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Melissa Schmalenberger, Areavoices blogger, Published December 03 2011

Ms. Simplcity: Taming the gift wrap tiger

Almost every client I work with has a wrapping paper collection. Most were purchased on the day-after-Christmas paperpalooza. Most are more than 5 years old. And most will never be used as there are never enough gifts to make the gigantic collection disappear.

When I try to get clients to pare down their collection, it feels like I am asking them to give up their first born. Why is that? It’s because the paper has become the memories associated with the person or the gift that it was wrapped in or purchased for. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve heard, “I can’t get rid of that. That is the paper that I wrapped Susie’s present with in 1998” or “That is the paper that I wrapped Tim’s first train in.” Or I often hear what a good bargain it was: “I got that for 50 cents, and you just never know when birds in a nest are going to become popular again.”

I ask my client’s to declare amnesty on wrapping paper (and this goes for gift bags as well), forgive themselves for the past digressions and to stop buying those slender tubes of color that appear to be shouting their name from the store aisle. Find your signature paper and stick with it.

What is a signature paper? For me, it is simple brown paper with a beautiful ribbon. For you, it may be gold paper with red flowers on it. A signature paper should transcend all holidays and occasions. Put a different colored ribbon on it for birthday, anniversary or wedding gifts. Having a signature paper will help you with the onslaught of pretty papers on sale calling your name from the clearance bin. Find your signature paper and stick with it.

I have been wanting to get to a signature paper for three years now, but I still have not exhausted my day-after Christmas paperpalooza from 2006. I hope this is the year that I use the rest of the paper up and start going to my signature wrap!

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Melissa Schmalenberger is a professional organizer. She blogs at mssimplicity.areavoices.com.