As I may have mentioned, I will be in New York for Christmas this year. I will be there with my wonderful boyfriend and his family, but sadly, not my family.

So my family decided to have a Christmas dinner before we go. I wanted to get them unique gifts from the USA, but I thought it’d be nice to have something small to give them for our faux Christmas.

I love really pared back, simple wrapping. My mother is very traditional – shiny red, white and green. So I was first exposed to simple brown paper and raffia only a few years ago during one of my very best summer jobs, gift-wrapping at The Rocks, and I’ve loved this style since.

This year, I was inspired by my impending journey to New York. I wanted to play on the old-fashioned whimsy of a message in a bottle. I tried to find little glass bead bottles. These are surprisingly hard to come by these days – everything is plastic! However, I was lucky enough to stumble upon these enchanting 1800’s poison bottles at Junktique in Glebe.

The bottles cost me $5 each and were caked in thick clay and dirt when I got them. But their hand-blown quirkiness and art-deco reminiscent style was just perfect for my little project. I soaked them in water for a few days, then in Bicarb soda and white vinegar and finally I scrubbed them clean with a coarse paint brush that JUST fit inside… and they’ve come up simply sparkling!

I love the thought of re-imagining the words ‘NOT TO BE TAKEN‘ from poison, to a warning for gift peekers!



The next step was to print out some gorgeous old-style New York maps to A5 size and paint them with a tea bag (steeping in a splash of boiling water). This ages the paper and once dry will give it a rougher texture.

I bought a packet of varied coloured twine for $5, a roll of brown paper for $4 and a packet of simple deco cow bells for $2. I wrapped each gift box in brown paper and secured them with twine, finishing by tying on the bottles, threading the bells on to the twine and rolling up a scroll from the map to pop in as my message in a bottle.

The best bit? Your loved ones then have a gorgeous, antique glassware item to use as a bud vase if they wish!

Happiest of holidays to you and yours and best of luck with your wrapping. May it be inspired!

Thanks for reading The Nookbook.