The answer to all of your holiday needs!
(Somerville Wire) – Somerville social worker Carolyn Harmeling always had a talent for designing beautifully wrapped gifts, and to make some extra money, she decided to open a business this season. Now, with the holidays approaching, you can message her on Facebook to have your last minute purchases neatly packaged and adorned with a bow. Carolyn told us a bit about how she started this service—and what she likes best about Christmas in Somerville.
When did you start the gift-wrapping business, and how did the idea of it come about?
I decided to give the gift-wrapping business idea a try this winter, and I started up my Facebook page in November so I would be ready for the holiday season. I’ve had relatives and friends mention it to me over the years after I’ve given them gifts. I never thought too much of it, but I finally thought it would be fun to try, so I went for it!
I think the most challenging part of the business so far has been finding ways to reach people. I’ve mostly been using Facebook and trying to post in groups, and I’ve been trying to come up with more outreach ideas, which is why I appreciate this spotlight in the Wire. I think my services would be especially helpful to parents who have lots of gifts to wrap for their families, but are busy people who may not have the time! So far, the most fun part of the job has been wrapping gifts that I know will make others happy, and will look beautiful under the tree! The past year and a half has been so crazy, I’m just glad holiday traditions and gatherings can resume this year as much as we’re able.
How did you become interested in crafts and calligraphy?
I have always loved arts and crafts. I think I get it from my mom, she is a crafty person, always sewing my Halloween costumes and helping me hot glue random projects throughout the years. I have always especially loved the art of lettering and handwriting. I think I’m one of the only people I know who still writes in cursive regularly. I learned about calligraphy years ago, probably from seeing videos online. It started out with just learning how to take my cursive handwriting and shade certain parts of each letter to get a calligraphy effect, but then I got a set of brush pens and learned how to make more smooth letters. A few years back I began wrapping all my gifts in plain brown paper. I loved this because I could write a note directly on the gift in pretty lettering. It’s still my favorite way to wrap gifts, and it always seems to make people happy! Plain brown paper is also a plus because it’s recycle-able.
You also work as a clinical social worker, supporting teens with behavioral and emotional difficulties. What do you find rewarding about this kind of work, and are there also ways that you find inspiration through it?
I work full time as a clinical social worker in a group home for teenagers. I love working with teens and helping them through their treatment at the program. Young people are so resilient and adaptable. My work with teens is fun because I help them determine the goals they have for their adulthood, and together we figure out how to help them take steps toward those goals. I find doing art-based activities especially fun with teens especially rewarding because there’s power in letting themselves be creative and make something entirely with their own hands.
What do you like most about the holidays in Somerville?
I love Christmas time! It’s wonderful to see the city lit up. I love the cozy feeling that comes this time of year when everyone is dressed in warm sweaters and hats, and it’s appropriate to drink hot chocolate at any time of day!
Click here to visit Carolyn’s Gift-Wrapping Services page.
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.