Holiday Gift Wrapping at Barnes & Noble,
Borders Books, or any other retail store

Gift Wrapping at Barnes & Noble and Borders Books.

A "Gift Wrap Fundraiser" is a wonderful way to spend a little holiday time wrapping gifts and spreading the word about ESRA. Both Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Borders Books offer an opportunity for non-profits and charities to participate in an event at one of their stores.

The gift wrap table is a courtesy provided by the store and allows the participants a chance to do a little fundraising. Donations by the shopper are optional, but gratefully accepted!

This is a fun event and wonderful opportunity to talk about our Springers with the shoppers who are passing by the gift wrap table or while their gifts are being wrapped.

Here's how it's done:

•  Send an email to your local volunteers and see if there is enough interest to participate in a gift wrap event. Let them know they'll be needed for a 3 to 4-hour shift on the selected day.

•  Contact a Barnes & Noble or Borders Books in your community and inquire about their gift wrap event. Let them know that ESRA would like to participate in their event and find out what dates are available. The first year you participate at a store, expect the best dates to be spoken for. If all the dates are taken, ask if there's a backup list. Once in a while, a group cancels at the last minute and the store organizer searches for a replacement on very short notice . NOTE: It's best to start this process in August or September, especially if it's the first time at a store location. The good dates go fast!

•  Before you decide on a specific date, email your local members and compare the availability of potential volunteers against the open dates. Note: Barnes & Noble requires two people at the desk at all times during the shift, so schedule your volunteers accordingly.

•  Once the best date is selected, contact the store and confirm the booking. Barnes &Noble requires a signed contract which can be signed by the ESRA representative booking the gift wrap. There is also a list of guidelines for participants. See below.

•  Be sure to list your event on the ESRA Events calendar by mailing the details to

•  Find out if the store allows dogs to attend the event. Some stores allow one or two dogs in the store. Most B&N's have a Starbucks Café, and food service laws prohibit dogs in the store. If they allow dogs on the sidewalk outside, then recruit a volunteer with a well-behaved foster or their own Springer who would be willing to sit outside and do a "meet-n-greet" for a couple of hours. This is a terrific way to introduce shoppers to the gift wrapping service courtesy of ESRA.

•  Decide on how long each shift will last. When a full day is booked, 3 to 4-hour shifts work well. Some overlap is good, too. Send out a schedule and request the volunteer community to advise what time they're available and whether they'll be bringing a Springer. (Do not count the meet-n-greeters as part of the gift wrap table count.)

•  Send a reminder to the volunteers a day ahead of the gift wrap date. Be sure and give them a contact number in case of traffic delays or other unforeseen holdups.

•  Wear your ESRA and holiday finery and be prepared to wrap, wrap, wrap! Santa hats, ESRA shirts and other personal decorations make for a festive event! (Lighted antler-hat is optional.)

This event allows the shoppers an opportunity to have their gifts wrapped on the spot, and ESRA members the opportunity to talk about our work and our mission rescuing Springers.

A few must haves:

•  Donation Jar: A must on your table! Barnes & Noble provides a donation box, which can be spruced up with a few decorations. Or make your own! A paw-print jar with photos and ribbon makes a definite statement!

•  Business Cards and Flyers: Be sure to have business cards or ESRA flyers on hand for individuals who want to visit the website, adopt or maybe volunteer! The more information about ESRA which is available, the more questions they'll ask and the more you can engage them in discussions about the dogs.

•  Nametags:   Nametags should be worn by all the volunteers working the event.  It identifies ESRA people to the shoppers and invites questions.  Some shoppers will call you by name and the store employees learn who you are.  If someone contacts ESRA after the event, they can say, "I spoke to Belle at Barnes & Noble last Saturday, about."  Simple adhesive-backed write-on nametags are perfect, or if someone is handy with a computer, pre-printed nametags are great, also. 

And a few other notes:

•  Signage: The interpretation of the store policy varies from location to location. Some do not allow any signage other than what they provide. Some allow the ESRA banner to be used as a table skirt or allow a poster board announcement. Ask your store for specifics.

•  Extra Wrapping Supplies: The stores provide basic wrapping paper, tape and scissors. We have found that some of the stores let us bring in our own wrapping papers, bows, ribbons and gift cards. These items are donated by the ESRA volunteers. It gives the shopper a chance to select a paper of their choice and have the gift wrapped in a more personal way. Shoppers appreciate the extra effort, and usually show that appreciation in their donation.

•  Biographies of Dogs Currently Available: Printouts of dogs currently available on the website help provide a name and story for ESRA. It draws the shoppers' attention to individual dogs and also brings forth many interesting stories and memories from the shoppers.

•  Thank You to the Store: It's a wonderful gesture to the store to bring a thank you note to their staff for hosting the gift wrap and inviting ESRA to attend. A brownie bite platter or a plate of cookies is also a great thank you!

This is a wonderful chance to meet the public in a venue not specific to dogs, which also gives us a chance to represent ESRA to individuals who might not know about ESRA, or rescue, through their normal daily travels. It is a highly-rewarding and fun experience! And, it's all for the dogs!


Professional appearance and behavior is expected of volunteers at all times.

  • A minimum of two members of the organization should be present at the table.
  • If minors are wrapping gifts, at least one adult should be present.
  • Barnes & Noble staff will direct customers to the gift wrap table; solicitation of customers is not allowed.
  • Donations from customers for gift wrapping are voluntary.
  • Volunteers may distribute brochures and fliers with information about their organization at the gift wrapping table.
  • Gift wrappers must check for a receipt before wrapping any items.
  • Gift wrappers are only to wrap items purchased at Barnes & Noble.
  • The gift wrapping area should be kept neat and clean.
  • Barnes & Noble will provide a sign for the table as well as a larger sign advertising the gift wrapping service. No other signs are allowed. (The table banner doesn't seem to fall under this category.)
  • The organization is responsible for all donations collected. Barnes & Noble will not be responsible for any funds left behind.
  • Gift wrappers should arrive fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled shift. (Applies to first shift only - allows time for setup and organizing the area.)
  • Organizations are required to remain at the gift wrap table until the end of their scheduled shift.

Please feel free to wear whatever ESRA clothing, hats, pins, socks, etc you may have - its great advertising!! (Santa hats are always allowed.)

If you have any other questions about doing a Holiday Gift Wrapping in your area, just let me know, and I'll be happy to try to answer them.  

Vicki Wingo
ESRA - San Diego

Thanks to Vicki for this "how-to", and for the photos.

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