Under Cloak of Invisibility

This year folks found a bulk of packages under the tree wrapped 100% identically — no distinction whatsoever between one gift to any other. No distinguishing marks, no card, nothing special.toDianeHidden

Except for one gift: a small package wrapped in identical paper to the other gifts, but written with the inscription “To Everyone, From The Mad Wrapper.”  An opening of this box reveals a flashlight.  A special flashlight.

To Diane From the Mad Wrapper
To Diane From the Mad Wrapper

Guests discover that the flashlight exposes text written on the packaged with invisible ink.  Relief spreads across the faces of the audience as each guest realizes that it will be a fairly quick Mad-Wrapper opening this year: no lengthy puzzle solving, no brain-twisting IQ tests — just a simple opening.

Genesis of Invisibility

It is fairly easy to find internet sites that sell invisible ink markers and associated flashlights.  Often these are sold as security items that allow customers to mark artwork, tools, valuables, any item, to prove ownership if lost or stolen.  The Mad Wrapper used these to show ownership of gifts under the tree.

Invisible ink comes in various colors that show when placed under light at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum. Buy at least two colors of invisible ink.  It is common to buy markers in packages of three colors — probably the best plan. The package I bought contained blue invisible pens, pink invisible pens, and yellow invisible pens.  This worked well.pensLightAndMonkeyPaper

I found that light-colored paper worked best.  I used paper that was largely light-blue, light-brown, and white.

Before wrapping gifts in the paper, make sure to run some tests.  On a scrap of paper, I wrote the work “Pink” with the pink marker, “Yellow” with the yellow marker, and “Blue” with the blue marker.  Shine the black-light flashlight on the test paper and take note of the color that stands out the best — this is the color to use for the writing on your gifts. In my case, blue was the best color.  Also take note of the color that blends into your paper the best. In my case, pink stood out the least.

Background Pattern

The problem with invisible ink — at least the ink that I worked with — is that, for a perceptive reader, invisible ink is not entirely invisible.  I found that, by angling the package toward strong sunlight, invisible writing on the package becomes readable.  The writing on the package reflects with a slightly different texture from the paper itself.  The glistening sheen thus becomes readable.

The good news is that all three ink colors will have the same reflective properties.

testColorsBefore writing words on my wrapping paper, I covered the entire gift wrap with a background pattern of circles and lines using my pink invisible ink marker — the color that blended into my paper the best.  With such a pattern scrawled across a gift, sunlight reflections will produce nothing more than a mess of modern art. (I use the term “art” very loosely — it mostly just produced a mess.)  Because I used pink, the color barely showed up under the special light.  The pattern went completely unnoticed by many of the gift unwrappers.

The Inscription

The inscription was simple.  Using blue invisible ink I simply wrote “To _____, From The Mad Wrapper” on the top of the wrapped gift, over the top of the pink background pattern.

Success

This Mad Wrapper gift craft was as success for a couple of reasons.  1) it was quick to wrap, 2) it was a quick to unwrap.  If you have time constraints for either of those events, this would be a good choice.

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