After 20 years in the business, I’m now finding myself travelling the globe sharing my knowledge and decided it was time to write my latest post ‘International Gift Wrapping ideas to suit all cultures’. My in laws live in Japan, my second home is in Singapore, plus I have Scottish ancestry and run courses in Glasgow and have American relatives, so I’m fascinated how to wrap presents differently to suit the different nationalities and cultures. With all of this and my courses in UK, Singapore and Australia, I’ve dedicated a section in my book ‘Giftwrapped’
I’m a firm believer that first impressions count and it’s what is on the inside that counts…we’ve all heard that saying ‘Packaging is everything’
There are obvious symbolic similarities between Chinese and Japanese theming but two beautiful and very different oriental giftwrapping styles can easily be created. The similarities come in the use of lavishly embellished silk and symbols such as fans and chopsticks, together with their respective and beautifully illustrative, calligraphic characters. I also love to wrap items creatively and constrasting colours like Yellow and Red
Chinese styled giftwrapping. The flag of China inspires the use of red and golden yellow, and stars are very much a symbol. A gift wrapped in shiny, red paper or red, silk fabric, tied with a golden yellow silk, sash ribbon needs only the addition of chop sticks slotted into the bow and a gift tag in the shape of a large, yellow star to achieve the required look. Add a carefully chosen and perfectly positioned Chinese symbol or two to your wrapping paper. With a little practice and painted in black, these symbols will instantly define your oriental theme.
Red stitched ribbon by Jane Means
Japanese styled giftwrapping. With its red circular sunburst design on a white background, the Japanese flag is a good source of inspiration. With a focus on the traditional colours of red, black and white, embellishments of chop sticks or tassels and the use of painted, red, Japanese symbols onto white paper with red, silk ribbon, a very traditional, Japanese style can be created.
In addition, the ancient art of Japanese paper folding is ideal to introduce to this theme. Using origami to add embellishments of simple fans or more complex flowers will, no doubt, make your gift look very pretty. Paper pleating is a Japanese technique, which looks rather stunning and will impress any recipient. It is an interesting fact that, historically, an odd number of pleats on the gift was used for a happy occasion, whilst an even number of pleats would have meant the gift was intended for a sad occasion.
Image courtesy of The French Tangerine
American styled giftwrapping. Well, it is hard to think of America and not think of stars and stripes and red, white and blue. Any combination of these colours is a great place to start. For example, red and white striped paper with a blue ribbon, blue paper with red and white striped ribbon (see my red and cream striped grosgrain ribbon) or a combination of contrasting blue paper with white paper, centrally separated by a red ribbon. To add American stars, position white star stickers on the blue paper.
Tartan by Scotland Shop
Scottish style giftwrapping. I have various tartan ribbon designs in my range and when they are used generously against navy blue, red, forest green or parcel wrapping paper and combined with embellishments of heather or thistles, the Scottish theme is clear. Add celtic symbols in the form of brooches, trinkets or hand painted emblems on homemade gift tags to enhance the theme. Having Scottish ancestry I also love to use Tartan and Tweeds in my Gift wrapping projects.
Indian styled giftwrapping. Famous for its vivid and spice-derived colours, India evokes thoughts of silk saris, bangles and opulent golden necklaces, lavishly embellished with precious stones. The peacock, with its iridescent feathers, is the national bird of India and vivid blue, a rich green green and intense purple, the colours of the peacock, combined with embellishments of gold coloured chains, pendants and varying textures of gold ribbon can form the strong basis of an Indian theme. Brightly coloured layers of tissue paper offer the image of saris whilst tying in several golden bangles with a brightly coloured chiffon scarf adds to the embellishment of your gift. Bright colours and opulence are the main features and the presence of a peackock feather, elephant charm or pendant or a handmade circular gift tag featuring the ‘Ashoka Shakra’, a 24-spoke blue wheel that appears on the Indian flag.
I am a huge fan of India. I have been several times and hope to run some future courses there.
Pick a country and try to capture the essence of its nature as you wrap your gift. Perhaps the gift originates from that country or is to be given to a person from that location or to someone who is going to travel there soon… Creating a personalised theme only serves to increase the meaning and quality of both the gift giving and receiving experience.
Jane Means is a Worldwide Gift Wrapping Consultant who works for Luxury Brands, Celebrities and Royalty
If you are stuck on what to give as a gift, check out Minding Manners who cover perfect Gift Giving on their brilliant etiquette workshops