How to top gift packages


Make your holiday gift packages as distinctive as your gifts. Bruce Littlefield, author of Merry Christmas, America, shows you how to top your gift packages cleverly, to make them unique and memorable.

How to top gift packages
  • Put something on top of your gift package that reminds you of the person you're giving the gift to and says, “You're something special and I'm thinking of you.”
  • A little creativity goes a long way towards crafting that “special message” that lets you demonstrate the true spirit of holiday giving. Finding an item that reminds you of the recipient or is a “favorite” of theirs is a heart-felt way to recognize them. And the items need not be expensive. Scour garage sales, flea markets, yard sales and craft stores.
  • Spend some extra time and effort thinking about person getting the gift, and tailor the item on top to them. If possible, be on the lookout for items all year long, not just at holiday season.
  • Consider things that acknowledge something important to your recipient. These can be life events, hobbies, relationships or nostalgic items from childhood.
  • Look for items that have panache and style, and demonstrate your understanding of what’s important to your recipient.
  • Have FUN with your holiday gifts, and think about how creative, unexpected items on top of your packages can make your gifts distinctive and memorable.

LISA: It’s holiday time at I’m Lisa Birnbach. Now, of course we could just tie a ribbon on a box; but isn’t it more fun to do that? Bruce Littlefield is here. His new book is Merry Christmas, America! And he’s going to help us be more original when it comes to wrapping.

BRUCE: A little creativity goes a long way when you’re wrapping. The great thing, as you said, I did a pretty good job at wrapping this and this would be a happy package.

LISA:  It is a happy package because this is unusual.

BRUCE: It is unusual — it’s fur ribbon. I got it at the craft store for about $2. The idea of putting something on top of a package that reminds you of the person that you’re giving it to is something really great. So this, for example, is for my sister’s new baby. I have got, as you demonstrated, a fabulous topper — I’ll put that on and they’ll love me.

LISA: So the idea is to coordinate gift-wrapping with something particular... That reminds you of someone.

BRUCE: That’s for my Dad. He’s a fisherman. He’s a fisherman. He likes to go fishing. So when I saw that at a yard sale I bought that with the idea that at some point I would give that to him on top of a package.

LISA:  Which suggests to me, Bruce, is that you’re not just thinking about Christmas at Christmas time, you’re thinking about it all year long — as you go from sale to sale.

BRUCE: I’m thinking about that person all year long. So you know, my dad has a birthday. My dad has great times that I just want to send him a gift. So those kinds of things, those kinds of moments, are the time you want to send something extra special. And when you do, you’ve got it. Just tie it onto something and it makes the present better.

LISA: Who likes the “sauce” in your family?

BRUCE:Well, my family doesn’t like the “sauce,” but I have a good friend who does; and she’s going to love me when this is on the top of her package. And the thing that I really feel is that when my friend Michelle gets this, she’s going to get a good laugh and she’s also going to have a good drink. And she’s going to say, “My friend Bruce is really thoughtful — he knows I love rum.” “Really thoughtful and thinking about me.” “He knows I like a nice bottle of rum for breakfast under the tree.”

LISA:  Exactly, with your Fruit Loops.

BRUCE: These could go to anyone, but it’s for the bath: to soften your bath. It just really makes the package super special. Now look at these — you’ll love these. These I saw... my friend collects earrings... and I saw these and I said, “These are for Bev.” And so for this Christmas, these will be on the top of her package.

LISA: Where did you find Bev’s earrings?

BRUCE: I found these at a yard sale in Baltimore. These...don’t tell Bev...but they cost me, like, 50 cents. And they look like they were, like, 75 cents. You’re exactly right. In fact, I got yours and mine for next Christmas.

LISA:  What about this yardstick?

BRUCE: This is for my grandfather, and he used one of these when I was growing up; and so it has a special memory in my mind. So I’m going to wrap his present this year... I saw this and I’m going to wrap his present... Look. He’s going to like that. He’s going to like it and he’s going to know that I have a memory of him that is something special.

LISA:  Great project to do with your kids.

BRUCE: We’ve taken an ordinary box and we’ve turned it into something extraordinary, something special.

LISA:  That’s quite pretty.

BRUCE: It’s really nice, right.

LISA:  That is pretty. Bruce Littlefield, thank you so much for being with us. Happy holidays.

BRUCE: You too. Thank you.

LISA:  For, I’m Lisa Birnbach.

meet theexpert
  • Bruce Littlefield

    Bruce Littlefield Design and Lifestyle Guru Bruce Littlefield is a New York-based designer, writer, and restaurateur. Hailed as a "design and lifestyle guru" by Publisher's Weekly, he is the author of the recently published Merry Christmas, America!: Megawatt Displays Across the U.S.A. (HarperCollins 2007), Garage Sale America and Airstream Living (HarperCollins 2007), and co-writer of the best-selling Use What You've Got and Other Business Lessons I learned from My Mom (Penguin Group) with real-estate magnate Barbara Corcoran. The Today more about this expert »