Notes from the Field: Wrap Star

December 17, 2012

By Cheryl Katz

One of my first summer jobs was as a clerk behind the cash register of Brentano’s, a large bookstore in Boston’s Back Bay. Though not the most exciting of summer stints, I did become proficient at gift-wrapping. After I got the hang of it, I looked forward to the times when customers said the book they had chosen was a gift and that they’d like it wrapped. Not only did it break up the monotony of standing behind the counter and ringing in sales, I liked arranging the paper around the book, making sure that the folded ends lined up equally on either side. I prided myself on how little scotch tape I used and on how adept I became at tying a bow. With few exceptions–coffee table sized books proved problematic–my packages were neat as a pin, unusual for someone not very precise or patient. My only complaint was that the bookstore had only one type of paper and ribbon to offer the customer. When I mentioned this fact to the store manager, he just laughed.

Every year at around this time, while I’m wrapping my holiday gifts, I think of that Brentano summer. Devoting an entire evening to wrapping, I now have the luxury of loads of papers and ribbons from which to choose and spend an inordinate amount of time deciding on what’s the most appropriate for each gift and its recipient. The line at the check out would have been out the door.

A small sampling of the ribbons available at Hyman Hendler’s in New York. The store which carries thousands of ribbons has been in business for over a century. Photo by Jeffrey Katz

The ribbons match the papers, the papers match each other. They all look great together. Photo courtesy of Country Living

Whimsical paper from Rifle Paper Co. Photo courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

As Julie Andrews would say, “Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things.†Photo courtesy of Inspire Bohemia