How to Wrap a Present like it’s 1917

hi i'm julia hood and i'm the manager of school and family learning at reynolda house museum of american art here with a pop-up studio to show us how to wrap presents the way that people would have been wrapping presents in america in the early 1900s the same time that the reynolds family moved into reynolda i'll show you what you need to wrap presents in this way and how to do it the reynolds family first moved into reynolda right before christmas in 1917. we know that giving gifts to family friends employees and people in need was an important way that the family celebrated christmas the reynolds children would make presents to give at christmas when mr reynolds was sick in the hospital in baltimore right before christmas of 1917 his daughter nancy reynolds wrote him a letter dear daddy i hope you were lots better you know it is only three weeks till christmas and you must hurry and come home we are going in swimming this morning we have such a good time in the pool we are making christmas presents now i am so glad i can knit i want santa claus to bring me a bicycle for christmas hugs and kisses love from nancy reynolds we don't know if nancy might have wrapped the gifts she made but 1917 was a year that changed gift wrap one of the wright brothers took this photo in their house in dayton ohio around 1900 and it shows how presents were commonly wrapped at the time in tissue paper with string or ribbon gift givers might have used white green or red tissue paper or newspaper or plain brown paper in 1917 the hall brothers in their store in kansas city missouri ran out of tissue paper right before the holiday they found some fancy french paper that they used for lining envelopes in their greeting cards and they put those for sale for wrapping gifts people loved the patterned paper as gift wrap and they sold out so then the next year they ordered again and sold out again soon the hall brothers started to make their own patterned paper to sell for gift wrap and today we know their company as hallmark if you want to wrap a present the way the reynolds would likely have wrapped them in 1917 you'll need either some tissue paper or plain brown paper you can also use the unprinted side of a paper grocery bag you'll need scissors and some twine or ribbon the challenge for wrapping in 1917 was that scotch tape had not been invented and wouldn't be until 1930 so you had to use string or twine to secure the paper around your gift people would also have used sealing wax which is a kind of wax that you would heat up and melt to hold paper in place like on the back of an envelope but that's less common to use these days so i'm just going to use ribbon i will fold the tissue around the box the way we fold wrapping paper today but we'll only use ribbon to hold it in place i wrapped two layers of white tissue paper around my box here i'm folding the end over just to put the edge in the middle of the box but you don't need to do that with a box this shape you could easily just gather the tissue paper at the ends and tie a ribbon around each end or we can fold down the top and then the sides to tuck the extra neatly along the short end of the box the ends will temporarily fly up here while you get your ribbon or string ready cut a generous length of ribbon and find the middle place the box top side down over the ribbon and pull the extra tissue paper to the box as you bring the ribbon up to meet in the middle catch the right ribbon with the left as you turn the left down and the right up to then go up the sides as you flip the box over tie a knot and then a bow to hold your wrapping paper in place and complete your wrapping if you have a wide ribbon like this you can fold it in half and cut a triangle to make an upside down v at the each end of your ribbon have fun wrapping find more videos helpful downloads and other resources at the reynolda at home page on www.reynoldahal

Manager of School and Family Learning Julia Hood shares how to wrap presents like people used to in the early 1900s. Katharine and R.J. Reynolds along with their four children actually moved into the bungalow right before Christmas in 1917. Every year, the Reynolds family would gift presents to family, friends, and people in need.

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