Whether it’s gift-wrapped trinkets, festive paper garlands or peek-a-boo Advent calendars, paper products play an important role during the winter holidays. Each year worldwide, consumers use nearly 3 billion square-feet – or 8,000 tons – of wrapping paper just for holiday gifts.
While gift-wrapping has been around since the invention of paper (around 105 C.E.), holiday gift-wrapping didn’t become popular until the Victorian Era in England (1837-1901). Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most holiday gifts were edible, homemade goods or other perishable items. Common gifts were homemade foods and sweets, oranges (which were a special treat as they were rare), handcrafted gifts and other useful handmade items.
Paper holiday decorations and ornaments also were common during the Victorian Era and continued to be popular worldwide until the 1960s, when mass-produced plastic decorations became less expensive and more durable. Victorian children often made ornaments from paper or foil and festive colored chains from strips of paper as their contribution to their family’s holiday decorating.
Industrialization and the growth of advertising eventually changed the simple customs of holiday gift giving and decorating. Today, Americans spend nearly half a trillion dollars ($500 billion) each year on holiday gifts, plus more than $16 billion on holiday decorations.
What have been some of your most memorable gifts? Do you have any gift-wrap hints or tips to share? Please post your comments below.