"One of the things that makes us stand out is we do wrapping," said Dennis Ronberg, co-owner of Linden Tree, Children's Recordings and Books, in Palo Alto, Calif. "People like to bop in and get a gift and we wrap it."

That works most of the year, but when things get busy during the holiday season, the Ronbergs supplement birthday-appropriate gift wrap with more festive styles and convert the store's courtyard into self-serve. "We set up four rolls of Christmas wrap and a couple rolls of Hanukkah wrap, and we leave out some stick-on bows. We put up signs and make it very positive: Wrap Your Christmas Presents Now," Ronberg said. For the most part, he finds, customers are appreciative. Dads will come with their kids and buy and wrap a gift for Mom. If someone balks at the idea of turning holiday shopping into a DIY project, staff members will do the wrapping.

The most popular gift wrap is Goodnight Moon, which Linden Tree uses year-round. To make sure that recipients make the connection that their gift comes from Linden Tree, the store provides oval stickers with its name and a hot-stamped logo for customers to decorate their packages.