All Wrapped Up

The best things come in posh packaging - TOAST meets gift wrapping guru Jane Means

It’s hard not to be charmed by an elegantly packaged gift. (Unless you’re five-years-old, in which case, those handmade paper star garlands are a wholly unnecessary distraction from the latest Frozen paraphernalia buried deep beneath a mass of artfully layered tissue paper.) “Most people appreciate the time and thought that goes into a well-wrapped present,” says Jane Means, the royalty of ribbons. Countess of cellophane. Duchess of double-sided tape.

Since launching her eponymous gift wrapping company over 20 years ago, Means has consulted for a range of covetable brands, including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Molton Brown, Jo Malone and Ralph Lauren; has written a book endorsed by domestic goddess Kirstie Allsopp, sharing her trade secrets; and is about to launch the first ever self-sticking wrapping paper. (For anyone who’s spent a tearful Christmas Eve mouthing expletives at a roll of Sellotape that refuses to play ball, this is kind of a big deal.) She also runs regular workshops throughout the UK, as well as Australia and Singapore, where her husband lives.

With such a demanding schedule, does Means ever suffer from wrapping weariness? Not a chance. “I’ve always wanted to do this. I used to work for a florist and knew that if I could wrap plants, I could wrap anything.” Luckily for Means, there was little competition standing in the way of her dream. “Gift wrapping as a service didn’t really exist at the time. I would go to places like France, Austria or Belgium and everything down to bars of soap was beautifully packaged. In the UK, the only company that offered the service was The Conran Shop and even then, it was nothing more than a few pieces of paper and some stickers.”

Means took out an ad in Country Living and began teaching courses, eventually splashing out on a stand at the magazine’s annual fair in London. It was the best investment she ever made – the publication subsequently ran a series of editorials on her work and before long, companies were lining up to utilise her creative know-how. “When the recession hit in 2008, I travelled around the country to train staff. The high street was in trouble and adding an extra service such as gift wrapping helped entice customers back into stores.”

Jane Means Christmas

Jane Means Wrapping

It’s not just the retail world that can benefit from a Means tutorial – everyone is welcome at her six-hour workshops (at £140), from beginners to seasoned wrappers. “We cover the basics like measuring the exact amount of paper and ribbon required to avoid wastage to techniques such as putting pleats in paper and how to tackle awkward shapes – bottles, circular tins, flowers, gift vouchers, etc. Many people bring their own items along. We’ve had everything from candleabras to teddy bears. It doesn’t really matter what it is you’re wrapping– with clever tricks, you can make even the most simple gift seem really luxurious.”

Means is runs a number of workshops, so book now to hone your festive wrapping skills.

Christmas wrapping – Jane’s top tips

  • Keep it Tidy - It’s important to keep things neat. Excess paper will make your gift look bulky. You want clean lines, so make sure you use double sided tape. Look at gift wrapping in the same way you would when putting together an outfit. It takes time to get it right.

  • Rose Gold is this season's colour - In terms of trends, rose gold is really grabbing my eye at the minute. It’s a very fashionable colour and is so luxe. It makes a refreshing alternative to gold. Pair with brown, burgundy, rich pink or navy. Classics like gold, silver and the Scandi pairing of red and white always look great.

  • Ribbons and Trimmings - I’m seeing lots of ribbons with edges and trimmings rather than self-sticking plastic bows. Baker’s twine has also become hugely popular in recent years.

  • Tradition wrap looks stylish - I’ve always been inspired by brown paper – it’s very stylish and goes with almost any colour.

  • Remember to tag your gifts first - I’m always wrapping presents then forgetting about what’s inside, so it’s a good idea to write the tags first and place them on top of each item. If you’re wrapping gifts for children and are worried about them opening their gifts once they see their name on the tag, go with a colour code – maybe green for one child and red for another. Only you know who has what colour.

  • Make use of the natural world -  At this time of year, things like holly, dried flowers and sticks gathered on country walks make great embellishments for gifts. Rosemary is another idea as it smells lovely. I also like to pick fresh cranberries and wire them.

  • Try something different - Rather than struggle with paper, try tissue, netting, fabric, cellophane or crepe paper. They mound around awkwardly-shaped presents like footballs really well.

Paper Wrap

Christmas Wrapping Jane Means Red And Gold

Jane Means Wrapping Paper

Jane Means has kindly offered TOAST readers  20% off at www.janemeans.com  - Enter promo code 'toast16' at checkout*.  

For more information on Jane Means her workshops and wrapping services as well as purchasing items from her range, take a look at her listing in our Little Black Book and her website www.janemeans.com

*Excludes courses. Expires 31Dec16


Posted in Spotlight

by Alix O'Neill
on on 13 December 2016

  christmas wrapping, gift wrapping, presents

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