Martha Stewart, the grand exalted queen of all things household, and several other experts offer gift-wrapping tips.
• If you've got an awkwardly shaped present that's not too huge -- hammer, hatchet, a piece of sculpture, bunch of bananas -- find a box to put it inside, then wrap it.
• If the gift is long and narrow -- golf club, baton, umbrella, javelin -- use empty paper towel tubes, mailing tubes, even PVC pipe to disguise it.
• For round items, add a top and bottom -- say foamcore -- and wrap poster board around the gift, like a hat box, then tape, glue or staple it together.
• If the gift is too big and bulky -- bicycle, surfboard, kayak, 72-inch flatscreen TV -- then don't wrap it. Keep it hidden until Christmas morning, then stick a big bow on it and roll, carry or drag it into the room so you can see the expression on the recipient's face.
Chattanooga's Kids on the Block gift-wrapping stations in Hamilton Place will be open through Christmas Eve until 6 p.m. The upstairs booth is located across from the Tourist Information Center by Sears and the downstairs booth is in front of JC Penney. The organization has provided a holiday gift-wrapping service to Chattanooga shoppers for 29 years.
The golf club just sat there in front of Pat Stewart, taunting her, daring her to figure out a way to disguise it in Christmas wrapping paper so it wouldn't look just like a golf club.
"First, I taped a sleeve of golf balls to the club so it made it sort of look like a candy cane," says Stewart, of Chattanooga. "I used newspaper, cardboard and tape around it to try to complete the candy-cane shape. Then I used red and white paper to finish off the look. It was a shameful candy cane but it didn't look like a golf club either."
It's a common challenge around the world come Christmastime -- not every gift comes in an easy-to-wrap cardboard box. What do you do with that hammer so it isn't sitting under the Christmas tree telegraphing "Hey, I'm a nicely wrapped hammer"?
And what if you're wrapping a gigantic present, say, a motorcycle?
That's the task that recently faced Megan Young, a controller assistant at Pandora European Motorsports on Highway 58. She and a coworker spent two days wrapping a BMW motorcycle to display in the dealership showroom.
"We wrapped every little piece," she says. "We bought the biggest rolls of wrapping paper we could find, and we ended up using three rolls and a ton of tape. The bike was displayed on a center stand so we were able to wrap the tires, too. Honestly, it was a lot of work."
Then, just days after the motorcycle was wrapped, it sold, she says.
"Unwrapping it was almost as hard as wrapping it," she says.
Kelly Williams, Chattanooga's Kids on the Block executive director, says her organization's annual gift-wrapping service at area malls routinely presents wrapping challenges.
"We have been asked to wrap everything from a garbage can to a fishing pole -- 'I don't want it to look like a fishing pole,' is what one customer requested -- and lawn mower," she says.
Other requests have included a piano, "intimate" toys, 60-inch TV, patio grill and flower arrangements, Williams says, noting that they always get the job done. The biggest challenge of wrapping an oddly shaped gift, especially for a "professional" wrapper, is creasing the corners, Williams says.
"We want all of our packages to look as beautiful as possible, and we train our volunteers as well as staff to crease edges, fold raw edges, use tape appropriately and finish with lots of ribbon and bows," she says. "We want our customers to be happy with the looks of their gifts.
And if they're not, the process begins anew.
"If our customers are not happy with the final package, we will start over and wrap it again until they are satisfied," she says. "Closer to Christmas Day, we do have lines at our booths and we try to wrap as quickly as possible, but we do not want anyone to leave unhappy, so it might take us a little longer."
Chattanoogan Renee Thomas recalls trying to come up with a way to not only wrap a twirling baton for her sister's Christmas present, but in a way that she could ship it through the mail.
"I ended up using a (blueprints) tube from the architectural school where I was studying nursing, and then I had to mail it to Texas," she says.