To understand the deep affinity I have for my black Christmas wrapping this year, I have to tell you about my history with the colour black.  Growing up I wasn’t allowed to wear black.  Not even into highschool was I allowed to wear black.  Had I been a bit more ambitious with exploring employment opportunities at the age of 12 I could have made my own money to buy my own black clothing.  But as it turns out, my ambitions for work pretty much started and stopped at running upstairs from the rumpus room to get my Uncle Leo a fresh beer for $1.  And he only visited once or twice a year so …

I have no idea why my mother refused to let me wear black but I suspect it was the result of when she herself spent a lot of time in black in the nunnery her parents sent her to. Betty was what they called “high spirited” as a teenage girl.  Her parents were what they called “trying to scare the shit out of her”.

Then one day, out of the blue, I was allowed to wear black.  It was to a grade 10 dance.  And it was remarkable.  I had found my colour.  It was tough and powerful and chic. It was the perfect colour.  And I didn’t take it off for about 15 years.  It felt like me.  Black felt strong and decisive and oh yeah, every single thing I owned matched with every other single thing I owned.  So black was also a huge time saver.

I can’t remember when it was I stopped wearing black all the time but it probably happened slowly over time.  I’d add in some red here and some white there and before you knew it I was wearing pink and turquoise and coral.  Not purple. Never purple.  I’m not a complete asshole.

But whenever I put on all black now I get that exact same feeling of HEY. I’m cool!  I saw the Ramones play live and I can crush a walnut in my fist and, and … I can excise an abscess on my cat’s neck if I have to!   Your idea of cool might be different than mine.

So this year for some reason I’ve been feeling a little bolder.  A little less light and ethereal.  I’ve been feeling the best bits of black.  And it’s a great feeling to have going into the new year.

I love this year’s black present wrapping.  It’s cool.  By pretty much anyone’s standards.


Buy vintage black velvet ribbon


Buy black gift wrapping paper.


The paper is plain black wrapping paper and the ribbon is wide black velvet ribbon and wide black satin ribbon.  The huge gold flowers are Christmas tree ornaments.



But my favourite part of these presents is the tags.



I bought small gold frames (the photos in them are 2″x2″) and printed vintage pictures of everyone to put on their gifts instead of writing their names.



Some of the people I give gifts to aren’t old enough to have vintage photos so I put all the photos through a bit of Photoshopping to give them all the same vintage colour and feel.  A bit of blur, a bit of graininess, a loss of most of the colour.



hal black-gifts-under-tree


Take that Snow White.

 No more brown paper packages tied up with strings.

No more twigs or twine and cute rustic things.

It’s black and it’s bold and it’s gold all over.

Chokin’ on bling like a fat Range Rover.



It’s Christmas I say, and a New Year soon

You will be strong and tough and reach for the moon

The passion you had when you were still young,

It’s not gone, it’s still there, the song can be sung,

Don’t wither away and pull down the sash,

This year,

Find yourself,

find your black,

find your inner badass.

**Congratulations to Thandi. You’re the winner of Friday’s Bread Lover’s Giveaway package. I’ll email you the details.”


  1. Melinda says:

    This is soooooo beautiful! I feel like such a slacker wrapper, because I used gift bags!

  2. Kari says:

    BTW LOVE your tree!

  3. Kari says:

    Oh the black paper IS cool. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Melissa says:

    That is one bad-ass, mofo, Xmas tree!!! (And actually, just to be clear, it’s very beautiful, too!)

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Melissa! It is pretty bad-ass. Which is why I love it. Bad-ass mofo is really the only way to go with a Christmas tree, no? ~ karen!

  5. izzy says:

    I love the picture tags! I will have to steal that idea!

  6. Benjamin says:

    oh Thandi and Brandi the Christmas stripper twins. Huh… I guess I have to expand my holiday glitter-fart story for next year. Well a few good laughs were just as good to me. Hope your holidays are merry and bright.

  7. Laurinda says:

    Ooo-I’m TOTALLY stealing that photograph idea! I’m working down my amazing wrapping paper stash (& none was full price) but once it’s gone-all fabric baby!
    Btw, I am “a complete asshole”, & love wearing purple ?

  8. Tiff says:

    Karen – quite simply – you & your humor rock! The black & gold is a stunning combination! I hope you & your friends have fun & fabulous holidays ahead!

  9. Gayle M says:

    OMG–not until I read about your history with black did I realize that I never wore a black as a child! How old is your mum–maybe that has something to do with it? Black is now the backbone of my wardrobe–after jeans, that is. I will not explain why, but I was never allowed to wear purple, which in its paler blue-purple shades happens to be one of my best colors. It never fails to get me a compliment.

    I think your black and gold wrapping theme is trespass elegant. And the gift tags–pure genius. Pure. Genius. I may steal that one for next year, thank you. Beginnin’ to look a lot like Christmas!

  10. YvonneM says:


  11. Alena says:

    Thandie Newton reads your blog?!? Well, darn Thandie! I had my eyes ( as well as teeth) set on the bread package!

    I fell in love with black when I was 14 and our relationship is still going strong. Black is one of the few colours that look good on me. So to this day, I pretty much wear black, teal, aqua, some shades of blue and green (I mean other than teal and aqua) and purple (which probably makes me an asshole by Karen’s def).

    I also like doing Christmas presents in one theme. Love the black. Where did you get the fabulous black wrapping paper, Karen? I could use it for some other upcoming projects of mine.

  12. LINDSAY CUDINI says:


    The packages are gorgeous, the gold flowers add a classy touch. Where did you locate them?

    Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season. I love your blog….bless you!


  13. Tanya Januszko says:

    Ok. This post is EVERYTHING. The wide satin ribbon. The black. The vintage photos. The black. The blinged out magnolias. The black. Your writing. The black.

    I can’t stand how talented you are. ;-)

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