Since she was old enough to write her first birthday/Christmas list, Kayla has been very good about making that list very specific. Part of it is her organized nature and the rest is that she knows that's the best way to get what yshe wants. And as she became more Internet savvy, the list usually included links to the requested item along with sizes and color preferences. I, for one, am grateful; no more guessing and getting the wrong thing/size/color. There was always enough on the list that I could pick and choose so there was still an element of surprise when she opened the packages.
This year, however, there were only a couple of things on the list. In some ways it's a reflection of the fact that she turned twenty but mostly it's because she wanted money. In fact, it was the first item on the list followed by please, please, please!!!! She wasn't being greedy; she had a purpose in mind. The members of her sorority are spending a week at the beach this summer and she has to pay for her room and expenses.
How could I turn down a request that included was punctuated by multiple exclamation points and a smiley face? The answer is I couldn't.
I didn't, however, want to eliminate the fun of the surprise when she opened her gift so I scoured the Internet for clever packaging ideas and came up with the plan to tape the bills together and make them pop out of a tissue box. Oh, if only money were so readily available in the real world.
The first step was to tape the bills together end to end. I raided my stash and came up with almost a dozen different patterns of washi tape, a repositionable art tape that would hold the money together but be easy to remove. See, you just never know when your scrapbooking supplies are going to come in handy. With my Coke can as an anchor, I set to work stringing the bills together.
The pooled up on the floor on the other side of the kitchen island then I rolled them all up. It's a little tricky as you have to pull a little to keep the roll tight but you can't pull hard on the tape or it comes apart.
Now to make it look like Kleenex. I taped two folded tissues together end to end using packing tape and then taped the bottom of the second one together with the same tape. I found the washi tape wouldn't stick to the tissue alone; it needed a more substantial surface and the packing tape gave it just enough substance. Plus, I needed to narrow the end of the tissue so it matched the dollar bills so they would "dispense" correctly.
I fastened the roll of money to the taped end of the tissue and put it all inside the Kleenex box which I had opened on the side. I was afraid if I just left it loose, it would unravel inside the box so I stuffed some craft paper under the roll, folding another sheet to put between the crumpled paper and the money roll so it would sit on a smooth surface as it unfurled. It wasn't hard to feed the end of the tissue through the opening and then fold the rest back on itself to cover up the money below. It looked just like regular Kleenex when I finished.
It just happened that this was the first package Kayla picked up when we were ready to open gifts, and she was actually happy when she discovered that it appeared to be Kleenex inside the wrapping. Or she was simply being nice. Brad, who was in on the joke, remarked that it was after all cold and flu season and Melissa, who was as much in the dark as Kayla, piped in that it was exactly what Kayla needed as she is always adding Kleenex to the weekly grocery list.
She probably would have set it aside and moved on the the next gift then, making a mental note that her grandmother was getting more weird by the day, had I not suggested that she just pull one of those tissues out and share it with me. She was puzzled at first when a second tissue emerged with the first but the look on her face was priceless when the cold, hard cash began to appear.
And the more she pulled, the more she giggled. It was way more fun to watch her open a box with money in this form than it ever would have been had I just stuck some cash in a regular box and wrapped it.
The gift and it's packaging was a hit. Well, the gift probably would have been a hit anyway as coupled with some cash from her dad she now can fund her week at the beach this summer. But I'd like to think that the few extra minutes it took to tape the bills together and roll them into a Kleenex box will be another good memory of Christmas at our house. And in the end, that's what matters most.