by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace Daffron
No matter how hard we try to deny it, the simple fact is that the holidays can be stressful. Between the craziness of shopping, wrapping, budgeting, traveling, cooking, decorating – and the list goes on – sometimes, it can all be a little too much. Everyone seems to ignore this reality, and only talks about the good parts of Christmas, how it’s the perfect time to slow down and enjoy family time. Women like Kristin Busby of All Wrapped Up and Christy Larson and Anne Farley Smith of Oxford Town Concierge are here to help Mississippians find the time to enjoy the holidays.
All Wrapped Up
Kristin Busby is a full-time teacher and a part-time wrapper – that is, a gift wrapper. This wife and mother of three learned wrapping from her mother when she was young. Over the years, she has found a way to tie together the elements of her life with her wrapping. What originally started as a seasonal wrapping side-gig at a local store has now gone on to become her business.
Each year, Busby’s special needs class at Oxford High School takes a trip to go Christmas shopping for the students’ family members. When the class returns to school, Busby helps them choose their wrapping materials, teaches the students to wrap boxes and helps them with the ribbons. This helps her students learn a new task that could help them land a job as a seasonal wrapper.
Last year, Busby decided to dive in and start her business. She came up with the name, “All Wrapped Up,” and got started. On the weekends, she was able to find a way to involve her students. For those students who enjoyed wrapping the gifts in class, she invited to her house to wrap. Not only did this help provide the students’ parents with some extra time to go Christmas shopping, but this helped her students earn some Christmas money for themselves.
“It is a business, but at the same time it’s a service, and it’s also a service for my students,” Busby said.
Being a teacher has helped Busby organize her business. When a client drops off their gifts, Busby notes any pertinent information, (when they will be picking up their gifts, what gift goes to which person, etc.), and puts that client’s order in a box. She works on one client’s order box at a time, to make sure nothing is lost. When a gift is wrapped, she puts Post-Its on each one with a master sheet, so the client can know what is in each wrapped package. She snaps a photo of the client’s order box, now filled with wrapped boxes and ribbons, texts them the photo, and says, “You’re All Wrapped Up, ready to go.”
Oxford Town Concierge
From emergency chicken-soup runs, chauffeuring customers to and from the airport, birthday-gift deliveries, final exam “happies,” to Christmas galore – the Oxford Town Concierge really does do it all. During the holiday season, when the students return to their hometowns and Oxford is notably more bare, Anne Farley Smith and Christy Larson are busy bees – or rather elves – putting the finishing bows on everyone’s Christmas.
“So it’s like Santa Clause – we’re being Santa,” Larson said. “Because time is valuable, and what used to be laid-back Christmases – there are no more. Our lifestyle, we’re just going, going, going until the very end, up until Christmas. It’s one more responsibility that someone doesn’t have to do.”
The duo are nurturers at heart, and love each other’s company. When these nearly empty nesters realized Oxford’s need for a catch-all service, they found and created their niche business.
“Anything that no one has time to do, cannot do, really doesn’t want to do – we love it,” Smith said. “That’s fun, we enjoy it.”
During the holidays, customers will hire the pair to set up or break down a party, decorate their homes or trees, pick up a holiday ham or simply wrap gifts. Smith and Larson said they love it, because not only does it help others embrace Christmas, but it helps get them in the holiday spirit, too. They go about their merry way, with Christmas classics playing in the background – think: Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Harry Connick Jr. – light a candle or warm a cranberry stove-top potpourri, and go to town.
And while they may be doing the tasks no one else leaps from bed excited to conquer, Smith and Larson enjoy their time together and each day’s work at OTC.