Of course, those blessed with the double-whammy skills of self-organization and military-precision wrapping can close their browser window and march away to get on with planning their summer holidays for the next five years, untroubled by what follows.
The rest of us may possibly take some comfort from my Ten Rules For Wrapping Christmas Presents. Only please don't take all this too seriously, will you? Rules are usually about as much use as my husband is when a pan boils over while I've nipped to the loo.
So charge a large glass with something intoxicating - no, not Bovril, dear - and sit down with your feet up. No, higher than that. Up on the wall, if you can; it helps the fluid drain from your swollen ankles after you've been round the shops for the umpteenth time. This is going to be very, very silly, and you will need all your concentration not to spit out your eggnog.
TEN RULES FOR WRAPPING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
Rules are for other people. So let's consider these guidelines instead. Having said that, if there's one thing you must absolutely NOT DO at Christmas, it's decide there's only one right way to do something. There are many different ways to wrap presents, so don't get your blood pressure up at any of my 'rules'. Okay? And go get another drink. You'll need it for what follows. And grab one for me while you're at it. So basically, rule 1 is .... drink alcohol while wrapping. Better take a whole bottle in there. For frequent top-ups.
|99p: Amazon UK|
Lock the door. This probably should have been Rule 1. You don't want those nosy blighters getting in while you're wrapping their Spiderman outfit and plastic tea set. If there's no lock on your door, barricade yourself in or put up a sign sporting a skull and crossbones that says, NO ENTRY, or hand out the ultimate threat before entering (No Computer Time For A Week) if anyone attempts to spy on you while wrapping. This is a moment that must be shrouded in the utmost secrecy. Think For Your Eyes Only government experiments or military testing zones. There must be no intruders!
Engage sellotape. Now, there are many different methods for this. Some people are well-prepared, with a flat area like a desk or table-top and a sellotape dispenser, one of those clever gizmos that lets you snick off the exact amount you need without ever losing the invisible end of the sellotape. And let's face it, the more alcohol you consume (see Rule 1) the less likely it is you will be able to find that damn invisible end of the sellotape, invented specifically to mock us while in extremis. So a dispenser is worth the extra expense. But if you are like me and too disorganized to get a diospenser in advance of this event, and have to nip across to the local one-stop-shop for sellotape roughly five minutes before beginning to wrap, then you will have to use an Alternative Method for not losing the end.
My method - and this is time-honoured - is as follows: you break off about 20 short strips of sellotape in advance, with scissors or teeth as preferred, and stick them gingerly by one end to a smooth surface near-at-hand from which you can remove them without any problems as and when you need them. For the past 15 years I have slept in a wooden sleigh-bed, and its smooth curved scroll-like end is perfect for attaching and detaching sellotape. I then perch on the bed, which is covered with unwrapped presents, and do the terrible deed right there. Which leads me to ...
Lay out your dead. No, wait, I mean gifts. Lay out your gifts. The scale of your present-giving will determine the amount of space required for this. Or you could be canny and just deal with one gift at a time, with an in-pile and an out-pile in some other area of the room. I would have issues with this method, however, as the more alcohol I consume (see Rule 1 again), the less able I am to potter about the room hunting for presents or neatly stacking wrapped gifts in the correct place. I'm more a kind of pounce, wrap, toss aside in a haphazard 'done' pile, person. So if you are anything like me, you will need a large working area where you can arrange your presents before wrapping, which is when you will find ...
|On Amazon UK|
Make sure you have enough presents for everyone, and that the spread is equitable. This is such a fundamental of wrapping that it really needs ten rules of its own. However, I shall not sport with your intelligence by pursuing that. Suffice it to say, you should already have made sure you have enough presents for the whole family and - and oh golly, this is the most important rule of all for those with kids - that every child has the same number of presents as the others. Let me repeat that more simply. DO NOT GET MORE OR LARGER PRESENTS FOR JACK THAN JILL, unless you want the Queen's Speech to be drowned out by screaming, shouting, wailing, and probably Jack getting a sock in the eye from a now distraught Jill. These things matter to the little blighters more than you could possibly fathom. So this is the ideal moment to check whether you need to dash out for a chocolate Santa for Jill. Which brings me to Rule 6.
Do not leave the wrapping of presents until 10pm Christmas Eve. This is a fundamental mistake and one which will almost certainly result in tears if you are a parent of more than one child. Your tears at first. Your drunken, self-flagellating tears. (I don't advise wrapping too early either, or you will have to police the pile under the tree for weeks beforehand. Even the best-behaved kids can turn light-fingered in face of all that shiny temptation.) But if it's too late now and you're reading this at 10.05pm on Christmas Eve, with five large presents for Jill on one side, and two dog-eared looking gifts for Jack on the other, you are on your own, mate. Those nice folks at Amazon and Argos have gone home to do their own last-minute wrapping. The internet has fallen silent at last. The shops are all closed. You are alone with your glaring error. Oh well, never mind. Have another drink.
Buy enough wrapping paper to go round. No, you'll need more than that. No, even more. No, no, no, no. Good grief. Look, imagine how many rolls of wrapping paper you would need for, say, five Christmases in a row. Then add a couple of 5-metre rolls, just in case. Right, now you're sorted. Good luck, and if you run out, don't come crying to me. (Because I'm under the bed, trying to hunt down those leftover rolls from last year ...)
|Have yourself a Merry Christmas with my new Trio of Romcoms: great value!|
Know that bows and fancy string and glitter and all that expensive guff is utterly wasted on anyone under the age of eleven. So put it away. Yes, it looks lovely. Oooh, sparkly. No, they won't care and you'll just be wasting your time and money, because Jack is going to rip that shiny blue holographic paper off, sparkly glitter and bow and fancy gold string and all, and toss your beautiful wrappings aside like it was something the dog peed on, so he can get straight to the tipper truck inside. Take my advice as a veteran mother of five; don't bother with anything but a straight 'cover it in paper' job. You will only end up picking glitter out of the rug for the next three weeks.
Have another drink. Go on, get it down your neck. Everything will look much better afterwards. See Rule 1 and triple it.
Keep a pre-prepared gift list at one side and tick them all off as you wrap. Tom's swanky watch. CHECK. Bethany's embarrassing fluffy slippers. CHECK. Your mother-in-law's bottle of Scotch. CHECK. (No, not as in, check it by drinking some. Tsk, tsk.) If you don't do this, sod's law says you will end up leaving something in your sock drawer or other suitably clever hiding-place and only discover it either, a.) on Christmas morning, when your bewildered spouse whispers in your ear, 'Why haven't we given Aunt Hilda a present this year?' or b.) in July, when you go rummaging for that snorkel-and-shorts set in the bottom drawer before heading off on your summer hols, only to discover Aunt Hilda's comic golf club warmers lurking there instead. Oops.
Now that all my own shopping is nearly done, all I need now is to visit the off-licence ...