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All wrapped up for Christmas.

Byline: Hilarie Stelfox ,

So, you've left it until Christmas Eve. You have a huge pile of presents and rolls of cheap gift-wrap, picked up in the market, two for pounds 1.

First up there's a soft toy with an unfeasibly long tail and a hug bulbous head. Then a tall bottle of bubble bath and a pyramid of chocolates. By the time you get to the box-shaped gifts you've run out of sticky tape and paper.

Sound familiar?

What you need is Arona Khan to pleat the tissue paper; make festive ribbon bows and generally take the strain out of all that Christmas gift wrapping.

Arona, who hails from Dublin, is an internationally recognised expert on gift-wrapping. Somewhat unbelievably she has made a career out of the fact that it is customary to wrap gifts in something pretty. She is a professional gift- wrapper. "Wrapping enhances the value of your gift; it also says that you have spent some time and trouble on it," she says.

One of her corporate clients is Marks & Spencer, whom she advises on pre-wrapped gifts. I caught up with her at a Christmas event in Manchester organised by M&S to promote their festive goods.

Arona has always been an arty, crafty sort of person and used to enjoy wrapping presents so much that in 1987 she wrote a book on the subject, Wrap it Up, which was printed in paperback and sufficiently successful to get her name noticed by retailers. It's now out of print but she's already established her reputation. "When you have written a book on the subject you are perceived as an expert. I began to work as a consultant for companies and independent retailers. Gift-wrapping is part of customer service. I've worked right across the USA and all over this country," she said.

Over the last 20 years there has been a shift in customer expectations. We are now prepared to spend money not just on a gift but on hand-made wrapping paper, ribbons and bows. Gift-wrapping is big business.

"It's important if you buy somebody the perfect gift to wrap it up nicely. You wouldn't put it in a paper bag, that would devalue the gift.

"But gift-wrapping doesn't have to be difficult or elaborate. You can use a ready-made gift bag and trim it with a hand-made bow.

"It shows you have taken the trouble," says Arona.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Dec 7, 2005
Words:399
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