Gift wrapping has a variety of origins, from the Japanese traditional cloth furoshiki, to the fine tissue papers of the Victorian upper class. Until the 1900’s, the most common Christmas paper was tissue paper in shades of white, green, and red.
The striped, glittery, decorative wrapping paper we know today has a surprisingly distinct origin – surprisingly, because it was invented by accident.
During Christmas of 1917, two brothers running a stationery store in Kansas City, Missouri, sold out of their standard tissue paper. While looking for a replacement in their supplies, they stumbled across a stack of “fancy French Paper,” a decorative paper meant to line envelopes.
After setting this in a case at ten cents a sheet, the paper sold out instantly. Surprised by this success, the brothers wondered if it was a fluke. They tried selling the fancy French paper for wrapping again that next Christmas. By 1919, the fancy wrapping paper proved to be a smashing success. The brothers began producing and selling their own brand of decorative printed paper, designed solely for gift wrapping. Thus decorative gift wrapping paper was born.
The brothers were named Joyce and Rollie Hall. And their store’s name? Hallmark.