Summer 2020
Standout Gifts By Claire Sykes

Spark joy with beautiful packaging and gift wrapping

Who doesn’t love getting a present, wrapped up all pretty and tied with a bow? Opening a gift is a gift in itself.

Custom Print Gift Bags and Boxes from Nashville Wraps
Nashville Wraps offers custom digital printing on a variety of packaging for retailers.

When you offer customers the right gift wrap and packaging, you enhance people’s experiences of your store, while setting it apart from others. Maybe you’ve reopened for in-store business, or you’re sticking with pick-ups and deliveries. Either way, your gift wrap and packaging couldn’t be more important. From decorative wrapping paper and colorful tissue to customized labels, tags and enclosure cards, how you bag and box up purchases speaks volumes about your store.

Custom paper shopping bags
from The Packaging Source
are perfect for hot-stamped logos and feature low minimums.

Instead of a plain cardboard box full of Bubble Wrap with that gift wearing only its product packaging, the person receiving it could find it all dressed up, and with the company logo, making it special to unwrap it. It’s one more way you can express your store brand, with every sale you make.

Ever since Gum Tree, in Hermosa Beach, California, opened in November 2008, “we’ve always taken our gift wrap and packaging seriously, and made sure our branding runs through it,” said Lori Ford, owner.

Gum Tree decorative gifwrap
Gum Tree, in Hermosa Beach, California, makes sure its branding runs through all of the store’s packaging. Purchases leave the store nestled in aqua tissue tucked into a recycled plain, brown Kraft box or bag.

Sixty percent of Gum Tree’s gift-giving purchases leave the store nestled in aqua tissue, or zig-zag rainbow-colored for kids, tucked into a recycled plain, brown Kraft box or bag. Ford hand-rubberstamps these with the store logo, in teal; and it’s printed in aqua on round, white stickers. The store name, again in aqua, repeatedly runs the length of a narrow white cotton ribbon, for that nice, finishing touch.

Gum Tree gift packaging

“I love the simplicity of it, and the white and aqua pops,” said Ford, inspired by Tiffany & Co’s classy style. “We want all our branding to match the idea of quality, and beautiful and practical items, things you’d be excited to get as a gift.”

Ford has used the same gift-packaging materials and method for the past 11 years, another way Gum Tree stands out. She noted, “It’s a classic look that we’ve never grown tired of.” Neither have her customers. The longevity of it conveys a message of reliability and loyalty to them.

Branding of retailer Gum Tree is reflected in the gift wrap packaging.

Especially now, with people facing so many challenges, “consistency and comfort are really important.”

“It’s all about the ‘unboxing experience,’” said Drew Houseknecht, vice president of marketing at The Packaging Source, in Kernersville, North Carolina. “Given the coronavirus, many store owners have revamped their websites, to keep business flowing with online sales. As a result of more deliveries and pick-ups, we’ve been selling a lot more poly and paper mailers, and with store branding on them. Several customers who’ve always ordered plain, white bags now want their store name hot-stamped on them. There’s also a huge increase in tissue in more vibrant patterns, also in gift wrap. If online sales can recreate that special in-store, gift-wrapped experience for customers, that’ll differentiate that store from Walmart and others.”

The Packaging Source also has enjoyed a sales uptick in crinkle paper shred in a variety of colors, replacing void-fill packing peanuts or Bubble Wrap. “It looks nicer and is more aesthetically pleasing,” emphasized Houseknecht. “And you can recycle it.”

Could ecofriendly gift wrap and packaging be an emerging trend in the industry? Nancy Dickson, creative director of The Gift Wrap Company based in Hudson, Massachusetts, thinks so. “However, I also think we’re a ways off from being a truly ecofriendly society. Many retailers and consumers want to make eco-smart decisions with their gift packaging, but don’t want to give up the shiny foil and glittery papers and finishes that make the gift so appealing and fun. The key here is the development of ecofriendly glitters, papers and plastics that are affordable to use in manufacturing low-to-medium-cost goods and small-quantity runs,” she shared. “The coronavirus has hindered the eco-revolution in consumerism a bit, by causing an urgent need for plastics for PPE and hygiene-protective packaging. Frightened consumers may not see plastic as such a big evil in light of our current situation. Eventually, though, we’ll find a way to make those plastics both ecofriendly and affordable.”

The Packaging Source offers Thank You Labels
Thank You Labels from The Packaging Source.

It matters to Ford that her bags and boxes are made of unbleached, recycled materials that can be reused, recycled and composted. “Environmental responsibility has been part of our business plan from the beginning, in everything we do,” she shared. “I buy things because they’re beautiful and useful, and last a long time. We carry that message all the way through our business.”

That’s why, during the holidays, Gum Tree gives customers a custom organic-cotton tote bag for purchases over $100, from November 1 through Christmas Eve. In 2019, along with the store logo, the bags shouted, “Happy Everything!” Customers who return with it in January to fill again receive 20% off that purchase.

The Packaging Source giftwrap options
The Packaging Source offers an array of festive giftwrap options.

What a great way to show customers that you value them. Houseknecht is seeing a lot of gratitude from retailers, in their orders for special enclosure cards, labels and tags printed with “thank you.” He stated: “Business isn’t taken for granted anymore. Retailers appreciate every sale they make.”

And customers appreciate gift stores that have stayed open during the coronavirus, and that they’ll be able to go into once again. There’ll always be customers wanting that in-person interaction, but online shopping isn’t stopping. “Retailers working hard to find new ways to sell will come out stronger than ever,” Houseknecht said, especially when they maximize their gift wrapping and packaging.

Doing so does more than make sales. “It also sparks joy,” shared Dickson.

“So let’s lift each other up.” Houseknecht added. “And give the customer a memorable experience.”

That memory itself is yet one more gift they receive.

Claire Sykes

Claire Sykes is a freelance writer based in Portland, OR. She covers business, the arts, health and philanthropy for national magazines, companies and organizations. See

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