Gift-giving is a customary part of celebrating important life events. Gift packaging finds its roots in Asia, when in China during the Southern Song dynasty (960 to 1279 AD) gifts of money were wrapped in paper made from hemp, bamboo fibers, and rice straws. In Japan, wrapping cloth called Furoshiki has been a part of gift-giving since the Eno period (1603 to 1867).
The West was a little slower to catch on, however, until the Victorian era where decorative papers were created to accompany greeting cards. Gift wrap as we know it found its way into the mainstream in 1917, thanks to J.C. and Rollie Hall, two brothers who ran a stationery store in Kansas City. After running out of the customary plain tissue paper used to wrap gift boxes, they brought in decorative French paper normally used to line envelopes. The decorative papers quickly caught on and in 1919 the brother’s greeting card store, Hallmark, began producing decorative wrapping paper for the sole use of wrapping gifts. From those humble beginnings, an industry was born.
A study published in 1992 tested the theory if wrapped gifts are more meaningful to the recipient. The results found that the effects of gift wrapping made people happy. This probably isn’t news to you if you’ve ever seen joy on the faces of those who receive a beautifully wrapped gift box.
Try It: Gift Box Poetry
There’s a knock on your front door, you open it to find a gift box addressed to you. Immediately you know the gift is from someone special to you, as you can tell by the way it is wrapped. What does your gift box look like? What kind of wrapping paper, bows, and decorations adorn it? How does it represent the person who gave it to you? What do you think is inside the gift box? Write a poem about your special present and share it with us in the comment section below.
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Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a poem from Rick we enjoyed:
I have gone into the narrows
of wet spruce and boxcar roofs,
baked for miles of track. Poetry
gleaned in the glide of stacked
beams out the slightest portal, then
set neat on lath, ten wide, five high.
In the galloping sounds that raise
a house, a cadence, and cesuras
found in the reaching for a nail,
the cantos of the carpenters,
make walls and windows with each room.
Hearts and poems live in such things.
—by Rick Maxson
Photo by RomitaGirl67. Creative Commons via Flickr.
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How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland
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Heralding a new era in gift wrap
An American pair of entrepreneurs
Latched onto a winning idea
Lo and Behold! They employed French papers
Meant for lining envelopes
Artful commercial application yielding
Kudos, Rollie & J.C.
I’m so glad they did, aren’t you?! Thank you Katie!
Yes I am! Thank you, Donn:)
(I imagined sending, rather than receiving, a special package. )
Sky Blue and Silver
close your eyes
let darkness fall upon blue seas
hold out empty hands
receive gift I would send
wrapped in transparent sky blue
tied with a sparkly, silver bow
gently pull, unravel the silver
lift the lid, open the box
tilt darkness to the sun
let light touch the shadows
a thousand pages open
rich, beautiful words flutter
your eyes glimmer silver-blue
your laughter scatters like glitter
see all that you love
drench your heart and hands
Rick Maxson says
Love “tilt darkness to the sun.”
Thank you, Rick.
I love the images here, and I especially love ‘laughter scatters’ – oh that’s such a rich image. 🙂
Thanks so much, Donna.
Wow, beautiful, Prasanta!
Thank you, Katie.
Rick Maxson says
Thanks for posting my poem, Heather.