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Wrap Star

About this time, many will find themselves seated amid a mountain of thoughtfully selected gifts.

The unimaginative will have scissors, tape and red, green or gold wrapping paper close at hand as they prepare to tackle the problem of disguising objects in paper.

But you can escape Yuletide boredom this season. You don't have to be the Andy Warhol of gift wrap, but don't be a cliche -- make your gifts really stand out with careful wrapping.

Dressing up presents in holiday finery did not catch on until fairly recently.

Gifts used to be wrapped in plain tissue or brown paper; it wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that the gift-wrap industry exploded, with the first American gift-wrap company, Hy-Sil Manufacturing, opening in 1903, and the reigning king of the wrapping and greeting card world, Hallmark, launching in 1917.

Once out of the dark ages, styles went from art deco in the 1930s to more realistic artwork with pop culture tie-ins during the '60s and '70s, to the slick styles we know today.

On a Roll

Even with modern gift wrapping's short history, a fresh look is always desired -- so here are a few small companies that are really thinking outside the box.

Olive Paper's popular "mod holiday" collection makes your presents come alive with style. Its high-quality paper ensures coverage and fewer rips. Cutter rolls, which contain enough paper for more than 40 gifts, are available for about $40.

The Web site was launched in September of this year in response to what creative director Nina Interlandi Bell calls a void in the gift wrap market: "I always spent a lot of time wrapping my gifts individually and people used to go gaga. Now I finally have a place to tell people to go [for creative gift wrap]."

While the folks at Olive Paper encourage self-expression, you can also order coordinated wrap combinations for about $30 a set. The "A La Carte" and "Extras" sections let you accessorize to your heart's content, such as with metal D-rings that make any ribbon look like a belt.

The Stationery Studio takes it even farther, with wrapping paper and ribbon personalized with message of your choice. "It's a really fast-paced world, and people like when [someone] takes the time to put their name on something," says owner Renee Redman.

The selection is staggering; try putting your name on its new "Peppermint Dreams" gift wrap ($32.95 for a 12-foot roll).

Ellen Elfering and Jean Orlebeke, co-owners of Eieio, are graphic designers who cater to the most discerning fashionistas.

"We wanted to design wrapping paper for people for people who [appreciate] aesthetic design like us," says Elfering. "The world in general has become a lot more design-savvy ... with the likes of Target (TGT) including design collections."

Eieio's Bond/Red Paper

Picky about quality, the pair went to a commercial offset-lithography printer for designs that look almost silk-screened.

Currently, Eieio has 34 designs available and is always adding something new. Elfering keeps an eye on the fashion world, particularly what's hot in colors and textures.

This year, according to Elfering, there's a lot of flourish designs and a trend toward true colors that are rich and bold.

Check out its popular "Plummy" and "Sugar Plum" designs ($5 a sheet) at retail paper stores such as Kate's Paperie, or online.

Choose with care -- as Elfering and Orlebeke remind us, "In no uncertain terms, you are the paper you wrap with."

To view Annika Mengisen's video take of today's Good Life segment, click here.

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