The History of Wrapping Paper

I look forward to giving people close to me presents all year. Part of the thrill of gift-giving is finding the perfect offering for the hard-to-shop-for family member or friend. Still, the part I look forward to most is enveloping all my offerings in a lively paper, pretty ribbons, and beautiful bows.  Of course, wrapping gifts isn’t restricted to the holiday season; I go all out for baby shower gifts, birthday presents, and wedding gifts too.

Gift wrapping is a tradition my family has always done, but I wondered how the practice got started this year.  So, I researched and found out that you can trace the first recorded history of wrapping gifts back to the 1300s. And it turns out, people didn’t do the earliest gift wrapping methods with paper at all.

Gift wrapping across history

The first documented arrangement of gift wrap was actually made of cloth. Those who practiced time-honored folk beliefs in Korea during what was known as the Three Kingdoms Period considered wrapped items to be a sign of good luck and protection. So giving someone a gift wrapped in fabric was a unique way to bestow good fortune and protection upon the recipient. Another early practice concerning gift-wrapping is the Japanese style of furoshiki or wrapping gifts in cloth material, which has been around since roughly the 1600s.

Even the wise men of bible notoriety shrouded the gifts they brought for baby Jesus, though they confined their and myrrh, gold, and frankincense in tiny treasure boxes instead of fancy paper. This story is likely why we associate gift wrap in Orlando with the holiday season, though it is used for most gift-giving purposes.

Traditional gift wrap

So how did the world transition to the modern wrapping paper we use today? This transition can all be credited to the popularity of Christmas cards: In the 1800s, individuals started mailing paper Christmas cards across Europe and America. As printing technology improved, printing and peddling paper cards became easier. Ultimately, the tradition became so widespread that card factories started printing patterned tissue paper corresponding to card designs, and the market steadily expanded. By the 1900s, both paper Christmas cards and tissue had evolved to wild popularity in the West.

But the innovation of the proper paper gift wrapping can be credited to the Hallmark company. In the early 1900s, two brothers ran a stationery shop in Kansas City, printing cards and tissue paper for the approaching holiday season. Once they ran out of the tissue paper people used to wrap presents, they commenced with printing enormous rolls of the patterned wrapping paper we know and treasure today. Within a couple of years, Hallmark constructed and provided a large abundance of gift wrap and sold it all over the country.

Today, Americans spend billions of dollars on gift wrap yearly. But, of course, the cost of this practice isn’t just financial. Millions of pounds of paper gift wrap are thrown away each year because most of it is not recyclable. So when my gift wrap stock runs out, I may transition to reusable fabric gift wrap options instead.

Contact us today to see our available options of gift wrap in Orlando. Let us help you make the wrapping on your gift as unique as what’s inside.