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Holiday Gift Wrapping

December 15, 2016

When it comes to gift giving, it’s the thought that counts: So why not add a personal touch with bespoke holiday (or any occasion) wrapping? Floral designer and expert craftswoman Shannon ONeil shows me how.

An Instagram search for @cargo_creative reveals a montage of colorful blooms: Whimsical wedding bouquets, sophisticated tabletop arrangements, fanciful flower crowns and earthy holiday wreaths are among the many projects O.C.-based floral designer and prop stylist Shannon ONeil has in her portfolio. There’s an earthy element to Shannon’s designs, an effortlessness that makes them more appealing than contrived arrangements. So when I decided to get crafty with my gift-wrapping this year, I knew which friend to enlist for instruction.

My shopping (and snipping) list:

  • Brown craft paper, printed paper
  • Twine, ribbon
  • Fresh blooms from the yard
  • Holly berries and leaves from the local flower shop
  • Homemade potpourri
  • Pinecones, twigs, and small decorative ornaments
  • Scissors, tape, glue gun

Like Shannon, I’m drawn to raw materials in nature that “add a lot of texture” — prickly pinecones, soft flower petals, fragrant pieces of fruit. These items can be found at your local craft store, or you can forage them yourself. (A quick Google search will show you many methods for making your own potpourri; cinnamon, spruce and eucalyptus also work well for winter holidays, but keep the recipient in mind when choosing a scent.)

First, I wrap my presents, all boxed, in brown craft paper or traditional print paper.

Next, I use twine to tie a simple cross around the box. (Shannon sometimes substitutes festive ribbon, she says, or will wind the twine in a messy fashion to create a “perfectly imperfect” present.)

Choosing “potpourri” (in my case, an unexpected mix of citrus, holly, pine cones and spray-painted gold walnuts), I arrange the various sized and shaped pieces on top of the box. (When wrapping gifts for children, Shannon will sometimes use tiny toys and trinkets that they’ll appreciate more than twigs and berries, she says.)

With my glue fun fired up and oozing, I cover the center of the top with a single layer of leaves and holly, and then secure the larger pieces — citrus slices, pinecones and nuts — with the hot, gooey adhesive. A little dollop on the back will do, and just hold against the paper for a few seconds. I do this with each piece, working my way from large to little. The tiniest ornaments should be on top.

I repeat these steps on all of the boxes, adding a personalized gift tag to each. Next year I’ll start early and make my own gift tags, too!

Written by Ashley Breeding

Ashley Breeding is a full-time magazine editor and freelance writer. Splitting her time between Palm Springs and Orange County, Calif., she covers feature stories, fitness & outdoors, architecture & design, fashion, health & beauty.

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