I remember how psyched I was to get my first baseball bat. Finally, something heavy and solid to break things with! Only one thing sullies this glorious memory of my youth: my dad's a terrible wrapper. The dude can't wrap a present to save his life, so he just...doesn't. That wonderful Louisville Slugger just sat there with a bow on it. In plain sight. Part of the fun is unwrapping the present, DAD. "C" for effort buddy.

What other reason is there to have kids than to correct our parents' mistakes? I can do better than my dad's surprise-annihilating wrapping job, and you can to. I know it can be intimidating to figure out how to wrap odd-shaped gifts like hockey sticks and footballs, but if you're like me, you hear "odd-shaped gifts" and think, "more like 'odd-shaped opportunities.'"

We have to think outside of the box, cause there's no box. Unless, of course, you have a box, then use the box! That makes it so much easier.

Materials:

  • A ton of wrapping paper, and not that cheap junk you are accustomed to buying. Get some heavy stuff and some tissue paper and ribbon, ya cheapskate.
  • Tape. Double-sided tape comes in handy.
  • Scissors, duh
  • Your MIND

There are three basic methods to wrap weird-shaped gifts: gift bags, the obfuscation/magic method, and making weird boxes into normal boxes.

GIFT BAG MAKING

Holy...wow, did my dad's wrap career take off once he discovered the gift bag. You dump your gift in it and throw some tissue paper on top — genius! Round things (like balls) are perfect candidates for this tried-and-true wrapping technique. It can be hard to find big enough gift bags though, so you can create your own:

  1. Put the ball in the middle of a huge expanse of wrapping paper. Make sure you have enough paper to envelope the ball completely.
  2. Remove the ball and fold the paper together in the middle like you're making a paper airplane. Tape it together.
  3. Now you're going to make the bottom of the bag. This is going to get a little real. Fold up from the bottom to the depth you'll need. That's just to create a crease. Unfold it. Now fold the two sides in so that it makes a diamond, meeting at the crease you just made. With me? Now fold the top of the diamond down and fold the bottom of the diamond up. Tape generously.
  4. If you did it right, you should have a bag. Put the ball in and fold the top down. If you did it wrong, watch the video I stole this idea from here.

OBFUSCATION AND MAGIC

Great magicians know the power of the misdirect - you're watching them saw a lady in half and you don't even notice that there's some guy taking your wallet. Or maybe that wasn't part of the trick...in any case, this is where your mind comes into play. A tennis racquet, a hockey stick, a crossbow (he's a little young for a crossbow, isn't he?) — all have very distinct shapes. Your goal is to disguise that shape. Put the tennis racquet in a guitar case. Put the the baseball bat in a poster tube. Oh, did I forget to list "guitar case" and "poster tube" in the materials you need? My bad. Figure it out.

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But the principle holds: wrap the weird shape with tissue paper to soften the edges. Or use pieces of cardboard or paper towel tubing to hide the distinct swoop of the hockey stick's blade before wrapping. Your kid will be too busy wondering why you bought him a double-bladed battle axe to guess what it really is.

MAKE WEIRD BOXES INTO NORMAL BOXES

Sometimes you have something — like a helmet, say — that's in a weird shaped box. Work with the box. Make the most out of the normal edges you've been given.

  1. Put the box on the paper, but near you instead of in the middle. Make sure you have enough on the side closest to you and either side that you can cover the sides and bottom edge. Picture a rectangle in front of you, with your gift at the bottom third.
  2. Fold in the sides and the bottom to cradle the box part. Tape. You should have sort of a long flap at the top of the gift and the sides and bottom should be secured.
  3. Now you're going to fold the long edges towards the middle a bit so that you've got a long flap with angled sides.
  4. Roll your gift towards the flap, neatening and folding inwards. Keep rolling until the weird side is covered by the big flap. Tape it.
  5. Okay, so it looks like a hunk of junk cause you didn't know what you were doing. So re-do steps 1-4 with the right amount of paper. Liberal use of bows and ribbon will hide any messiness.

LAST-DITCH, FAIL-SAFE PLAN

Sometimes you forgot to buy a guitar case or used up all your wrapping paper screwing up my directions. In those cases, I still got you covered. The last-ditch, fail-safe plan is "Hide the present and create a treasure map to find it." Seriously, some things you just can't wrap! This may be the best tip. What kid doesn't like a treasure map?

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If you've followed my tips, you'll spoil your kid without spoiling the surprise. Look at you: a regular wrap artist. Can you say "can't touch this?" For more oddly shaped things to wrap artfully, head to Dick's Sporting Goods.

Doug Moe is a comedian from the UCB Theatre who writes about the absurdity of being a parent at his dad blog Man Versus Child.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Dick's Sporting Goods and Studio@Gawker.

Illustrations by David Saracino