Roisin Gorman’s open letter on… Christmas wrapping

‘I’ll keep trying because wrapping is Christmas, even if the kids want cash. Can you put a bow on a bank transfer?’
Kirstie Allsopp is the Christmas queen

Kirstie Allsopp is the Christmas queen

It’s furoshiki time. It’s either the Japanese art of wrapping or an exotic mushroom. Now that the environmental cost of everything must be measured and given its own guilt rating, I can’t do anything about our fake Christmas tree, which is officially older than Greta Thunberg, but the tree-to-gift ratio of wrapping paper can be managed.

I usually find the most Zen festive moments are just me, some gifts and a well-turned corner, the Christmas origami of a beautifully presented present. The tape hangs like tails from the edge of the table while some precision folding and tucking takes place. I haven’t succumbed to the lure of the hand-worn tape dispenser because it’s just one step away from the glue gun and becoming Kirstie Allsopp. In moments of creativity, or when I’ve too much time on my hands, I’m partial to the six-inch curls beloved of Elf when just a scissor blade and some ribbon create a ringlet like the wig on an Irish dancer, only more elegant. This obsession with the aesthetics of a gift which could contain nothing more exotic than new pants has baffled my family, but the presents live under the tree for weeks while the opening takes seconds, so what’s wrong with some beautifully boxed boxers? I recently shamed a friend into getting her wrap on when she foolishly mentioned scattering uncovered gifts around the living room for the kids to cruise on Christmas morning. It had all the mystery of a Lidl advert, but while her enforced change of heart got the kids some frenzied unwrapping, I’d also talked her into unnecessary festive waste, which lead to my attempts to undo the damage with furoshiki, the art of wrapping gifts in reusable silk squares. It’s like a beach sarong which can be a scarf, a dress or a three-piece suit. There are 12 ways to wrap a gift, which beats my current record by 11, and the videos are Blue Peter for big people. The skilled practitioner can make a wine bottle look like a flowering orchid; the truly enlightened can wrap two bottles in a symphony of silk. No shape is too awkward, and any gift can be made to look like art. Let’s just say if someone in your life is getting a Cliff Richard calendar, you might want to get the silk squares out. I practised with a slightly sloped skincare gift – only present bought, Christmas is sorted – and meticulously followed a YouTube video. It didn’t go well. Silk is gorgeous but it slips through your fingers until the expertly crafted bow looked like I’d stuffed a pillowcase with bricks. Attempt two at entou tsutsumi didn’t fare any better. For the love of Kirstie, I’m only rolling something in fabric while pulling two ends together to create a lotus blossom. How did it get so difficult? You’d nearly think this was a 1,200-year-old skill which can’t be learned in two minutes online. It’s a nailed-on guarantee that no wine bottles will be leaving my house in silk. A gift bag is reusable but taking the tag off and hoping the recipient didn’t give you the same bag last year isn’t the same as practising an ancient oriental art form. I’ll keep trying because wrapping is Christmas, even when faced with the challenge of kids who want cash. There must be a way to put a bow on a bank transfer.


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