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The Art of Giving

At National Book Store’s extensive range of wrapping paper, note cards, ribbons, and holiday décor, seasoned stylist Rachy Cuna finds all the whimsy he needs to make his Christmas gifts extra special


By Alex Y. Vergara
Images by Pinggot Zulueta


Like a kid in a candy store, seasoned stylist Rachy Cuna had access to the latest collection of gift wrappers, ribbons, and bows at National Book Store (NBS). But trust Rachy to outdo himself by going beyond the usual, as he scoured the entire bookstore, including its Christmas décor section, in search of ideal holiday ornaments to make his wrapped gifts extra special.

“I was quite excited with National Book Store’s new and extensive range of gift wrappers, gift cards, and other materials for this Christmas season,” he said. “Their gift wrappers are classic yet fresh and very versatile.”

His efforts resulted in seven gift-wrapping styles he exclusively did for The Manila Bulletin. In typical Rachy Cuna fashion, he drew inspiration from certain go-to adjectives while allowing his imagination to run wild.

For his elegant look, Rachy chose a predominantly black gift wrapper with printed Christmas emblems in traditional as well as jewel tones. He finished off the look with gold accents in the form of mesh ribbon and a spray of sprigs.

“The golden sprigs are from NBS’s décor section,” he shared. “Using black gift wrapper accented with either gold or silver has become acceptable nowadays. In fact, if done well, it looks quite elegant.”


For his second look, he went a bit minimalist by using the reverse side of a polka dotted gold gift wrapper. From afar, the material appeared off-white, but upon closer inspection, the wrapper managed to retain faint traces of polka dots.

“I went for white because I was looking for a way to make the red ribbon and bell-shaped clips to pop out,” he explained. “Incidentally, I again sourced the bells from National Book Store’s Christmas décor section.”

Rachy also went for the Russian look, as he incorporated red and gold Christmas wrapper with red ribbon. Instead of using a bow, he used a pointy tipped Christmas ball that reminded him, he said, of Russian baroque architecture so prevalent in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

“When it comes to wrapping presents for the holidays, there are no more rules,” he said. “Of course, the end result should be visually pleasing. That’s why it helps to examine the range of available materials first before you even begin to buy. Chances are, you’d get plenty of ideas after doing a thorough inspection of available items.”

During his recent trip to NBS, for instance, he chanced upon a round transparent jar fashioned in Santa Claus’ likeness. All he needed to do to come up with an ideal candy jar was add pieces of green Japanese paper into the mix to make the packaging look more Christmas-y.

“Candy is just a suggestion,” said Rachy with a laugh. “You could use this jar to give a loved one, say, a watch or precious jewelry. The look is very whimsical.”

Rachy also did a modernist, if Mondrian-like take on giftwrapping using a predominantly green wrapper with linear and geometric details to wrap a coffee table book. Again, in lieu of a bow, he used a white holiday décor in the shape of a miniature Christmas tree. He also went golden by pairing gold ribbon with printed gold gift wrapper and a repurposed element originally meant as a fancy pendant.

“The gold-colored pendant is from my personal collection,” he said. “Remember, there are no rules. Adding rare, hard-to-find pieces to your Christmas packaging also makes them more unique and personalized.”

One of the most radical styles he did involved a ready-made polka dotted blue box, a bigger version of the one McDonald’s and Jollibee use for their apple and peach-mango pies, respectively. The gift box is also available at NBS. He then paired it with a tangle of malleable, gold-colored craft wire and, presto, “you now have the perfect box for your iPhone X present,” he said.

“Don’t be limited by what is readily available,” he added. “Use your imagination in putting things together. I go as far as hardware and garden stores in search of possible materials. But most of all, don’t forget the entire point of the exercise, which is to enjoy the process. It would be readily seen by the recipient in the way you wrap your gift.”

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