Wrapped in love

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

With every piece of ribbon, peacock feather and sheet of wrapping paper, Rocci Sunbury shows her friends and loved ones how much she cares.

Sunbury is a 62-year-old retired reading specialist for Columbus Public Schools who is known amongst friends as the ultimate gift wrapper. She uses found items-from wallpaper samples to antique baubles to fresh flowers-to create unique and strikingly adorned gifts.

"Buying the gift is only the first step," she said. "[Great wrapping] shows people that you spent a little more effort on their gift. People really do seem to appreciate it."

Sunbury, who lives in Columbus, sometimes draws inspiration from the recipient's interests: For a pet lover, for example, she'll stencil paw prints on paper or tie a dog treat into a bow. Or, she'll take ideas from the gift itself, artfully arranging corks around a fine bottle of wine or adhering golf tees to enhance a wrapped putter.

The season also influences Sunbury's creations. For a winter wine, she might create a cardboard sleeve for the bottle and ornament it with pinecones and evergreens.

All year, she keeps an eye out for stamps, ribbons, candies, cinnamon sticks, heavy-duty boxes and wallpaper sample books-anything that she can use to adorn her gifts. "I go to Michaels or Jo-Ann's," she said. "The Target dollar bin has been a great place to find things for children's gifts. And Old Time Pottery has great things, too."

But her elaborate wrapping can have a downside as well: A gift she wrapped for a girlfriend once went missing at a party when the caterer mistook it for a cake and put it out to be served, Sunbury said.

And yes, Sunbury admits, her panache for specialty wrappings gives her away during Secret Santa exchanges. But she hopes that recipients of her gifts enjoy what's inside as well as the wrapping. "They know," she said, "it's something special."

Great Gift Wrapping TIPS

  • Solid wrapping paper colors work best with prominent adornments like bows or flowers.
  • Pick up items that interest you year-round, even if you don't know what you'll use them for. A use will present itself later.
  • A bunch of balloons makes a great adornment for a gift so big that it makes creating a specialty bow difficult.
  • Reuse elements from past seasonal or holiday decorations.
  • Find boxes strong enough to support a tight wrapping; Sunbury recommends Ralph Lauren's boxes.