If only they would make gift wrapping an Olympic sport, I’d have a chance to go for the gold. My training over the past 35 years has been wrapping hundreds and hundreds of customer packages.  And I’m really fast — but that’s mostly because we have wrapping down to a system. This service that is much appreciated by busy customers, and one that you should consider offering if you sell anything that is given as a present.

Here are ten tips to make your gift wrapping efficient and economical:

Have an good array of gift boxes on hand.  It will save you a lot of time if you don’t have to wrap lumpy, odd-shaped items (and many customers will just take a box, rather than waiting for wrapping). Label the bins or shelves of boxes with the box dimensions.

Gift bags now seem to be an acceptable alternative to wrapped packages — even at some weddings.  You may be able to buy closeouts or inexpensive bags that are actually less expensive than boxes. At the holidays we offer this option for small items such as ornaments.

To cushion items and avoid breakage, use sheets of heavier tissue to wrap the item inside the box or bag, or have a big bin of shredded tissue on hand. This material makes a mess on the floor after a busy day, but it works well.  We are able to buy both these items from a local distributor of packaging, janitorial and food service supplies that delivers.

Make sure your store name is on the package so the recipient can tell everyone where the gift they like so much is from.  We use a sticker on the outside of the box, and we also line the gift box with tissue that has our logo printed subtly white-on-white.

Offer at least two or three wraps for different occasions. You can buy an inexpensive 85’ cutter box roll if you don’t need a half ream, (which is 417 feet).  There are also jewelry rolls available that are only 7 1/2” wide.

Show customers their options at the time that they check out. We use a wall photo frame with mat openings for four 4 X 6 prints to show a sample of each wrap and the ribbon that comes with it.

If your wrapping is not near your checkout counter, make up a sheet of little slips that show that the item has been paid for, and indicate the choice of wrap.  We have staff indicate on our slip that price tags are removed, just to make sure that they have been.

Set up an special area for wrapping that is at a comfortable counter height, and has easy access to supplies such as tape and scissors. At home I wrap on the floor, like most people, and under those conditions I’m just as slow as the average amateur.

If possible, use heavy-duty roll dispensers that make it easy to tear the paper once you’ve measured the length that you need.  We use the type of cloth tape measures sold in fabric stores to cut the right length, and have a plastic bin for leftover small scraps of each style so that we don’t waste any paper.

There are many ways to do the ribbon on a package — in Europe, curling ribbon seems to be the norm, but I like ribbon and a bow.  Since our loop bows come flat, we “fluff” a dozen or so in advance and keep them in bins above the wrap counter.  They are self-adhesive, so it isn’t really necessary to tie the ribbon that goes under the bow. I cut the correct length and tape the ends under the spot where the bow will go so that it lies flat.

Adding a little gift item on the top of the package makes a really special presentation, and one that you might offer for expensive items.  Just for fun, take a look at this scene from Love, Actually in which Rowan Atkinson demonstrates a London department store’s luxury wrap for a customer trying to quickly buy a gift for his girlfriend without his wife seeing him.  It’s a real day-brightener for those of us who proudly call  ourselves “wrappers”.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder