Hollywood Giftwrap

Normal people wrap presents such that they are entirely enveloped by wrapping paper, which must be torn off before the contents can be revealed. This is a theoretically simple process that requires a minimum of cutting, taping and assembly. (Theoretically — many a comedy has enjoyed a catastrophic gift-wrapping sequence.) It also ensures that there is no easy accidental reveal of the hidden gift.

In the world of Hollywood, though, there is a bizarro style of wrapping that is used instead: a box with a lid are each wrapped separately, the gift (usually devoid of any manufacturer's packaging) placed within, and the lid simply set upon the box. Nothing (except, rarely, a ribbon) secures the lid to the box. It goes without saying that this is a far more complicated style of wrapping that takes longer and is far less secure than the usual. The point, of course, is to make it easy to quickly show the contents of the box within the limited time of a television program, and to avoid the need for time-consuming rewrapping between takes. It also avoids continuity errors while shooting coverage. And, of course, if it's a cartoon, it's easier to animate it this way as well.

The usual exception to this trope is Christmas gifts for children; the shredding of wrapping on the way to getting to the gift is expected and even Hollywood can't ignore that for its own benefit.

Beautifully decorated boxes intended for this use have become Defictionalized in recent years — presumably either for the benefit of un-dexterous givers or similarly challenged recipients.

Roger Ebert mentioned this trope in Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary under the name "EZ Open Gift Rule".


Comic Books
  • In The Smurfs, Jokey Smurf's stock exploding gifts take this form.

Film - Animation
  • In Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear arrives in a box wrapped in this manner. Interestingly, Andy also receives a number of packages wrapped in the normal, real-life fashion, but these all get opened off-screen, presumably because rendering tearing paper is hard.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Dr Forrester's entry in the invention exchange is a machine that transforms presents. All of these presents are wrapped with Hollywood Giftwrap, with lids on the top and the bottom, as a transparently low tech way to depict the transformation of the presents: Clayton opens the top lid to show there's a videogame cartridge in the box, he puts the lid back on and runs it through the machine, then he flips the box over and opens the lid from the other side to reveal that the package now contains socks.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, McKay gives the pregnant Teyla a baby present wrapped this way: an iPod filled with recordings of his genius, so she can listen to them and make her son smarter in the womb.
  • The Game Show The New Treasure Hunt featured 30 (later 66) "surprise packages" from which the contestant had to choose to determine the prize she would win (or pass up); they were all wrapped this way.
    • Inverted with the same show, in the 70's: To select who played the game to begin with, 10 members in each section of the audience were given small boxes, three with numbers in them, that had to genuinely be unwrapped.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, Dorothy gives Rose a birthday gift wrapped like this. In addition to being ditzy, Rose also shows herself to be Genre Blind: she attempts for a few seconds to tear off the paper, before Dorothy finally takes mercy and removes the lid for her.
  • In the Roundhouse Christmas Episode, the mother appears in a Parody Commercial advertising a school for TV giftwrapping. During the segment, Amy opens a present wrapped in this manner, finding a dartboard of Shannen Doherty, while Ivan furiously tries to get a normal present open.

Western Animation
  • In Steven Universe, Connie tells Steven not to unwrap the birthday present she got him because she deliberately got a box with a pull-off lid, even saying it looks like she did more work than she did.