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Not Too ‘Gifted’ at Wrapping Presents? Enter the Professionals

Image: A gift wrapper works for proceeds going to  the Boys and Girls Club in Braintree, Massachusetts, Dec. 21.

It's not always easy. Dina Rudick / Boston Globe via Getty Images

As children around the holidays, some of us may recall helping our parents with gift wrapping, and feeling confident that one day, when we were adults, we too would be able to crease a corner and tape an edge.

Then we grew up and it turns out that some of us really suck at wrapping gifts — like, we've made nearly zero progress since we were kids.

Whether it's impatience, nervousness, or just plain laziness, we cannot make our way around a box with a pair of scissors and scotch tape without embarrassing ourselves.

True Stories of Failed Gift Wrappers

"Whenever I gift wrap [a present] myself, it looks like I crumpled up the wrapping paper into a ball, unfolded it, and then smashed it over the gift," said Rafael Lena, a creative director at FCB Health.

Lauren Saccone, a freelance writer and social media consultant, can relate all too well, saying: "Whenever I attempt to wrap a present, it looks like a hyperactive five-year-old went rogue with some tape and scissors, and really, really hated whatever they were wrapping."

Daisy Ell, a blogger and mother of two, says that whenever she's hand-wrapped gifts for relatives they'll look to her kids and thank them for their efforts.

"Plus, I hate sitting down and [gift wrapping] for hours," said Ell. "I lose the scissors and tape about 500 times in the process and drink way too much Bailey's."

Retailers to the Rescue, However Lamely

Brick-and-mortar and online retailers are all eager to come to the rescue of the woefully failed gift wrappers among us — for an extra fee, of course. And in many cases, we're more than happy to pay, even if what we're paying for isn't all that great.

"When it comes to getting gift wrapping services from retailers these days, except for a few stores, 'lame' is a pretty accurate description," said Brent Shelton, online shopping expert at FatWallet. "The majority of major stores that still offer this service have cut back to just offering a free 'gift' box, or as an additional charge online, [and they're] often printed cardboard boxes."

Cat's Got Your Bag

Amazon, which typically charges between $3.49 and $5.99 for its gift services, recently switched from traditional gift wrapping paper to gift bags in an effort to be more eco-friendly. These gift bags or more like gift sacs, and some people have taken to Instagram to show just how silly they may appear.

Others have left the sacs to their cats, giving them their own very special present.

Gift Wrap Geniuses

There are also those retailers that seem to consider gift wrapping an art, and take special pride in their services. These retailers may have gift wrapping sections designated in their stores around the holidays.

“A few stores that do an exceptional job include Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma," said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot.

Thomas Elsemiller, a hairstylist who prides his dexterity but doubts his wrapping skills, was particularly pleased with his recent experience at Macy's.

"I'm crafty, but when it comes to gifting for my new in-laws I need to make sure what's outside the box is as nice as what's inside the box," said Elsemiller. "Macy's charged $8.95 per box, and it was great. It was like going to the Apple Genius Bar."

Freebies, and Competitive Vibes

There are some retailers that offer free gift-wrapping around this time of year.

"You can find free gift wrapping at stores like Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, L’Occitane, Pottery Barn, and Sephora,” said Skirboll, adding that as more and more consumers show a need for gift wrapping services, retailers are becoming more competitive in their offerings.

"Stores are constantly trying to compete with each other, and with Amazon, for both sales and exceptional customer service," said Skirboll. "Complimentary gift wrapping is just one of those services they [can] offer."