When did we all collectively decide that wrapping gifts was très passé and gift bags were en vogue? Sorry, that’s too much French; I suddenly feel the need to surrender to the enemy. The point is–was this a democratic decision or a hostile takeover? Freedom of choice or pressure to conform?
Technically, gift bags were introduced in 1987, but I never laid eyes on one until the 1990s. Apparently, it took off like gangbusters, and we all baaa’d like sheep and got on board the bandwagon. Was it sheer laziness that compelled us to simply toss our gifts on a bed of tissue, or did we want to stay on top of trends? Or was it like elections–we simply wanted change?
Just sit back with a mug of Sleepytime tea and visualize the o tannenbaum of your dreams: Does it stand proudly atop a slew of thoughtfully-wrapped red, green, silver, and gold boxes, some balanced and piled four gifts high? Or is it a one-level wasteland of crinkled Dollar Store gift bags with half-ply Charmin spilling out? I can tell you which option will grace the pages of Southern Living.
And as far as Christmas is concerned, how do we explain that Santa’s sack is full of gift bags? Certainly, the wind would catch them at some point, and they would float away into the wintry night sky. And who wants to picture Santa at his or her fireplace, daintily pulling gift bags out of his sack, preciously setting them under the prelit $300 Hobby Lobby “Douglas Fir?” Not I. I’ll take my Santa without cream and sugar, thank you.
And isn’t the part of the thrill of childhood ripping the paper to shreds? Just getting full-on Tasmanian Devil and taking out all your latent aggression from that stupid vocab test and that idiot who puts his mouth on the water fountain before you, and just tear into it like nobody’s business? Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown?
But it’s not just the holidays. Have you ever celebrated a birthday party at a restaurant, and the official time for the guest of honor to open gifts has not arrived, so you’re sitting there, eating chips and salsa, drinking margarita after margarita, trying not to accidentally kick over the gift bag next to your stilettos, for fear that the innards will spill out all over the tiled floor? No need to fear with a wrapped gift. It’s spillproof.
And why should I have to spend $5 on a gift bag for a $10 gift? Yes, I’m cheap. Rare indeed is the friendship that mandates more than a $25 gift. You can see I’m not wealthy, or my site would be pimping 4×4 truck ads all up and down the margins. And P.S. does it REALLY matter to you what the gift TAG looks like? Or will it be discarded within seconds? If by chance, I have cutesie reindeer and snowman “to and from” stickers on hand, super. But if it’s not a holiday, you’re name is being written on top in Sharpie pen. Deal with it.
Furthermore, you can’t rip adhesive off a fabulous curlicue red bow and shove it on a gift bag. Some of those glue adhesives retain ever-stickable properties; you can use and reuse for up to threescore years. They look absurd on gift bags, but when centered on a wrapped gift–it’s like the porridge that Goldilocks ate. Just right. And don’t get me started on mylar pom poms…
Now if you’ve blogged long enough, you may have stumbled upon the sites of fashionistas who lose their religion over a pair of Jimmy Choos. That kind of enthusiasm is contagious. I wasn’t like that in my 20s. But wouldn’t it be awesome to go all ape$#%& over a pair of SHOES? I couldn’t dredge that up for a winning lottery ticket.
The closest I ever came to that level of irrepressable excitement was over a decade ago, on a visit to The Container Store. That’s right. It didn’t matter that the weather outside was frightful, because what I beheld was delightful–aisles (plural) of gift wrap tubes. In prints you’d never conceived of. Prints that blew my mind.
But gift bags don’t make me giddy. Now I understand their merits–when you care enough to regift the very best–if you have occasion for an enormous monkey-themed baby shower bag, or enough friends who appreciate “Feliz Cumpleanos” bags in fishing village hues. The tissue, however, cannot be recycled. Once it’s been tugged out, it’s DOA. The smoothness is gone, and it just looks trashy. Oh, I’m sure you’ve tried it. Maybe you thought you got away with it. But they knew. They knew.