Gift Bags vs. Wrapping Paper


You have gifts to give out, so which is the best way to hand them out – with them being wrapped in wrapping paper or in a gift bag?

Gift Bags vs Wrapping Paper

Today gift givers have two popular options of how to bestow a present to someone – with wrapping paper or in a gift bag. 

The act of wrapping presents is said to go back centuries. Naturally, it’s evolved over time with innovations. We don’t just have to walk into parties handing someone a gift wrapped up in leaves or bamboo. Today, wrapping papers have endless colors and designs to choose from. What was once only reserved for the upper class elite, when gift wrapped presents started to really catch on in the 18th century, today everyone can enjoy it.

It was around 1919 when Hallmark began mass producing decorative wrapping paper and immediately the response was overwhelming. From then on wrapping gifts has become the traditional way of giving a present to someone.

Christmas family unwrapping presentsCan you imagine if you just handed someone an unwrapped present??? You’d probably be ostracized from society. I think in some areas the punishment for giving an unwrapped gift is death by stoning. 

But wrapping paper isn’t the only choice to impart a gift to someone, there’s also gift bags. 

According to the best I can find, modern day gift bags were introduced to consumers in 1987 by Hallmark – who else? Long before they inundated the airwaves with cheesy Christmas movies all year round, Hallmark also became the responsible party for creating the ‘gift bagging’ of presents craze. According to them, gift bags have eclipsed old fashioned wrapping paper into becoming “the number one way consumers choose to present gifts since 2002.” 

Say good-bye to tape, scissors and wrapping paper! Say hello to bags with handles adorned with endless designs on them.

So which is the better route to take between these two when having to give someone a present? 

Gift Bags better wrapping paper easy popularHaving to wrap a present with paper is a skill set that a lot of folks don’t have (I’m one of them). So, I completely understand the allure of going the gift bag route.

The talents of gift wrapping a present is considered by some an actual art. Wrapping presents can be such a fierce task they actually hold gift wrapping competitions with contestants demonstrating extraordinary feats of wrapping skills to the wondrous eyes of onlookers and judges. How can someone possibly wrap a tennis racket?!?! Who will win the coveted title of America’s Top Gift Wrapper?!?!

I imagine a gift bag competition would just time the contestants with a stopwatch on how fast they can stick the gift into the bag.

Christmas gift wrapping station store
Professional wrappers at the ready!

Holiday shoppers who are unequipped to wrap their holiday presents must look for help somewhere. Many shopping malls have a gift wrap station, where shoppers can take their presents to pros who will wrap them up and make them into striking, eye-catching wrapped final gifts. Rookie gift wrappers can hold their heads held high when they give their gift to their receiver (and probably never admitting they had it wrapped professionally).

Some of these gift centers look like colorful military operations with equipment, tools and no nonsense gift wrappers ready to jump into action at any given moment.

Or folks can skip all that effort and just stick their present in a gift bag. Maybe they can throw in some tissue paper or shredded paper inside too and be done with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen many extraordinary looking gift bag presentations. Really impressive, stunning stuff. But for the most part they’re generally just rectangular bags that are handed to gift receivers, they pull out the gift, say their thank you and more times than not, the gift bag is saved to be used for another go around of giving a gift to someone. 

elegant beautiful gift bagsThat’s one plus with gift bags – they’re completely reusable and don’t create as much waste. Wrapping paper by contrast is a complete waste of paper. You know how some people try to unwrap their presents really carefully with the intention of reusing the wrapping paper for….something? I doubt they ever actually do. Environmentalists probably solely use gift bags when handing out presents. 

But with a wrapped gift there’s much more fun to be had!

Do you remember being a kid spotting a present that has been carefully wrapped with your name on it and wondering what it might be? You calculate the shape, the size, maybe give it a shake and speculate about what is under that wrapping paper. Perhaps, you might even try to tear up a piece of tape on the corner to sneak a peak. 

Then you get that sense of exhilaration when you’re finally allowed to tear away that wrapping paper to reveal the gift! Kids excitedly rip away that paper like they were a lions attacking gazelles. Kids don’t care of the mess being made by this unwrapping ritual and there’s no regard of all the time and effort that went into carefully wrapping the present. They just want to see what it is! 

kids children unwrapping presentsPlus, with added flourishes like bows and ribbons to a wrapped gift, they just end up looking like something that will be so much fun to dive into and discover the mystery it contains! Those are moments everyone remembers – the anticipation, the euphoria and the final satisfaction.

On top of all that, wrapping paper can make even the most disappointing gifts seem like a momentary treasure when you’re first handed them. While they’re still wrapped you can imagine this beautiful gift could be anything! A few minutes later when you discover they’re just a pair of socks that’s when it becomes a downer.

You can’t compare all that kind of excitement to getting a present in a gift bag and just pulling it out. 

So, wrapping paper and gift bags both have pros and cons. A gift bag might be easier and more of a convenience for the gift giver, especially if they’re completely inept when it comes to wrapping presents, but in the end it’s the wrapped present that is the more rewarding experience for the recipient and will be more of a moment that will stick with them.

At least, that’s what I think. 


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