The Gifted Blog

February 17, 2011

Recycled Gift Wrap from Paper Tiger Shanghai

I was pleasantly surprised by an e-mail from the ladies behind Paper Tiger Shanghai, a small business that makes beautiful wrapping paper inspired by Chinese designs - traditional and new.

Lucy Young, Paper Tiger Shanghai's owner and designer, moved from New York to Shanghai in 2005. She writes, "I learned at a very young age that getting a beautifully wrapped gift and the anticipation of what was underneath that gift paper was just as exciting as the actual gift itself. I looked for paper in Shanghai...[but] unfortunately, what I came across were teddy-bears with bows and designs that were very, very western."

Lucy cringed at the thought of giving her U.S. friends gifts from China that looked like they'd been purchased at the Target down the street. "I knew I wasn't the only one with this same problem," she says, "so I decided to create my own collection of Chinese contemporary gift paper that would reflect China’s rich art and design history, but with a modern twist."

Lucy and her cousin Christine kindly sent some Paper Tiger Shanghai gift wrap for me to review. It came just in time for Valentine's! They sent two designs I admired, Spring and Art Deco Gold.

They came folded in a sturdy envelope for protection. At first, I was a little concerned about the creases (the sheets are folded in quarters), but in wrapping small gifts it didn't matter much. For those of you who like the idea of coordinating gift wrap but don't trust yourself to do the matching, I love that this gift wrap is reversible.

I got out the goodies for my Valentine: an Aztec Iced Chocolate mix from the shop and a pair of hot-chocolates-on-a-stick from The Ticket Kitchen. (Notice a pattern?)

I made an improvised gift bag for the hot chocolate sticks (tutorial to come!) and slipped them in.

I creased the top...

then placed a big circle of the contrasting gift wrap to secure it. The paper is too pretty to just use one side. Plus, this hid some of my untidy edges!

I wrapped the iced chocolate mix and made a 'bow tie' for the top with two strips of gift wrap. This is a quick gift wrapping idea for any wrapping paper, but I especially liked how you can see both sides of the reversible gift wrap this way!

Lucy writes, "The Chinese custom of gift wrapping is still fairly new. It’s more common to give money in red envelopes than to give a gift. I think that’s why you don’t see Chinese-inspired gift paper as much as you see Japanese-inspired paper. In my own small way, I’m trying to change that!" I really like that, as a Chinese-American, she is able to take what is seen as a Western tradition in China and actually make it more Chinese.

Visit the Paper Tiger Shanghai Etsy shop for more Chinese-inspired gift wrap! And if you'd like to incorporate this beautiful gift wrap into your own gift wrapping practice, use the coupon code RABBIT for 20% off your entire order. Code is valid through February 19th.

Are there any Chinese or Chinese-American readers who want to give a shout out? I'd love to hear your thoughts about culture and gift wrapping.

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{Images 2 & 3 via Paper Tiger Shanghai}


  1. These are both simply gorgeous. I always admire when people see a need that is unmet in the marketplace and then go out and create something new to fill it!

  2. @Kelly - Hi there! Yes, aren't they? The print is high-quality and it was a joy to use the paper. I am with you in your admiration of people filling unmet needs. I've said before I'm not much of an entrepreneur, and this is a skill I could definitely learn more about.

  3. I am one of the proud recipients of the Lucy/Itsy
    papers. The quality is excellent and difficult to part with once you have it. But what a treat for some lucky gift receiver. All I can say is the gift underneath might be faced with some heavy competition on the outside.

  4. @Tina Tankka - Yes, this is beautiful gift wrap - as you've seen first hand! It would make a very special presentation for a wedding or graduation gift when you want to show special honor for the gift recipients' heritage.

  5. I would admit that it's really not part of our culture to wrap gifts nicely. I have seen so many gifts that were carried in a random unrelated ugly plastic bag from another store. Honestly I think it has to do with how tight our wallets are. I rarely see gifts with anything that would cause an added expense- a card, a bow, or wrapping paper. A lot of times we just give each other food items that don't need to be wrapped.

    But anyway I'm very encouraged to see that it's possible to be Chinese and have some class!

  6. @Sam Phang - Sam!! Great to hear from you! Thank you for your observations. In interviewing Lucy I realized I don't actually have that much knowledge about Chinese gift-giving customs. (Though, as you may know, my experience with Taiwanese-American gift-giving is documented here.)

    I appreciate how Lucy is bridging Chinese and American values (and aesthetics) with her gift wrap. It makes me think of the specific perspective Asian-Americans have to offer by being able to see 'both sides'.

  7. I´ve never seen them before,thanks a lot for your post. Here you can also find Creative & Ecological wrapping paper, hope you like it, too!

  8. hi i am hanaa from saudi arabia .i love your site.please help me .my best friend her birthday come soon and i did not how to wrap a gift, i am bad in such thing .i already have black box and i want to add orange color .help me??.

  9. @hanaa - Great to hear from you! How about using some beautiful orange ribbon or a strip of orange cloth to make the bow? You could also glue orange paper to the top of the gift and add a photo of you and your best friend.

    Just a couple of small ideas. Good luck!

  10. Oh wow, that is stunning paper, and you have used it beautifully. Thank you for linking up with my #ShowMeYourStationery post I'm delighted to have been introduced to your wonderful blog.

  11. @Molly and the Princess - Isn't it beautiful? I really appreciate this line of wrapping paper. Thanks so much for your comment - I enjoyed visiting your blog and hope you enjoy the gift wrap you featured!


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