Traipsing around the crowded shops then lugging home your bags is only half of the job – next you have to tackle the wrapping!
For many people, this is a dreaded chore and something best done as rapidly as possible.
But a beautifully-wrapped gift can actually be part of the pleasure of Christmas.
Julie Domican, who works in visual merchandising at John Lewis, said: “Just imagine the person’s face lighting up when you give them the gift.”
With a little time and creativity, it’s possible to achieve an expert-quality finish at home, too.
Julie suggests making the wrapping itself a bit of an event, so that it doesn’t feel like a dreaded chore.
“If you’ve got a big pile of presents to get through, spread the wrapping up over a few nights,” she said.
“Put on a CD and make it enjoyable. You can get the family involved or get friends round and make an evening of it – so long as people aren’t wrapping up their own gifts!”
First, you need to shop for your supplies.
“Make sure everything matches nicely, or if you want to go for multiple colours, make sure they go well together,” said Julie.
You’ll also need a suitable pair of scissors, and a clear, solid surface to work on. A table is ideal, or you may prefer to sit on the floor.
It may be a good idea to lay a protective sheet to avoid scraping precious surfaces.
Domican recommends using double-sided tape, for a really professional finish, as the tape won’t be visible on the outside.
Failing that, tape that comes in a dispenser – even better, one that attaches to your wrist – will make the job a lot easier than having to snip off pieces of sticky-tape as you go.
TUCK AND TRIM
To work out how much paper you need per item, the general rule is to place the gift on the paper with enough paper on all sides to fold over the top, and overlap by at least an inch.
After folding one side of the paper over, if you’re using double-sided tape you'll then be able to place the tape along the outside edge of the paper, and fold the other side of the paper over the top and stick it down.
To tape down the remaining paper at the top and bottom, start by gently pushing the paper down onto the gift (the side with the taped seam), then fold the two sides next to it down, trimming and tucking any stray edges until you have a neat triangle which you can press down.
“Cylinders can be done in a similar way,” said Julie. “When wrapping awkward shapes, the best trick is to pop the gift into a box first, which you can then wrap, or buy a gift box and fill it with shredded tissue paper, or a nice gift bag.
“If you do want to wrap the gifts, choose a busy, patterned paper rather than a plain one. The pattern will distort over the awkward edges and they'll look better.”
Now for the fun part! Wrapping your gifts tidily is just part of the job – the finishing touches are what will make them look really special.
Even a simple ribbon or bow will look effective, or you can get even more creative and add little extras.
“To make presents extra special I put chocolates in little gift bags and attach them to the ribbon,” said Julie. “You can do the same with little trinkets, perhaps a little key-ring, just to add an extra, personal touch. Pretty baubles also work well – these will look good and form part of the gift.”
Making your presents look special doesn’t have to cost the earth, either. Collect pinecones, glue some glitter on them then attach them to gifts as an added decoration. It barely cost anything but looked very effective.