I can be a minimalist. There’s almost nothing I like better than organizing things for disposal. I like to give away books (to friends, to the library); I like to give away clothing I haven’t worn for a while. I love to reuse cardboard boxes that come in the mail – to organize items for travel, to use for a gift box – and then to recycle them. I resent “wasting” money on gift packaging, preferring to reuse what I’ve received. I love using leftover yarn as ribbon and I have used newspaper once or twice to wrap a gift even recently. Yet there is some packaging that I cannot bring myself to reuse or recycle.
It’s well-designed and carries sweet memories, and I can’t bear to part with it, even though I detest clutter.
I cannot part with….
Over the years, I’ve received a few Tiffany gifts. Great-Aunt Jane and Great-Uncle Chuck gave us crystal candleholders for our wedding, and I’ve thought of them and recalled our wedding day each time we use them. More recently, Delta Airlines has been giving Tiffany Gift Cards as an option for their Diamond Medallion members as a year-end perk. Smart choice: For the frequent business traveler, give the wife something sparkly to distract her from your absence.
Tiffany packages everything as a gift — the gift card has its flat box and white ribbon and then the item it purchases gets its own box and ribbon. Each step in the chain brings more white-ribbon-wrapped Robin’s egg blue boxes, a series of gift experiences. The boxes are lovely and I enjoy the whole experience, even though the boxes (especially the ones for the gift cards) become immediately useless. Reusing them seems out of the question. It would be such a let down – to receive something that’s not Tiffany in a Tiffany box! Yet, I have a difficult time tossing them. So they pile up, and I try to use them for special items, like the puff of our sweet cat Floyd‘s fur I found behind the couch, years after he passed away.
Stella & Dot Boxes
When you go to a Stella and Dot party (my neighbor had one, a colleague of mine at work had another), you can order jewelry and it will be delivered to your home. Like Tiffany, each item is packaged as a gift, and the items I’ve purchased have been for me, so a couple of gift boxes hang around after I start wearing the jewelry. The boxes are colorful and printed with nice patterns, and they have a couple of steps to open them (a paper case that slips off before you can open the box).
The Stella and Dot boxes sat around and I could not reuse them (again, it would be strange to give it without Stella and Dot inside). Eventually, I summoned the courage to pull them apart and recycle them. It took a while.
The box for Gerla Chocolates
In Turin, Gerla makes wonderful hazelnut-chocolates (gianduiotti) that Dave brings back from his trips to Italy. Similar to the Delta gift of a Tiffany gift card, I think this tradition started through the canny wisdom of his distributor colleague there – give a gift to keep the wife amused while the husband is in Italy. The Gerla boxes are a strange shape: kind of semi-rounded with squared edges. And I’ve taken to reusing them for knitting supply storage (needles, notions) because, again, I simply cannot toss them.
Wrapping for Gifts from Japan
The wrapping pinnacle is Japanese packaging – special bottles of sake and special cakes have made it home from Japan tucked in Dave’s luggage. Each item is perfectly wrapped in many layers. Typically a printed cloth or paper surrounds a lightweight perfectly fitted blonde-wood box surrounding another layer of insulation (or custom cut wood inserts) surrounding the present. Because neither we nor most of our gift recipients read Japanese, these items are easier to reuse. I use the paper or the cloth to line drawers or shelves and the boxes get repurposed for Christmas gift boxes.
Great Wrapping extends the Gift
When I encounter the wrapping, a decorative liner underneath my cosmetics in their drawer, knitting needles stuffed into a Gerla box, special treasures safely tucked inside Robin’s egg blue boxes, I remember the gift, the giver, and re-experience a positive feeling about the brand. Well done, Tiffany, Stella and Dot, and Gerla designers for attractive packaging that makes the gift last.