Anticipation claims a good fifty percent of the enjoyment of receiving a gift. Peeling away a colourful sheath to reveal hidden treasure will capture even the most seasoned adult’s attention. Watch children at Christmastime tear open long-awaited santa deliveries, immersed in the thrill of expectation.

Despite the profusion of sophisticated giftwrap and the related trimmings available, I find brown paper parcels particularly appealing. Maybe this links back to a time before postpacks, when parcels were sent in the mail securely wrapped for the journey in their crisp brown coatings and neutral twine lacing.  Ours usually arrived addressed in the unmistakable curled handwriting of my grandmother, and I knew to expect some new ‘woollens’, a newsy letter and a lovely soft toy upon opening.

Moving into 2012, plain paper and string strikes a sustainability chord. No inks or bleach and fresh flowers that will eventually be returned to the earth, sits well with me.

If you arm yourself with a few rolls brown paper and a large ball of twine, this will serve as your gift wrapping kit, to cover all ages, occasions and gender. Look to your garden for the finishing touches – herbs, flowers, autumn leaves and pods – to personalise your package that will be eagerly anticipated.

Postscript: if you ‘garnish’ your gifts in other ways – do tell!