One of the things that I always thought was cool while living in Japan was the method that the department stores would use to wrap gifts. They wrap the gift with the paper on an angle, tucking the excess paper in as they go and the final result requires only a single piece of tape at the end. It always looks quite elegant and I would watch amazed as the department store clerks would beautifully wrap up something I bought so quickly and efficiently.
With one of my friends moving to Chicago I bought her a little book about the town as a going away gift and thought it would be fun to wrap in a Chicago map. I've been meaning to try to wrap something Japanese Department Store style and this seemed like a good opportunity.
I had seen it done a ton of times so I thought it wouldn't be hard but it is definitely a little more difficult than it looks. I tried it out with a scrap piece of paper before I wrapped it for real with the map and I am glad that I did. Getting the right angle and making sure the paper is big enough to cover your gift, but not so big that you have too much excess paper to tuck in is a little tricky. I think with a little practice it would be fairly simple to get the hang of though.
To wrap the gift place it in the bottom right corner of your paper at an angle so that you can fold a small amount of the corner of the paper over the bottom of the gift. Next, fold the paper over the right side of the gift, tucking in the excess paper at the corner so the paper lays flat.
Once you have the bottom and right side folded over, you flip the gift over itself on the table, tucking in excess paper on the right as you go. Now the gift is mostly covered with paper flaps still remaining on the left and top. Fold the left side over the gift, tucking in the excess paper and the finish by folding down the top over the gift. The wrapping paper can now be secured with a single piece of tape on the top flap. I finished my gift off by adding a handmade Bon Voyage card and some baker's twine with a bow.
I am happy at how my first try at Japanese Department Store gift wrapping came out and I'll have to try it again. If you are curious how the experts do it, here is a video of a lady slowly explaining how to wrap a gift (it's in Japanese but you can see how it is done) and here is a video of an Isetan Department Store Clerk in action wrapping a gift. Pretty neat, don't you think?