The holidays are upon us. That means eggnog, bad sweaters, and of course, not knowing what gifts to get for your friends or family. An iPad is a great example of a tech gift that’s popular this time of year, but may feel a bit too common. So here’s a handy tip to help customize your iPad gift to make it more personal and festive for that special someone on that special day (and, there just may be a way to do the same with an iPhone or Android device, too)!

First, we’re going to open the iPad…HOLD ON, DON’T FREAK OUT. We’re going to do something a bit unconventional—so the iPad will still look sealed when it’s finally opened.

Flip the iPad box over so the back is facing upwards

Take a sharp object with a fine tip and slice downwards from one corner to the opposite corner

To make this easier, use the groove between the lid and the box as a guide. The sharp object should be something like an X-acto knife, box cutter, or small razor blade (and in case you hadn’t gathered by now, they’re sharp…so be careful). Don’t use things like a butter knife or car key, as they have jagged edges and won’t perform a clean cut.

Personalize a gift_opening the device.gif

Repeat the same cut on the other side

Make the same cut to only ONE of the remaining sides (top or bottom)—but NOT BOTH

You want to create a flap that’s attached to at least one of the sides. This makes it easier when reassembling the packaging.

Remove the lid

Gently move the attached, plastic flap away (don’t tear it off) as you flip the box back over. Place your fingers between the box and the lid, and gently lift off the lid. The plastic wrap should still be intact around the lid while the attached flap hangs from it.

Remove the iPad from its sleeve

Keep one hand underneath the screen of the iPad, and carefully pull the tab all the way back so the frame of the sleeve stays intact. If you don’t have the steadiest of hands, try putting the iPad onto a hard surface like a table before removing the tab.

And if you get a bit too eager and mess up the sleeve shell, don’t worry. You can put it back together again fairly easily.

Find an image online, save the image, then apply it as wallpaper

Before finding the image online, you’ll first need to set up the iPad…but don’t fret.  Other than connecting it to Wi-Fi, you can skip pretty much everything in the process.  And the person who’s getting the iPad can easily go back and set those things up afterwards.  If you’re not sure how to set it up, check out this walkthrough on Apple’s support site.

Tap Safari, then in the address bar on top, type the kind of image you’d like to find—like “Happy Holidays”—then in the Google Search results, tap the Images tab near the top of the page and find the best looking image.  When you find the one you want:

• Tap and hold on the screen, then tap Save Image.
• Open the Photos app on the iPad, and select the photo.
• Tap the Share icon ( the Share button ) and select Use as Wallpaper
• Tap Set Both to set the image as wallpaper for the Home screen and Lock screen

GOOD TIP: To find an image that will look clear and sharp, make sure to find an image that matches the resolution of the iPad you’re saving it to.  To do this tap Search Tools under the Images tab, then tap Size and select Large.  This will automatically filter the images that have larger resolutions.  And for reference, here are the resolution sizes for each current iPad model:

iPad Pro (9.7-inch), iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad mini 2:

iPad Pro (12.9-inch):

Put the iPad back in its sleeve

You know all that holiday candy you’re eating while wrapping gifts? Well, tablet and phones screens are magnets for greasy fingerprints.  So before you do anything, wipe the iPad screen down with dry, clean cloth—like a microfiber cloth or even a glasses sleeve (and maybe wash your hands, too, ya filthy animal!). Then, instead of just putting it to sleep, make sure you turn off the iPad.  If the gift won’t be opened right away, the battery will die. And the last thing you want is for someone to open up their shiny new iPad, only to find it won’t turn on.

After you’ve cleaned and turned off the iPad, put the iPad sleeve on a hard surface, slide the iPad back in, and close the tab back over. For a clean look, make sure that flap is nice and tight and there aren’t any bubbles.

Put it all back together

Congrats!  You’re almost done. Now, place the lid back on the box; flip it back over; and lay the attached, plastic flap down over the back of the box. Grab some Scotch Tape (or any clear tape) and tape the flap down on all sides. It’s best if you place one side of the tape down on the flap, then pull it to the box—so it creates a tight seal.

Once it’s all sealed up, give yourself a thumbs-up for a job well done!

Now when that special someone opens their new iPad, chances are they’ll rip off the plastic from the top and be none-the-wiser. And when they turn it on, they’ll be greeted with your thoughtful and personal image—making the gift that much more special. Plus, it’ll be set up and ready to use immediately—so they won’t have to go through the whole setup process.

And personalizing your tech gift in this fashion doesn’t just have to be for the holidays. It’s also great for other major occasions, like birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries (I’ve had more than a few husbands come to me after I helped them personalize their iPad gift for their partner to excessively thank me).

BONUS!  If you’re giving a phone as a gift, it may be even easier to personalize it. Many of the major devices—like iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7, Google Pixel, and more—don’t come fully sealed with shrink wrap anymore. So you can close it back up with less effort.


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