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Published November 22 2012

Beat the wrap: Learn how to make your presents presentable this year (WITH VIDEO)

As the holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday today, so too do we ring in the season of wrapping paper, bows and ribbons.

According to Hallmark, the gift wrap industry was born during the Christmas season of 1917. Ninety-five years later, we use somewhere near 800 tons of wrapping paper between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to The Guardian newspaper in London.

Unfortunately, some of that wrapping paper is used by me.

Indeed, every year under the Benshoof family Christmas tree, there are gifts wrapped by everyone else, and then there are the gifts wrapped by me.

I’m not quite sure how it came to be that I missed out on that wrapping gene. But my ability is undeniably lacking (I have a long wrap sheet against me, I guess you could say).

Because it was way past time to be able to wrap a presentable present, this week I reached out to Jeff Anderson, a member of the Fargo Optimist Club, for some guidance over a wrap session.

Anderson and the Optimist Club, in addition to the Kiwanis Club, will be wrapping gifts at the West Acres Shopping Center from Dec. 14 until Christmas Eve. For people who don’t have time to wrap their own gifts or are just bad at it, like me, professional wrappers like Anderson are a lifeline.

It’s no secret that wrapping presents shouldn’t be the most difficult thing in the world. All you need is some wrapping paper, tape, scissors, bows and ribbons.

To get started, the first and most important step is to measure the length of the wrapping paper, Anderson explained.

“Make sure the width of the paper is the same as the longest dimension on the box,” he told me. “When it comes to folding ends, that’s always one of the most difficult things. If you get the length correct to start with, that makes it much easier.”

Center the paper on the item you’re wrapping, and then wrap the paper around it so the edges meet, securing it with a piece of tape (duh).

Then, the tough part (for me, at least): the folding, which always seems to look loose and unprofessional when I try it.

“Pushing down, and creating a right angle, fold the paper into place,” Anderson told me.

Once you’ve created nice tight folds and taped them to the box, it’s time to move on to the ribbon and bows (which should be color-coordinated with the wrapping paper, Anderson says, to make for a more attractive package).

Wrap the ribbon around the box and then tape it to the bottom so it’s tight around the package, Anderson explained.

Position the bow off-center on the box to give the whole package a less symmetrical look.

If you want to get really fancy about the whole thing, take ribbons an extra mile by cutting two pieces of similar length, laying them on top of each other and then cutting small slits in the end. Curl those edges to dress the package up a little bit, Anderson says.

Simple, right? That’s what I thought as I watched Anderson demonstrate the whole process for me step-by-step. There’s really no reason why, as a 25-year-old, I should still wrap gifts like a 5-year-old.

Maybe all I needed was to observe a professional to get my wrapping on the right track.

If not, I’ll just keep recycling the same gift bags I use every year. Surely people stop noticing after a while.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535