weddingwrapLooksAwfulI stepped back to see how it looked. Nothing like the picture on the package. No neat corners, just a mess of wrapping, as you can see.

The gal at Customer Service told me to pick up the item I’d ordered from the bride’s online gift registry after I paid for my in-store purchases. I knew the box would have to be big to accommodate the 13-piece cookware set. So, I bypassed the rolls of wrapping paper and large gift bags with handles and went with an extra-large plastic gift bag.

I bet anyone besides me would have known this wasn’t going to work.


Years ago, when my first husband and I were dating, we accepted a dinner invitation from two of his colleagues. They were post-doctoral/graduate students, newlyweds, and British. When I offered to help and walked into the kitchen, I was met with, well, a mess.

I think maybe I stammered. Our hostess’s dry wit saved us both from embarrassment.

“Yes, I know.” She sighed. “Looks awful, but tastes good.”

Exactly my challenge, I thought at the time. Presentation. And that didn’t change much over the years.

My children used to give me standing ovations when the decorations on their birthday cakes looked even remotely like flowers—and they could read the writing. I am grateful not to have passed that onto my daughter, who is a wonderful cook and hostess. Please don’t ask her about the “looks awful, tastes good” Buche to Noel I made last Christmas.



The plain fact of the matter is things that look awful are less appealing. Take food, for instance. Although sometimes what looks good actually tastes awful, the sweet spot is clearly looks good, tastes goods. As this 2008 Scientific American article states:

Although sight is not technically part of taste, it certainly influences perception. Interestingly, food and drink are identified predominantly by the senses of smell and sight, not taste. Food can be identified by sight alone—we don’t have to eat a strawberry to know it is a strawberry. The same goes for smell, in many cases.

Keith would argue that touch, as in texture, is also part of food enjoyment. Some people relish food sounds, the snap or crunch. So, all five senses can enter into the “looks good, tastes good” formula.


But back to my bridal shower gift-wrapping problem. How to make something that looks awful into something that shows my good wishes? I slit the large plastic bag along the side and bottom seams, lay the plastic flat, and wrapped the large, heavy box. The corners weren’t overly neat but didn’t stick out like a sore thumb when stacked with others—my gift stands bottom left in this picture. weddingwrapBetter

It was a lovely shower, as I knew it would be. The bride’s sister and mother decorated everything on a sunflower theme. Even the bride pitched in, frosting the yellow cupcakes with yellow petals topped with mini Oreo cookies for sunflower seeds. Of course, the food looked wonderful and tasted even better.

Best wishes, sweet Anna. I know you’ll cook many meals and wrap many presents and host many special friend and family occasions that hit that sweet spot.


  1. Sally

    Great post. It was Apicius, the first century Roman gourmand, who said : ‘We eat first with our eyes.’ 🤗

  2. bigskybuckeye

    Appearances can be deceiving . . . sometimes. Carole, you managed to weather this storm with patience and grace. Hmm, perhaps it is time for me to restore a “welcoming” appearance to our spare bedroom. Not expecting any company, the room looks like a locker for Amazon.

    • Carole Duff

      Perhaps all of us have spaces in our lives that look less than appealing. As long as I don’t expect others to live with my messiness… and, well, perfection is not for me in this lifetime.

  3. Nancy Ruegg

    That was a Pinterest-worthy idea, Carole, to slit the bag open, smooth it out, and use it for gift wrap! 🙂

    • Carole Duff

      Thanks, Nancy. For me, desperation is the mother of invention.


Leave a Reply

Meet Carole


Let's Connect

Favorite Subjects