There have been some things in the making that I wanted to share here but couldn’t because they were super secret gifts and I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s surprise. But now Christmas has happened and surprises have been had and sharing can happen safely once again. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from this Christmas season.
The Homemade Stuff
We tend to be one of those families that makes a good portion of the gifts we give. But 2013, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a particularly difficult year financially. So this year, nearly everything gifted to an adult was handmade. It’s definitely more time consuming (especially when the kids are hand-making gifts too), but I kind of love the excuse to get crafty. And, from a parental standpoint, I also love seeing the extra thought and care the kids pour into the gifts they make with their own small hands. Here are the best of the best this year (if I do say so myself):
Feather string art by Riley
The last two years, Josh has gotten me a new piece of artwork. I started referring to it as a tradition, in the hopes that doing so would ensure that the practice continued and more and more art would find its way to my walls. This year, though, Josh and I agreed to skip buying gifts for each other and instead focus on the kids. But no need to mourn for my naked walls: Riley came to the rescue with the feather string art he made for Josh. THE TRADITION LIVES!
You know those art projects your kids make that you love with all your heart… and maybe also think are completely atrocious? This is not one of them. Good job, Kid.
Full disclosure: We completely, 100%, unabashedly ripped off the feather design idea from Design Curiosities.
My mom loves Dickens. My mom loves Christmas stories. It should come as no great surprise, then, that my mom loves A Christmas Carol.
A million years ago, she got me a copy of A Christmas Carol for my very own. I remember the apartment we were living in when I got it, which would put me at 7 or 8 years old – so that’s a picture of a 30-year-old book right there.
A few years ago, I noticed that the binding was breaking and the pages were beginning to fall out. The hardcover was otherwise in pretty good shape, and the pages had a nice old-timey feel about them, so I set the whole thing aside with the idea that I would find some clever way to repurpose it someday. Then I saw this. And then, obviously, my mom got this for Christmas:
As an extra stroke of awesome, my copy of A Christmas Carol included lots of illustrations, both color and black and white, which lent themselves beautifully to becoming gift tags. And then I used a bunch of popsicle sticks and hot glue to turn the hard cover into a box to organize the tags (which, admittedly, is kind of a tacky way to make a box, but I was given strict instructions to not spend money and we already had the pospsicle sticks in the back of a drawer somewhere, so…).
A black pen to write “To”s and “From”s and a hole punch at the top, et voila! A gift tag box set made from one of my mom’s favorite books. Good job, me.
Full disclosure: I kind of (totally) stole this idea too. I saw something similar on Pinterest, and tried to follow the links through to the original poster, but it just sort of dead-ends after some random Tumblr, so… just go here.
I think this guy is my favorite of all the gifts this year. He’s a delightful take on a scarecrow, made from old crap I found in my basement. His name is Moby, and he’s meant to be hung in the garden to scare away the birds. His body is an old Moby CD (hence his name), and the sun reflecting off its shiny side is supposed to discourage birds from approaching. This is just a thing I’ve read, so I can’t say whether it actually works or not. I’ll check in with my mom in the spring and let you know if Moby is adequately doing his job. If not, at least he’ll look cute hanging out there.
I like his caster talons the best.
Again. Stolen idea.
The Store-Bought Stuff
But not everything was homemade. I received some pretty awesome (store-bought) gifts that I’m super excited about. My faves:
(Spoiler alert: they’re all books Probably no surprise there.)
So… maybe you should keep it to yourself if one of your favorite gifts is a grammar guide? OR you could fly your nerd flag high and proud. I choose the latter. Plus, it’s an illustrated edition of The Elements of Style and it’s AWESOME. So, shut it.
This has been on my list of books-I-must-read ever since I realized that everyone I know who has read it uses the same two words to describe it: Life. Changer. Man’s Search for Meaning is part memoir and part psychological theory. It chronicles Viktor Frankl’s time as a prisoner in concentration camps during World War II, and uses his experiences there as a sort of case study for his logotherapy theory. I think. I’ve only just started reading it, so I’m probably describing it terribly, but that’s the basic gist. It’s a bizarre thing to say I’m excited to read a horrific Halocaust tale, but you know: Life. Changer.
I’ve wanted to read Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison since before the Netflix show was a thing. I realize that’s a terribly hipster kind of thing to say, but it’s true. Plus, I’m not saying it to prove my superiority over you (hipster), I’m saying it to demonstrate that I’ve wanted it for a long time and so I’m really excited to finally have it (book nerd). There’s a difference. Anyway, I’m guessing you already know what it’s about, but just in case you don’t: it’s Piper Kerman’s memoir of her time in a women’s prison, after her conviction for drug smuggling and money laundering.
And, for the record, I love the show. Crazy Eyes is my favorite.
This is my new 5 Year Diary. It’s not huge, like you might expect a 5-year diary to be. Instead, there’s a day on each page, and each page is divided into five sections. You write in the first section the first year, then start over again the next year by writing in the second section, and so on and so on. Cool thing number one: as you write in it each year, you can read what you wrote on the same day in previous years. Cool thing number two: there’s only enough space to write a few sentences in each entry, so it’s not an overwhelming undertaking to journal daily. So far, some of my entries have taken the whole space… and others have said, simply, “Wine!”
There is a time and a place for soul-searching, introspective writing exercises. And there is a time and a place for writing exercises that center entirely around what type of alcohol you most recently consumed. Now, I have a place for the latter. And it is delightful.
So tell me, what fantastic things did you give (or receive) this year?
This post’s song: My Favorite Things by Avila
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Disclaimer: Some links that appear on this page may be affiliate links. That means I will get a very small amount of money if you should happen to click one and buy something. However, I would never in a million years link to anything that I didn’t sincerely think was super crazy awesome. Also, I feel compelled to encourage you to buy local and independent whenever you can so, for example, I would support picking up any one of the books I mention at Elliott Bay Book Company (or your favorite independent book seller) instead of Amazon – despite the fact that it directly and negatively affects the coinage making its way into my pockets. Ethics before profits, yo.