The Critical 'I'

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Thursday, December 25, 2003

SPRAY-ON GIFT WRAPPING
I'm not wild about gift wrapping. Mainly because I'm inept at it. I've been told often enough by gift-wrapping mavens that it's such a fun activity, and gives you a chance to be creative, and all that jazz. All I can say is, that's a crock. As far as my application of it is concerned, of course.

Take note that this distaste for wrapping presents doesn't translate into a dislike for the presents themselves. I enjoy buying and giving gifts for holidays and other special occasions about as much as the next guy. I enjoy receiving them just as much. But the wrapping thing--just not my bag, baby.

In years past, when I zapped through the malls for gifts, I'd often take advantage of the gift-wrapping services offered onsite. I especially went for it when they were charity- and donation-based. But as I get older, I find I have even less patience for the mall environment (this coming from a former mallrat). Plus, all the online shopping I do puts a crinkle in the wrapping option. Sites like Amazon typically offer wrapping for a couple of extra bucks, but I have an unusual aversion to this, don't ask why. I guess if at least some of the money paid for the wrapping was to go to charity, I'd be more inclined to take the option (are you listening, Jeff Bezos?).

I have noticed that people who enjoy more artsy-craftsy type of projects are the same ones who get into gift wrapping. It's a natural connection, obviously. Again, I'm not into the arts and crafts thing; words are my expressive medium (for the most part), and you can't wrap a present with a dictionary.

This season, as I was going through my usual ham-handed wrapping methods--cutting too little wrapping paper, cutting too much, getting the wrong-sized gift box, mis-applying Scotch tape--it occurred to me that there has to be an easier way. This is 2003, for God's sake (almost 2004, even). If someone, somewhere, deemed seedless watermelon to be an important enough goal to reach, then an easier way to wrap gifts has to be under development.

I could just bitch about this and not offer up a solution. But in the spirit of giving, I'll share what I dreamt up: Spray-on gift wrap (or, if you prefer, wrapping in a can).

For now, this idea resides solely in my noggin--and now, on this blog, too. I haven't thought too hard about it beyong conceptually. But basically, it would work in a similar manner to spray-on snow or silly string: You get an aerosol can full of the stuff, aim at the gift, and after a coat or two, you have a fully-wrapped present! Slap on a bow and address tag to complete.

The details involve a lot of chemical-scientific stuff that I don't know much about: Which polymers to use to achieve the right texture, how to avoid toxicity, how the stuff would react with certain items like clothes, food, paper (actually, the solution to that last one would be to sell the spray can as a package, along with gift box, so you just put any loose gift items in a box and not have them come in direct contact with the spray).

The marketing for this will be key for success. As I mentioned, my feelings on gift wrapping are far from universal. In fact, I'd guess most people enjoy doing it, so this idea might not catch on with the general population. I'd think the target market for this would be: Male, youngish (12-35), time-saver, gadget-lovers. This could be positioned as the perfect holiday life-saver for holidays and birthdays.

Why post this sure-fire idea on the Web, and risk someone stealing it and making millions? For one thing, I don't have the background to really invent this stuff or make it fly. For another, the basic idea is already floating around, in a few different forms; so simply tossing the concept out there isn't exactly a groundbreaking revelation. So there.

Maybe this will come into being by next Christmas, so I'll be spared yet another frustrating gift-wrap session. Dare to dream.