“Controlled Chaos” this Holiday Season

I wrote recently about the special tricks I learned when I was starting out as a gift wrapper.

First- how to work in a sardine can sized wrap station. I learned that because I took over my son’s nursery when I started gift wrapping from my home. While I didn’t have a lot of supplies, I had one tiny closet to store everything.

So I got sucked into buying one of those over the door wrapping organizer.

Well that’s great if you have 2 or 3 rolls of paper, some pre-made bows and you have a small square spot on the floor to wrap.

That lasted about 6 months- and I was hard pressed to keep the stuff from spilling out the door and across the hall to my guest bedroom. I finally gave up and started using that room- except now everything had to be stored under the bed. And if guests came, I had to do a major overhaul of the room so they could use dresser drawers and hang their clothes up.

So that is when I was exiled to my basement. The good news- 3 times the space. The bad news- it’s a basement!

I got some plastic stacking shelves, clear plastic containers and some rolling racks that draftsmen stored their rolled up drawings in. Got a table from my parents’ basement, found a discounted desk chair at the local office supply and I was officially calling this space “My Studio”.

Fast forward to today- 6 years in our store and almost 12 years in “My Studio”.

I still use many of the first organizing tools I started with. The clear plastic containers hold backstock of ribbons sorted by color (we can see when we need to refill a color bin).  The same rolling racks now hold open rolls of wrapping paper upright.  We use the boxes that the rolled paper is shipped to us to store the backstock paper under the wrap station. I found a rolling shelf that can hold ribbons, sorted by color. Started with one- now have 6 of them. Small spaces utilized and many of the answers are multi purpose.

Customers comment on how everything is so organized. It happened because of that sardine can size room where the early “magic” happened. It has ended up (due to male displeasure at the scraps of paper, ribbon, baskets, shred, cellophane and the other miscellany that goes with wrapping gifts) in me opening a retail store in a space that was formerly a sign shop.

The most perfect table and undercounter storage existed- the rest of the place was a wreck.  But I could see what “magic” could be created with a little fix here and there.

I never in my wildest imagination would have ever guessed that we would outgrow the space.

But we have. So we are very good at organization. We now have two off-site storage spaces. The bathroom becomes the shipping department at the Holiday time. My van is the mobile storage unit and the middle seats are taken out by mid-October and are returned by January. Cara is our tallest person- so she gets the job of stacking things and getting stuff down from high places.

As one of our favorite customers put it once- it is “controlled chaos”.

Oh, so true.


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