When we say “gift-wrapping expert,” we know the only person you can picture is your mom. And while we’re sure she’s just as good as she tells the neighbors, we’ve actually found a real expert on how to wrap gifts perfectly. Like, the kind who works with Royals, high-end fashion labels and celebs. So, sorry, Mom.
Jane Means is a UK native with a passion for all things pretty, and back in 1995, she made her gift-wrapping dreams a reality by launching her very own gift-wrapping company. She went on to become an advisor for labels like Dior, and to train the staff of the Royal Household. (Yeah, you read that right.) Today, her gift-wrapping team works with a client list that includes Chanel, Tory Burch and Victoria Beckham. If you’re not convinced of her status by now, just read her damn website, because the list. Goes. On.
When we asked Means about the coolest project she ever worked on, her response blew our minds. Early on in her career, she’d been wrapping for a book launch in the the UK. “It was clearly a very expensive book…it had gold etchings on the pages, and it was leather-bound.”
That’s when she saw a very important-looking lady walk into the room. “She looked immaculate,” Means recalled. The woman thanked her for the book, and informed her that she’d be bringing it to Buckingham Palace. Later on, Means found out that the ‘important-looking’ woman was, in fact, Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting. Her reaction: “I was just glad she told me after I’d wrapped it, and not before!”
Needless to say, we’re obsessed with Jane Means, and we’re obsessed with her work (as are the Royals, and everyone else on the A-list). And since the holidays have finally rolled around (we’ve waited, like, a year), we’ve recently found ourselves facing the age-old dilemma of being genuinely horrible at gift-wrapping. Thankfully, Means has saved Christmas by teaching us how to wrap gifts perfectly—through a handful of simple tips.
So if you want your presents to look as shamazing on the outside as they are on the inside, scroll on. Your holiday wish has been granted.
Tip #1: It’s the Little Things
According to Means, “attention to detail” is paramount when wrapping your gifts. Eyes on the prize, people! You do want these things looking Insta-worthy by Christmas, don’t you?
Tip #2: Measure Your Paper
Means says that one of the biggest mistakes people make when they go to wrap gifts is that they use way too much paper. She recommends measuring it before you actually begin the process, so as to avoid a “bulky” appearance. The same goes for ribbon: “I almost pretend as if I’m going to actually tie the ribbon before I cut it.” That way, you don’t use too much or too little.
Tip #3: Use Double-Sided Tape
Double-sided tape is a major key if you want your prezzies to look gorge. Obviously, it’s sticky on both sides—so you can use it between the layers of paper, instead of putting ugly-looking Scotch tape all over the outside of the gift (which totally distracts from its gorgeousness).
Tip #4: Use Double-Sided Fabric Ribbon
Wait, that exists? (Was our first question.) Means insists that it does—and the name simply refers to ribbon that’s decorated on both sides. For example, if a ribbon is matte on one side, and glossy on the other, it’s definitively not double-sided, and should therefore be banished from your gift-wrapping toolbox (which you obviously have).
She also tells us, “I mostly work with fabric ribbon, not really anything with plastic in it,” because plastic-y ribbons aren’t very cooperative.
Tip #5: Use Flexible Papers
“With awkward shapes I always use flexible wrapping, such as tissue, cellophane, crepe paper…plus fabric and paper tablecloths,” Means says. They work better than traditional wrapping paper for items with rounded edges or difficult corners.
Tip #6: Crease the Edges
If you’ve ever seen your mom sliding two pinched fingers down the edge of a newly-wrapped package, she must’ve picked up the tip from our very own Wrapping Royalty. Means loves a creased edge—it gives your gifts the “finished” look they deserve. (Plus, it’s super profesh. We’d bet nobody else at the gift swap creased their edges.)
Tip #7: Disguise the Overlaps
When wrapping a gift, it’s totally normal to have a little excess paper (although measuring your paper beforehand can help you avoid too much waste). Thus, there’s usually a spot where it overlaps. Means says she usually tries to “disguise” the intersections of her wrapping paper by strategically placing them “on an edge, instead of in the center” of a package.
Tip #8: Embellish it!
“Some kind of embellishment goes a long way,” Means asserts. In fact, she says it’s “arguably the most important part” of the gift-wrapping experience. Even the simplest of papers and ribbons can be totally elevated by a delicate twig, flower or piece of tinsel. And one look at her Instagram account proves she’s a woman of her word.
When we spoke, Means was in the midst of setting up a pop-up shop and gift-wrapping service called “All Wrapped Up” in Belgravia, London. It’s open to the public through December 21, and is the perfect destination for any holiday-season travelers—just, you know, if you want to give her a shout.
A version of this story was originally published in December 2015.