The new alternative to Christmas lights: Gift wrap your house

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In the spirit of the holiday season, the Movoto Real Estate blog team found our minds wandering to one of the much-favored aspects of the festivities: the gifts. It was only a matter of a time, then, until we began contemplating how to relate the holiday tradition to housing.

What we came up with should come as little to no surprise for any of our regular readers. We decided to figure out the cost and amount needed to wrap a home in some of that sparkly holiday paper.

Turns out it would cost $1,608. Here’s how we came to that number.

Deck the House with Rolls of Wrapping Paper

To figure out how much wrapping paper we would need to completely cover a house (excluding the foundation), we first had to answer a few questions:

  • What is the average size of a house?
  • How do we find the surface area of that house?

Wrap That House

Based on the average American home, we calculated the surface area to be 5,025 square feet.

According to the U.S. census, the average size of a new home last year was 2,480 square feet. We went with a slightly easier number -- 2,500 square feet -- for our calculations. We also decided to make our house square.

Then we needed to figure out the average height of a story. We chose 10 feet.

This made the surface area 2,000 square feet.

Unfortunately, we still had to figure out the roof.

And a Wrapping Paper Roof

We went with your basic triangular roof, which meant we needed to calculate the surface area for two rectangular shapes and two triangles (think of a 3D triangular prism with the bottom cut off).

Helped along by a previous encounter with gingerbread, we found the surface area for the roof to be about 3,025 square feet, making the total surface area of the house approximately 5,025 square feet.

'Tis the Season to Be Wrapping

Now to the fun part -- calculating how much wrapping paper it would take to cover the home.

Rolls of holiday gift wrap come in all sizes, but we decided to go with a somewhat standard roll:

  • 30 inches by 5 feet
  • Area of 12.5 square feet

So it would take us 402 rolls of wrapping paper to cover our home.

The Price of a Gift-Wrapped Home

We estimated that the average roll of gift wrap would cost about $4 (we’re thinking of those 3-roll packs that usually run $12 at your typical chain store).

This means a single square foot of gift wrap would cost about 32 cents. To get the total cost for the required wrapping paper, we multiplied the total paper needed by the price per square foot.

At $0.32 per square foot, it would cost $1,608 to cover our house in holiday paper.

What Would Your Gift Be Without Decorations?

Of course, no gift is complete without ribbon. Penny pinchers might do well to raid your local Walmart or Target and fashion a large bow and ribbon out of their regular-sized counterparts.

It would be unique, that’s for sure.

If you’re truly invested, may we suggest submitting an order to King Size Bows -- on their site you can buy 30-inch outdoor bows for $125, or custom order your own.

Bonus Round: Wrap Your Home in Newspaper

We know that many of you prefer to wrap your gifts in newspaper -- it’s more affordable, easily accessible, and environmentally friendly. So it makes sense that people more concerned with cost than holiday-themed patterns would opt for the black-and-white print.

A standard American newspaper (broadsheet style) is approximately:

  • 12 inches wide
  • 22 ¾ inches long
  • And has an area of 1.9 square feet

Although we could not find data on the number of pages in a typical paper, we estimated that a daily paper averages around 10 pages.

This means that you could cover 19 square feet with one newspaper (by our guesstimates). To wrap our 5,025-square-foot home, we would need to purchase 265 newspapers.

By our research, this would cost about $397 under the assumption that a single daily newspaper costs around $1.50 (another guesstimate). A price tag of $397 sounds much more reasonable than $1,608–although, we admit, still absurd.

The Tape That Holds It All Together

We are well aware that we neglected to mention anything about the amount of tape necessary to gift wrap your home. This is because we were genuinely befuddled by how to go about doing so.

Our advice instead is: pick up a 12-pack of packaging tape from an office supply or shipping store and go to town on your wrapping job. Just try not to wrap yourself in the process.


Kristin Crosier is a staff writer for Movoto and a graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Movoto blog is a service of Movoto Real Estate.

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