The history behind wrapping paper, and how it became a holiday tradition

Americans spend $2.6 billion on wrapping paper a year

People spend so much time and money on gift wrapping. But why do we do it, and how did wrapping paper become what is today?

It is estimated that Americans spend $2.6 billion on wrapping paper a year.

That’s a lot of money towards something that will just be ripped off.

But the tradition of concealing gifts started a long time ago.

Wrapping gifts date back to the 1600s in Japan with Furoshiki, a traditional wrapping cloth.

In the west, using paper as a covering for gifts has been a longstanding, if largely luxury-oriented, practice.

Upper-class Victorians regularly used elaborately decorated paper, along with ribbons and lace to conceal gifts.

In the early 20th century, tissue paper became popular and people began wrapping gifts with it.

Around that time stores began wrapping goods in manila paper.

Then in 1917, a pair of brothers running a stationary store in Kansas City, Missouri were having such a successful holiday season, they sold out of the standard tissue paper.

In its replacement they put out the fancier paper used for the inside of envelopes.

People loved the idea and that also sold out.

That’s how ornate wrapping paper was invented.

The brothers then began producing and selling their own wrapping paper in 1919.

Those brothers were Joyce and Rollie hall. Their store? Hallmark. I guess you can say an industry was born.

About the Authors

Gretchen Nowroozi was born and raised in Houston. She started working at KSAT as an intern in 2019 after graduating from Michigan State University. She is a producer for Good Morning San Antonio.

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

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