The first Christmas wrapping papers were a happy accident.

The first Christmas wrapping papers were a happy accident.

The Hall Brothers of Kansas City, Mo., ran out of their usual supply of Christmas tissue paper just a few days before the holiday in 1917. Rollie Hall quickly set out a stack of decorative French envelope liners. They sold out fast, and did so again the following year. The brothers saw they were on to something, and the rest is history; their Hallmark company remains one of the giants in the industry.

This holiday season, there are four main trends in wrapping paper, according to Ann Thornton, gift packaging buyer for The Container Store.

"We're seeing retro and traditional designs reminiscent of simpler times — the look of hand-drawn images," she said.

"Birds and whimsical animals will be another strong theme, as well as simple nature silhouettes — leaves, branches and pine cones.

"And finally elegant brocades and swirls will be popular."

Metals and metallic accents; greens ranging from apple to emerald; on-trend purples, pinks and grays; as well as crisp red and white make up this season's color palette.

This season, The Container Store is introducing '70s-style birds perched on swirly branches in muted hues of pale pink, turquoise, gray and cream. On another wrap, brocade-printed ornaments in shades of mauve, gold and shell pink cascade down a charcoal background.

For lovers of vintage Christmases, there are charming Santas and Scottish terriers cavorting among '40s- and '50s-style type fonts.

Over at the upscale Paper Source, the creative team has taken a cheerful tack this year. "We've incorporated happy, lighthearted themes like dogs with Santa hats, sparkly glitter, cookies and confections. We wanted our 2010 wraps to be fun," says company spokesman Carolyn Agnew.

At PaperMojo, find Wooster & Prince's contemporary take on the iconic poinsettia, in vivid tomato red on a graphite background. Moravian tiles, a big decor motif right now, emblazon a color-saturated wrap that's classic and cool.

Snow & Graham has two pretty nature-themed designs: wintry birch trees on an icy blue background, and sweet brown wrens nestled among pine cones and boughs. Like many of these contemporary designs, they'd be perfect for both Christmas and Hanukkah.