, and is the oldest and largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the United States. The company also manufactures party and seasonal goods, such as gift-wrap collections of papers, bows, tags and bags.

"To be thoughtful in the way you wrap a gift sends a message to the recipient and is also a special way to extend the gift's surprise," David says. "It's all about the desire to present your gift with a visual experience."

If you find yourself getting wrapped up while searching your home for paper and supplies to cover your gifts in a clever way, setting up a gift-wrapping station may be the solution, says Erin Hardy, California Closets' national manager of design, based in Boston. Wrapping gifts at the kitchen table isn't always the best option, so having a clean and organized space for a gift-wrapping station will help you tie up any loose ends easily.

"A gift-wrapping station is a practical use of space -- it displays paper, ribbons and bows so you can see what you have, and creates a clean, designated surface that stays clear for when you need it," Hardy says. "From a small nook off of the kitchen to an entire guest room ... we frequently design gift-wrapping stations as multifunctional spaces in home offices, laundry or craft rooms."

Just as good things can come in small packages, gift-wrapping stations don't need to be overwhelming in size. A small, custom-made wrapping station designed by California Closets can start around $1,200, Hardy says.

Countertops and Cabinetry

While most tables are 30 inches tall, the optimal height for a gift-wrapping countertop is 36 inches, which is the standard height in kitchens. Near the counter/desktop can be drawers and shelving units that house ribbon and other spooled items, which keeps loose ends from tangling and prevents disarray.

"Disorganization can kill creativity," David says. "When you're wrapping gifts, you want all your papers, scissors, tape and bows at your fingertips. Otherwise, what is meant to be a joy becomes a chore."

The Vertical Challenge

A magnetic wall system or peg/fabric board hung on the wall above the counter can be a decorative and functional addition to a gift-wrapping station.

David says two pairs of scissors -- one for fabric and one for paper -- are essential for any gift-wrapping station. "I also have a weighted tape dispenser outfitted with double-stick tape," she says. "That way you can secure the wrapping without any obvious tape seams."

Cubbies and containers can be affixed to a wall mounting system, which can house everything from writing utensils to tags. Specialized wrapping-paper rails use dowels, onto which rolls can be mounted above the countertop, to prevent the wrappings from becoming wrinkled, crimped and damaged due to improper storage.

Re-wrap

While gifts may get a wrapping workout during the holidays, that doesn't mean the treasure trimmings aren't used year-round, says Hannah Milman, contributing editor for Martha Stewart Living in New York City.

"Listen to your grandmother, who said, 'Save the paper!' when you're unwrapping something truly beautiful," Milman says. "Instead of just throwing wrappings and ribbons away, you can iron them out and give them a new life on a package you decorate."

Milman says the best packaging places live at home, where you keep your tools and tape. "A gift-wrapping station doesn't need to be fancy," she says. "It just needs to work." An old television armoire or hutch can be converted into a gift-wrapping station, but if space is at a premium, plastic totes for roll wrappings and ribbons can be stored in a craft closet.

Having gift-giving goodies on hand doesn't mean just investing in seasonal baubles and bows, either. "Kraft paper rolls and twine or raffia can be some of the best investments when it comes to wrappings," Milman says. "A child's drawing on a simply wrapped package, with an addition of a sprig of ivy or evergreen, can transform an ordinary gift into an extraordinary one."

Packaging Prospects

-- Giftology videos: ideas.hallmark.com/gift-wrapping-ideas/ 

-- Go to CaliforniaClosets.com, or call 1-888-336-9707, and request a free closet consultation.