Personal Musings

How I Got Out of Wrapping Christmas Presents This Year

All it cost was $5 and I was free from wrapping a single Christmas present this year. A glorious freedom. Let me re-enact the scene as it played out in my living room.

Me: I’ll give you $5 if you wrap all my presents.

Daughter: Bet.

Me: Oh, word? We have ourselves a deal.

// handshake //

“Bet,” for all you middle aged and above folks like myself means:

A slang term of affirmation, agreement, or approval along the lines of “Cool” or “I’m down.”


What happened to Christmas gift wrapping services in the first place?

Does anyone remember the gift wrapping services that were once an integral part of Christmas shopping in the 1980s and 90s? There was a line you’d go to in the mall before departure — I think, if my memory serves me correctly, it was set-up in Belk — and you’d place all your presents on a counter and there was a group of people (were they elves?) that would ask you what wrapping paper you wanted and then, like black magic, would wrap all of your gifts right in front of you.

I’ve searched high and low like Indiana Jones seeking the Holy Grail for a gift wrapping service where I live for the past decade. Not a one exists — not that I can find.

It’s an abomination.

Me searching for the holy grail of gift wrapping services in town

Men already struggle as is with buying presents on time and now we are expected to wrap them ourselves? What in tarnation is this? And I’ve wrapped presents for the past decade-plus. Don’t get me wrong.

But I’m terrible at it.

I’ve watched countless YouTube videos. I’ve read through multiple step-by-step guides on WikiHow. Yet the end result looks like Edward Scissorhands teamed up with the Tasmanian Devil.

It’s obvious every year which gifts I wrapped under the tree.

Kids: This is from Daddy, they say without even looking at the From: on the name tag.

Me: How did you know?

Kids: I can tell by the wrapping. It looks like you pulled it out the bottom of a festering trash dump.

Just kidding. They don’t say that last sentence. But I know they are thinking it. I know these things.

I enjoy Christmas shopping for my family. I put a lot of thought into my gifts. I actually go in-store to shop for most of my gifts. Okay, okay. Part of the reason why I go in-store is because I waited too late to do online shopping and there’s no way in hell the gift will arrive on my doorstep in time otherwise. But I digress.

Gift wrapping is a form of arts and crafts hell

But gift wrapping? It’s like a form of arts and crafts torture and I’m terrible at arts and crafts. I disliked arts and crafts in elementary school, at church, 4-H (anyone remember 4-H?) — anywhere we had to do arts and crafts. I’m frankly the worst arts and crafts participant in the history of arts and crafts participants.

I’m a decent artist, as in I can draw pretty well if I put my mind to it. But arts and crafts — anything involving paper and tape at the same time (which is how I classify arts and crafts… don’t even get me started on glue) — is pure torture for me.

I am so bad.

So, so bad.

Know your limitations, then improvise

Have you ever visited my home and I made you a four-course meal? No. No, you haven’t. Because if I made you a four-course meal, you’d probably die of food poisoning within t-minus three hours.

I know my limitations. I can make a mean scrambled egg. I can spice up a frozen Newman’s Own Four Cheese Pizza so well it would force an 8.4 rating or above from Dave Portnoy on One Bite Pizza Reviews. One bite. Everyone knows the rules.

But there are certain things in life I can’t do; and by can’t do, I don’t mean: I don’t do them well. I mean: I do them so horribly my self-esteem plummets and I sit in a corner shivering, crying tears of existential regret.

  • Like riding a unicycle: Can’t do it. I know I can’t do it. So I don’t own a unicycle.
  • Driving to Washington, D.C. by myself and properly going through all paid tolls: Ha. EZ Pass? Don’t have one. Send me the ticket and the photograph of my license plate in the mail of me bypassing all tolls. I don’t do this on purpose, of course. I just have no freaking idea what lane I’m supposed to be in because I grew up in Charlotte County, Virginia, where we don’t even have a single stop light. No wonder I made it to D.C. so quickly.
  • Having a gentle voice: I wish my voice was a bit softer and sweeter at times, but it’s not. My wife has described it as rough around the edges. So people that don’t know me may think I’m mad when I’m not mad. It’s just my speaking voice. I can’t change it. I sound like Tom Waits on a piano after a round of shots, except I don’t own a piano and I don’t drink.

I care so much I’m dishing out dollars. Don’t get it twisted

And gift wrapping is like this for me. Paying my daughter to wrap all my gifts this year doesn’t equate to me not caring. I don’t care what you may say or think. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have bought anyone jack s—t in the first place. I’m of the philosophy work smarter, not harder. Plus, my daughter gets to pocket $5 for her assistance.

Before anyone thinks I’m a cheapskate because I agreed to a measly $5, the reality is I didn’t think she’d go for it. I really didn’t. It was a complete surprise. She needs to learn the art of bargaining. This is a life lesson. The way the scene would have played out could have easily been:

Me: I’ll give you $5 if you wrap all my presents.

Daughter: $100

Me: Too steep. $10.

Daughter: $75.

Me: Can’t do it. Lower your asking price.

Daughter: You’ll have to wrap your own presents if I walk away from the deal.

Me: Please, don’t. I beg you.

Daughter: I’m walking.

Me: $25.

Daughter: $75.

Me: $30.

Daughter: $75.

Me: $50 and a slushie from 7-Eleven. That’s my final offer.

Daughter: Bet.

// handshake //

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