Best Thinking Outside the Box

Delicately filigreed unicorns, tissue-paper puppies, fortune-cookie messages and cutouts of tiny masks: These are a few of Uncle Jer’s gift-wrapping crew’s favorite things, with which they will adorn, for free, a brown box full of anything you buy in the store. It is, literally, a reason to buy your gift booty there. Have that African thumb piano encased in a box of Chinese ceremonial paper, those candles offered in a package decorated with paper cutouts of horses from Japan, those bars of soap made more special with little faces of lucky cats. Every tiny creation is a marvel.

“A lot of what we use comes from the packaging that comes with what we get shipped to us,” says owner Cassandra Puga, who imports pottery, trinkets and other curiosities from around the globe. “We recycle it all.” She also combs Chinese markets and asks her staff to bring in “whatever they think is fun.” And while she trains every new employee in the rigors of Uncle Jer’s wrapping style, she does not impose a cookie-cutter technique. “Everyone wraps a little differently,” she says, “which is kind of nice.” Plus, Uncle Jer’s donates 10 percent of its profits to charities like CARE and the Heifer Foundation, so you can always get a warm-hearted rush when you squander your cash there.

Uncle Jer’s 4459 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323) 662-6710

LA Weekly