There's a Mathematically Perfect Way to Wrap Presents and You Can Learn It in Seconds

There's a Mathematically Perfect Way to Wrap Presents and You Can Learn It in Seconds

Gift wrapping is hard. Most of us are lucky if we can produce a present that looks like a sad, half-stuffed sausage, let alone a Louvre-worthy masterpiece made from ribbon and paper.

Luckily, United Kingdom-based mathematician Katie Steckles is here to help. On Wednesday, Steckles posted a video tutorial explaining how to wrap gifts properly — using math.

Source: YouTube

She runs through various gift shapes, including "cuboid" (think shoeboxes), "equilateral triangular prism" (think Toblerone chocolate), cylinders and "squidgy" gifts like candy and clothing. 

For rectangular items, she suggests bringing the paper that goes over the ends up to the middle of the box, like so: 

Source: Mic/Youtube

That way, when you go to tape it all up, the ends all meet in a "fantastic cross shape." 

Source: Mic/Youtube

Next up is the Toblerone, for which Steckles says to make sure the wrapping paper at the ends matches up with the tip of the end triangles: 

Source: Mic/Youtube
Source: Mic/Youtube

For the cylinder, she tells viewers to measure out enough wrapping paper to cover the circumference. This is done by measuring three times the diameter plus a tiny bit of space to represent the extra amount (0.14159) in pi.

Source: Mic/Youtube

The last one, however, is probably the coolest, and it involves even more math.

It's used for flatter, square-shaped items, and it involves adding the diagonal length of the item to its height times one and a half: 

Source: Youtube
Source: Youtube
Source: Youtube

In the end (after some wrangling), it looks like this:

Source: Mic/Youtube

Happy holidays, and may your gifts forever not look like sausages.

Editor's note: The reporter's father is a professor of mathematics and atmosphere ocean science at New York University. When asked in an email whether the math in Steckler's video was consistent, he answered, "Yeah, it looks legit."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sophie Kleeman

Sophie is a staff writer at Mic covering the intersection of tech and culture. She's based in New York and can be reached at sophie@mic.com.

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