The Gifted Blog

July 30, 2010

Reader Question: Gift Wrapping Around the World

"I'd love to learn more about different cultures' approaches to gift wrapping. I've really been enjoying the bits about your trip to Japan. How about in Russia though? Indonesia? Peru? How do they gift wrap there?"     --Sarah :) 

Sarah, thanks for writing in! After reading this friend's response about the role of aesthetic attention in Thai culture, this question has been on my mind, too. Wouldn't it be fun to do a series on gift wrapping around the world?

Since I'm no expert, I leave it to you, my international and/or well-traveled readers! How are gifts wrapped in other cultures? You don't have to be an authority on the subject, just report what you know! Sarah and I are curious to read your thoughts.

{Images by Marco Bellucci and danagraves}


  1. I don't know much about Chinese gift-wrapping, in general (mostly, I think, people tend to follow Western trends these days).

    However, in my family, whenever we give gifts of jewelry, it's always been in this kind of little silk pouch:

    (in prettier fabrics, of course, and better-made than the ones shown).

    We also tend to give a lot of monetary gifts (Chinese people like giving money for some reason). And for those we always use hong bao, or red envelopes, which can have a million different kinds of designs on the front depending on where you get them (usually, though, they're vertical and very bright red and rectangular, often with gold embossing of some sort).

  2. Thanks for the lovely gift hard holder! It arrived yesterday. It probably makes me uber selfish but I am thinking it would also make a fab business card holder.

  3. Hi, just stumbled upon your blog and read this interesting question. In India we do give gifts during weddings, birthdays, and also during festivals. In some parts of the country, you get special decorative envelopes which also include a one rupee coin stuck in it already-- since we don't believe in giving round figures in cash - it will always be something like 101 or 501 or 1001 rupees... You get a whole range of beautiful decorative envelopes for this. My mother likes to make her own envelopes with small mirrors, beads and sequins and the use of glitter pens or paint. Often little graphic illustration of auspicious symbols like Om or Gods like Ganesha are also present on these envelopes. Besides this, larger gifts like sweet boxes or fruit baskets are wrapped in a variety of ways including wrapping with paper or transparent plastic sheets and then put in a bag perhaps. LAtely with the interest in non-plastic gift wrapping options, people increasingly go in for a bags and small pouches made of handmade paper, jute, silk or organza. They are not very cheap, but they come in handy as they can be reused to keep other things like jewellery etc. They come in a variety of sizes and qualities, and in large markets you often have special shops that cater to wedding packaging since lots of gifts are given during weddings. I usually keep a whole stock of jute bags and pouches to pack things in a jiffy. Lately, tired of the standard birthday wrapping paper available in shops, I have begun making my own to wrap gifts for my son's friends - brown paper stamped with rubber stamps in white paint, with matching cards and the whole thing wrapped in sisal or jute string. It is really a relief to see this simple colour combination. - Best wishes from India, Namitha

  4. @silverkeys - Thank you so much for your family gift-giving stories!

    @Namitha - This is great information, most of which is new to me. Thank you! I would love to see the envelopes that your mom makes; they sound so cool. If you have a chance, please send me a photo: giftedmailbox(at)!

  5. Everyone, I wanted to add that Namitha wrote a great post in response to this question. See her take on gift wrapping in India here on her blog!


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